BAGUIO CITY—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) has put up a system that would check compliance and violations in the operations of mining companies in the country.
Engineer Rodolfo Velasco, chief of MGB’s Mine Safety and Environment Division, during the sidelines of the 64th Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association’s (PMSEA) Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference on Thursday, said the system includes standard forms reflecting priority areas that are being monitored – safety, health, environment, social programs and compliance to the conditions in the permits issued to the mining companies.
Velasco said 115 mining companies — 55 metallic and 60 non-metallic mines – had been issued permits that allow them to operate legally.
Mining companies would be rated based on their compliance to the rules, he said, adding that non-compliance has corresponding penalties and fines that serve as corrective measures.
Velasco said the guidelines were issued after several meetings and management conferences with the MGB’s regional offices, which also gave inputs.
“We are now testing the system in the Caraga region. The fourth monitoring assessment will be ironed out and will be ready for implementation nationwide starting 2018,” he said.
To recall, various mining companies have been put in hot water after former environment secretary Gina Lopez issued a cease order due to violations of environment laws.
“Three aspects of operation are being monitored. For safety and health, every mining company is required to submit an annual safety and health program that will be used in implementing the safety rules and regulations stipulated in Department Order 2009-98 or the safety and health standards,” Velasco said.
Mining firms also have to submit an environmental protection and enhancement program that contains their rehabilitation and decommissioning plan once mining operations cease, he said, adding that they are also asked to submit a social development and management plan for implementation in the host and neighboring communities.
Velasco said 95 percent of the 115 mining companies comply with the safety, environmental, and social aspects or are submitting the required documents.
Meanwhile, Engineer Felizardo Gacad, MGB-Cordillera Mine Safety and Environment Division chief, said that in terms of safety, all large-scale mining permittees had a high compliance rate on safety, health and environmental factors.
“None of them wants to record any accident that will lead to injury or death but they do happen,” Gacad said.
The Cordillera region, especially Benguet province, is host to the country’s major mining firms.
The history of Baguio City shows that Americans constructed Kennon Road in the early 1900s and developed the area as the rest-and-recreation center of employees of mining companies, which were originally owned by Americans.
Baguio’s development can also be traced to the existence of mining firms. (PNA)