LOCAL MINING companies’ operations may be suspended if they fail to meet the April 30 deadline to secure an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 environmental management certification, the head of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said on Monday.
“There will be no exemption unless the deadline is extended on meritorious ground to be evaluated by the MGB and EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), like when due to force majeure,” Leo J. Jasareno, director of MGB, told reporters.
Last April 30, 2015, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued Administrative Order (AO) No. 2015-07, requiring all metallic mining companies to secure an ISO 14001 environmental management certification within one year from the date of the order. The order covers all holders of valid and existing mineral agreement or financial or technical assistance agreement.
“The extractive nature of mining necessitates a greater degree or standards to ensure that any adverse impact on the environment is properly remediated in accordance to the norms of responsible mining… The requirement for mining contractors to undergo ISO certification will help achieve sustainable growth by the development of an effective environmental management system,” the order read.
Mr. Jasareno said the Philippines is the lone country that mandates mining firms to be ISO-certified. In other countries, companies voluntarily apply for such certification.
Of the 40 mining companies, only Apex Mining Company has requested an extension through a letter sent to the MGB last January.
The MGB chief said most companies are currently undergoing the process of securing an ISO 14001 environmental management certification, which usually takes at least a year.
Under the AO, the MGB can suspend a mining company’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) and can withhold the issuance of ore transport and/or mineral export permit, if the miner fails to comply with or maintain the ISO 14001 certification.
Michael Drake P. Matias, officer-in-charge/chief of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Division, said without an ECC, a company cannot conduct exploration activities.
Ore transport or mineral export permits, which are validated by the MGB, allow a firm to transport and export its mineral ores.
Three companies, namely SR Metals, Inc., OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc., and Philex Mining Corp., have already received ISO 14001 certification, prior to the issuance of the AO last year.
Mr. Jasareno said GreenStone Resources Corp. has also recently received its ISO 14001 certification.