Asia Cement Corp and other mining companies that did not undergo an environmental review when their licenses came up for renewal are to be subject to environmental reviews following the revision of the Mining Act (礦業法), the Cabinet said yesterday.
Asia Cement gained permission for its mining operations in Hualien County 60 years ago, when there were no environmental review systems or environmental laws, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.
The Cabinet is to submit a draft amendment to the Mining Act to require mining firms to make up for the environmental impact assessments they did not face because their mining projects were approved decades ago without such reviews, he said.
“They will not be redoing the environmental review, but making up for the review they missed because they have never been subject to one,” Hsu said.
Seventy to 80 mining projects will be required to face make-up reviews, he said.
The Cabinet’s action was prompted by increased public concern about mining practices following the death of documentary filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) in a helicopter crash on Saturday last week, he said.
In his work, Chi had documented the mining operations of Asia Cement and a petition calling on the government to withdraw its renewal of Asia Cement’s mining license has collected more than 150,000 signatures in the wake of his death.
The draft amendment is to be listed as a priority bill in the next legislative session, which begins in September, as it could not be squeezed into the agenda of the extraordinary legislative session that began yesterday.
However, mining firms are allowed to continue operations during the review process, because they have already secured mining permits, Hsu said.
The National Park Act (國家公園法) was passed in 1972, Toroko National Park was established in November 1986 and the Environmental Protection Administration was established in August 1987.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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