MINING firms ordered for closure and suspension by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) during former secretary Gina Lopez's administration are now under review by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

According to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Davao Director Constancio Paye, MICC is currently conducting a study of the earlier reported 26 mining firms nationwide ordered for closure by DENR in February 2017.

In an official statement of the Department of Finance, there will be 25 experts comprising of five technical review teams (TRTs) who will conduct the review. Seated as MICC chairs are Environmental and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

The objective of the review is to come up with "recommendations on mining-related methodologies and procedures to maximize the benefits of mining and avoid damages, (to come up with) the list of inefficiencies/violations/damages done by mining companies that are difficult to be address by DENR alone, and the appropriate penalties that have to be imposed."

The five TRTs will look into the environmental, economic, social, legal, and technical aspects of the mining operations.

"As far as Davao Region is concerned, there are not much mining companies that were affected by the closure order. Astral Mining Inc. was actually (suspended) more on the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). They addressed an appeal to the office of the president. Under the direct policy, if your suspension is ECC-related, then you can continue operation. But Astral Mining Inc. chose to wait for the decision of their appeal," said Paye.

He added that part of the appeal is to recognize that their area is not actually included in the said watershed area and should not really be closed for mining.

In Mindanao, there were seven mining firms that were included in the closure order. All of these firms are located in Surigao del Norte. These are Adnama Mining Resources Corporation, Claver Mineral Development Corporation, Hinatuan Mining Corporation, CTP Construction and Mining Corporation, Carrascal Nickel Corporation, Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation, and Platinum Group Metals Corporation.

Now that former secretary Lopez was replaced by secretary Roy Cimatu, Paye said MGB continues to advocate for responsible mining, not just for Davao Region but as well as for the entire country.

"We have safeguards and laws that we should follow to make our mining responsible and compliant to the environmental law. Included there is the environmental progressive rehabilitation, meaning when you operate in the areas affected by the mining and that you aren't using anymore, you have to progressively rehabilitate the area. Then we will also put out funds for that purpose. There should also be funds set aside for the final mining rehabilitation of the final mine-out areas," said Paye.