MANILA, July 9 (Reuters) -
* The Philippines’ Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) will undertake the second round of its “objective, science-based, and fact-finding” audit of local mining operations starting in the last week of July, Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said on Tuesday.
* The six-month audit follows the first round last year, which covered 27 of the country’s more than three dozen mines. Of the reviewed mines, 23 were cleared for compliance with environmental and other state regulations and were allowed to continue operating.
* Four mines did not pass the first round of review and were recommended for closure, although they were allowed to appeal the decision with the Office of the President.
* Agabin said the second audit, which will cover 17 mines across the country, will be conducted by the same technical teams that undertook the first round of review.
* The review will cover the environmental, economic, social, legal and technical aspects of the mining operations, he said in a statement.
* Mining is a deeply contentious issue in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, the world’s second biggest supplier of nickel ore, after past examples of environmental mismanagement.
* Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly warned miners to follow tighter environmental rules or shut down and is strongly against open pit mining, despite a push by senior officials of his administration to soften the policy. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by Gopakumar Warrier)