Mining companies should comply with all existing mining and environmental laws if they want their operations to continue, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said Sunday.
Cimatu said the Environment Department would be strict in exercising regulatory powers to reduce to the minimum the environmental impacts of mining operations in the country.
“While our laws allow the exploration of our natural resources, those privileged will have to adhere to strict rules and regulations, and always focused on the national interest,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu said the department would continue to promote responsible use of natural resources and environmental protection in the mining sector.
“We will protect the environment and the affected communities, and optimize the use of the country’s natural resources for the common good,” he said.
“We will punish those who violate relevant regulations by imposing the highest possible penalties provided by law,” he said.
Cimatu said the agency was conducting a thorough review of an earlier mining audit, which recommended the suspension or closure of several mining operations.
“We are carefully reviewing each and every company in accordance with existing laws and, of course, based on fact and the evidence,” Cimatu said.
He said the department would properly adhere to due process and give all concerned firms and sectors the chance to raise their concerns.
“We will not be rushed to judgment,” Cimatu said.