“I’m banning open-pit mining, not the existing ones because they are already there. We just have to find a way out of it,” Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez told reporters at the DENR headquarters in Quezon City yesterday.
A check with the department showed she had not yet signed the order as of early evening yesterday.
“I can do it as a matter of policy. I’m DENR Secretary. I have policy to ban open-pit mining. It’s my prerogative.”
She clarified that the impending order will spare those already operating using that method.
“The ones that are there, walang magawa, nandiyan na eh (we can’t do anything — they’re there). But don’t start because once it starts and they don’t have the technology to make it better, I find it very scary,” she added.
Asked then if the ban will cover only those still in pre-operation stage, Ms. Lopez replied: “No more hukay-hukay diyan (digging there) at all. Like zero. Stop it already.”
DENR in early February ordered closed 22 of the country’s 41 operating metal mines and the suspension of five others for violations ranging from operating in watersheds to causing siltation in surrounding waterways.
The department followed that in the middle of the same month by ordering 75 other projects in pre-operation stages to explain why they should not be similarly sanctioned.
The draft administrative order, titled: “Banning the Open Pit Method of Mining Companies for Copper, Gold, Silver and Complex Ores in the Country”, claimed most open pits in the past “ended up as perpetual liabilities, causing adverse impacts to the environment.”