The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has cancelled the expired environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) issued for four mining projects, as part of the agency’s continuing industry-wide ECC audit. Among those impacted is the proposed US$2.5 billion nickel venture of Norwegian company Intex Resources on Mindoro Island.

The cancellations are the latest in a sustained crackdown on the resources sector by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte and carried out by DENR led by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez.

The nation has been reviewing hundreds of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs), including those granted to mines. This is separate from an environmental audit of the country’s 41 operating mines whose results are set to be released on January 31.

Regina Lopez told a media briefing in regards to the Intex project that it would damage the environment as it would be located on a watershed. “Everyone there - the politicians, the church, the academe - they vehemently did not want mining there.”

She said the cancellation of the ECCs was meant to prevent environmental degradation and suffering of people in would-be affected communities.

President Duterte has backed the aggressive campaign against mines causing environmental harm, warning shortly after taking office in June last year that the country could survive without a mining industry.

The three other ECCs cancelled this week were for the Cebu coal mining project of Forum Cebu Coal Corp (FCCC) in Cebu province; the iron and copper project of CEKAS Development Corp at a 810-hectare site in Donsolihon, Cagayan de Oro City, in Misamis Oriental province; and the gold mining and processing project of Eaglerock Mining Corp in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur province.

Regina Lopez said all the ECCs had expired and the DENR had no intention of granting the companies the ECCs, considering their potential impacts to the environment.

“On January 31 we will announce the result of the mining audit, and the following week, we will announce whether those already issued with a suspension order will remain suspended or not,” she said. “As I’ve said, the DENR has adopted social justice as its heart and soul. All projects that will cause people to suffer will have to stop.”

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