The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) decided to end 2021 with a bang by issuing DENR Administrative Order No. 2021-40 on December 23, putting an end to the open-pit mining method prohibition.
Much to the chagrin of large-scale mining operations back in 2017, the late, former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez enacted DENR Administrative Order No. 2017-10, which set a total ban on the “open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores”.
Citing destructive results and potential for calamity throughout the country’s history, the staunch environmentalist curtailed the practice.
However, current DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu’s decision to undo the ban on open-pit mining was said to have been in order to boost the nation’s economy through raw material production, and job creation at the mining sites that may resume their projects.
DENR further justified its actions by stating that open-pit mining is a method of extraction utilized and accepted worldwide and that strict adherence to parameters set forth by the Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility.
Mining corporations and projects must also ensure that their operations would not jeopardize public health and safety in any way, nor harm the environment and that this information must be made available to stakeholders.
Legislation that exists to protect certain areas such as watersheds, ancestral domains, and agricultural lands, will continue to exclude those under its stipulations.
Meanwhile, the environmental organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) lambasted the DENR’s actions, calling it a “cruel Christmas gift” from Cimatu and President Rodrigo Duterte.
“At this time when climate change brings devastating typhoons such as Odette, lifting the ban on open-pit mining is a shortsighted and misplaced development priority of the government. Once again, the Duterte regime puts more premium to its flawed economic agenda categorizing destructive mining as an ‘essential industry’ as part of the pandemic recovery,” the group stated a few days after the announcement.
Despite the order going into effect 15 days following its signing, ATM has vowed to continue its fight against the potentially devastating practice.
Photo: Business Mirror