To ensure greater transparency and accountability in the mining sector, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has imposed a new regulation on the processing and issuance of environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for new mining operations.

In a recently issued memorandum circular, the DENR said only the ECC application of an entity or corporation whose name appear on the government-issued Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) or the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) shall be processed by the agency starting May 14.

"No new application for an ECC shall be processed and issued in the name of any applicant unless the same applicant shall be the entity or corporation as reflected in an MPSA and/or FTAA," stated in the DENR Memorandum Circular No. 006, Series of 2016.

It was further stated that the new requirement "shall apply to all new applications for ECC for the operation of Sand and Gravel or Industrial Sand and Gravel duly approved by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) and/or MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau) Regional Office, respectively."

According to DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, the new regulation aims to ensure the consistency in the implementation of the country's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) System and Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

"It should be established that the ECC applicant is the same as that designated in the MPSA or FTAA," Paje pointed out.

The EIS System was designed to safeguard the country's environment and natural resources against growing industrialization and urbanization.

RA 7942, on the other hand, regulates mineral resources development with strict adherence to the principle of sustainable development so that the needs of the present generation will be met without sacrificing those of future generations.

Paje had enjoined all PMRBs and MGB regional offices to ensure strict compliance with the new directive.

"It is the responsibility of PMRBs and MGB regional offices to ensure that new ECC applications for sand and gravel quarry projects comply with this requirement," the DENR chief said.

He added: "Sand and gravel count among the most extracted and widely consumed natural resources which we have to regulate." ###