Gov’t to audit mining firms in BARMM

The interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) will audit mines within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for the first time, this after President Duterte ordered to stop all mining operations on a small island in Tawi-Tawi for their adverse impact on the environment.

The MICC, cochaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, has audited 50 mining operations across the country in two rounds since 2018. Given the autonomy of BARMM, the mining firms in the region were excluded.

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However, the third round of the audit, to begin in October, will cover four mines within BARMM, the Department of Finance said in a statement. Representatives and experts from the Bangsamoro government will be involved in the audit, it added.

The evaluation will cover the technical, legal, social, economic and environmental aspects of the mining operations—the same framework that guided MICC in its previous audits.

It was in January when Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that Mr. Duterte had ordered the suspension of a mining firm in Tumbagaan Island in Tawi-Tawi over reports that the area had been “completely devastated” due to mining activities.

The province houses some of the country’s nickel projects but is not being monitored by the Mines and Geoscience Bureau as it falls within BARMM.

According to the Intergovernmental Relations Body—which facilitates the relations of the Bangsamoro regional government and the Philippine national government—the audit will allow MICC to impart some of its skills and technology to BARMM in the evaluation of mining operations, while Bangsamoro experts can provide the body with a baseline on the status of mining activities in their region.

It added that experts from BARMM might also be tapped for future mining audits outside the region to further develop their technical capability.

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