Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu (photo courtesy of National Task Force Against Covid-19)

Some of the mining companies earlier closed and suspended by the late Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez will be allowed to resume operations.

This was confirmed by Lopez’s successor Roy Cimatu during a virtual press conference following the pre-SONA forum on Wednesday.

Cimatu said the DENR audit teams have already done onsite inspections and already came up with recommendations to allow the mining companies to resume their operations..

“‘Yung mga dumaan lang sa proper [review]… at nag-submit ng [motion] for reconsideration sa DENR,” Cimatu said.

“Nagkaroon ng audit ng aming mga technical experts, pumunta doon sa mining companies na suspended by former Secretary Lopez,” he added.

Cimatu, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff under President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, did not name the mining companies since reviews are still ongoing.

The DENR secretatry gave the assurance that only those mining companies that complied with corrective measures imposed by the Environment department will be allowed to re-open their mining sites.

“‘Yung mga hindi nag-comply pa ay talagang tutuloy pa naman nila ang kanilang compliance bago sila i-allow na mag-open,” Cimatu said.

Lopez, a staunch anti-mining advocate, ordered the closure and suspension of the mining activities of 26 firms as a result of the DENR’s controversial industry-wide environmental audit in 2017.

After failing to get the nod of the powerful Commission on Appointments, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Cimatu, who was then Duterte’s Special Envoy for Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Refugees, to succeed Lopez.  He was immediately confirmed on October 2017.

Upon assuming his post in the DENR, Cimatu said “balancing environmental care and responsible mining can be done”.

A year later, the DENR conducted a review of the closure and suspension orders of Lopez.  Cimatu later validated the suspension of the following mining companies: AAMPHIL Natural Resources and Exploration and Development Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., Emir Mineral Resources, Krominco Inc., Libjo Mining Corp., Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corp., Strong Built Mining Development, Wellex Mining Corp. 1&2, and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp, and the closure of of Claver Mineral Development Corp., Ore Mining and Development Corp., and Oriental Synergy Mining Corp.  (Rommel F. Lopez)