Secretary Gina Lopez has allayed fears of massive unemployment in the mining industry in the wake of suspension orders slapped on 20 mining companies that failed the audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

During a meeting with mining executives last week, Lopez assured that the workers of suspended mining firms will not end up unemployed as they will be used in the rehabilitation of mine sites, which is one of the conditions imposed in each suspension order.

Lopez said that the goal is to make sure the workers continue to work despite the suspension of mining operations.

"No, they (workers) won't be [unemployed]... A part of the directive, should there be suspension, is that they (firms) must hire those people to rehabilitate the mining sites," Lopez said.

Lopez said the DENR is looking at the potential of biochar as a tool for mine rehabilitation.

Biochar is a type of charcoal that is produced by burning only a small amount of oxygen. This enables the carbon to be absorbed by the plants and preventing it from accumulating in the atmosphere.

Lopez met with executives of mining companies to propose a much viable sustainable livelihood program that will benefit the communities where their projects operate.

During the meeting, Lopez presented her models of ecotourism sites to give the mining executives some ideas on how to help communities get out of poverty.

Lopez said the DENR could also tap the displaced mine workers for the National Greening Program (NGP), the government's massive forest rehabilitation initiative that doubles as an anti-poverty measure due to its cash-for-work component. ###