By Marcelle P. Villegas
In terms of taxes, fees and other charges of the Government to mining companies, how much are mining companies really contributing to the country? How much funds are mining companies giving to local communities through their social development programs? And moreover, at the present time, how may trees have mining companies planted on the land area that they have mined and rehabilitated? With all the negative media and misinformation about the industry where most people think that the mining industry is not contributing much in this country, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu addressed these issues during his speech at the Mining Philippines 2018 last 18 September 2018 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.
Additionally, the Secretary emphasized the mechanics of “reinventing mining” for the benefit of people where they can utilize the mineral resources of the country. On Day 1 of the mining summit, Secretary Cimatu was in Baguio to attend to the problems relating to the landslide brought about by typhoon Ompong. On his behalf, Environment Undersecretary Analiza A. Rebuelta-Teh read his speech. The Secretary attended on Day 2 of Mining Philippines 2018.
Mining Philippines Conference and Exhibition is an annual event that is organised by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines. The event is a venue that showcase the achievements and best practices of mining companies. The participants also discuss current relevant topics that surround the mining industry. This year’s theme is “Strategic Synergies: Communicating the Gains of Responsible Mining”.
Here is Sec. Cimatu’s speech during the Opening Session of Mining Philippines 2018.
“To the members of the board of trustees of the Chamber of Mines headed by its Chairman, Mr Gerard Brimo, and also to the mine officers of the Chamber, Ambassador Delia Albert, Ambassador Martin Slabber from South Africa, Ambassador Win Naing of Myanmar, Ambassador Lý Quôc Tuân from Vietnam, and Canadian Trade Commissioner Crista McInnis, the Australian Senior Trade Commissioner Elodie Journet, and of course colleagues from the government and especially MGB Director Moncano and Assistant Director Uykieng.
“To all the guests and participants to the mining summit, a pleasant morning. During the last forum on mining which the DENR convinced regularly as a venue to address with the mining companies the various issues confronting the industry, I mentioned about the need to reinvent mining as pronounced by the President. Why reinvent? Why not regaining and rebuilding as we call our rehabilitation efforts in Boracay? Why not reforming mining?
“Reinvent means to change something so much that it appears to be entirely new. It means to take up a very different way of life. So why reinvent mining? Because that is what exactly the industry needs now. We need to change to be almost entirely new. We need to take up a very different way of life.
“That is the only way to go if we are to preserve the industry’s gains in promoting sustainable mineral resources development. So how do we intend to reinvent mining? When I say “we”, not just “we”, the National Government. “We” includes the mining companies, the local government units and other stakeholders. Let us look first at where the mining industry is now.
“According to reports the total Philippine metallic mineral production value advanced by 4% as of June 2018, from 52.42 billion pesos to 54.57 billion pesos year on year, or an increase of 2.14 billion pesos. The positive trend was brought about with the improved metal prices in the world market. In terms of gross value added, mining contributed 53 billion pesos during the first half of 2018. Mineral exports during the first quarter reached 1.1 billion dollars. Total employment during the same period totalled 215,000 workers. In terms of royalties, fees and other charges collected by the government from mining operations, a total of 644.4 million pesos was recorded with additional 292.6 million pesos in taxes, fees and charges collected by local government units from mining. As of July this year, the mining industry committed a total fund of 16.42 billion pesos for social development programs benefiting 966 barangays affected by mining operations.
“In terms of environmental protection and enhancement programs, the amount committed reached 18.39 billion pesos and another 2.55 billion pesos for final mine rehabilitation and the commissioning programs. Under the Mining Forest Program 107 mining companies reported that they have planted 26,023.62 hectares of trees numbering 28,349,833.
“So can we say, not that bad? Or maybe we should say we can do more or even better we should do more. And when we say that we should do more, we are reinventing mining. We are changing the industry’s way of life. Is the government on the other hand providing the enabling policy environment to support the growth of mining industry with high regard to environmental considerations? There are several policy issuances that I have signed as initial efforts to reinvent mining.
“DENR Administrative Order 2018-13 Lifting the Moratorium on the Acceptance, Processing and Approval of Applications for Exploration Permit for Metallic and Non-metallic Minerals following the completion of the audit on all mining operations pursuant to DENR Memorandum Order 2016-01 or the Audit of All Operating Mines and Moratorium on New Mining Projects.
“Administrative Order No. 2018-19 or The Guidelines for Additional Environmental Measures for Operating Surface Metallic Mines was issued to provide new environmental policies that will ensure sustainable environmental conditions at every stage of the mining operation and minimize the disturbed area of a mining project at any given time.
“Administrative Order No. 2018-20 or Providing for a New Guidelines in the Evaluation and Approval of the Three-year Development/Utilization Work Program provides standards in the evaluation and approval of the said program that is consistent with the approved feasibility study, the provisions of mining laws, rules and regulations, and the terms and conditions of the mining permit and contract. The new guideline was also designed to provide for an efficient monitoring system of operating mines. The review conducted by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council or the MICC technical review teams showed that mining industry really needs to shape up as a sector.
“Even if there are responsible mining companies, those which still disregard environmental laws unfortunately affect not just the overall image of the sector but also provides an impression of this malperformance of this industry in general.
“The reviews specified major reforms needed. For example, on adequate mine tailings pond and the very slow rehabilitation of the disturbed mined areas. It also pointed out unacceptable practices regarding stock pile areas, location of tailing storage facilities, and dumping of toxic and hazardous waste. I believe that enforcement is critical to usher in a new era of doing mining in the country. Reinventing mining entails improving the MGB monitoring of operations and compliance of mining companies to mining and environmental laws, rules and regulations; enforcing fines, penalties, suspension and closure to demonstrate no-nonsense, putting-into-force compliance and promoting deterrence for commission of violations is imperative. Most importantly, reinventing mining in the Philippines is providing actual benefits to the people, who must benefit first and foremost from the utilization of the country’s mineral resources as pronounced by the President in several instances.
“We can do more not by imposing additional taxes, or giving incentives, or implementing social development programs. We can do more by strictly complying with the protection and conservation of the natural resources to ensure that future generation will benefit. So let us continue undertaking reforestation programs as a mining sector. Let us implement progressive rehabilitation in our mining areas. Let us provide appropriate mitigating measures to protect our watershed and water bodies. But most of all, let us follow strictly the environmental guidelines in all aspects of mining operation.
“As the scheduled re-opening of Boracay gets near, we will be able to demonstrate that effective enforcement and coordination among concerned agencies and stakeholders can lead to successful rehabilitation and improve environmental quality.
“As a military man, I have received several commendations that anyone could be proud of, but the truth is, the things that we have done and accomplished to make Boracay “cessful no more” gives me more satisfaction than any military award that I have received, maybe because I know I am doing something for the environment, for our children’s future and our children’s children’s future. And now the challenge is for us all to work together to make something that we will all be proud of and satisfied. We should do more. We can change mining’s way of life. Let us change the face of mining in the Philippines, a sector that is capable to discipline itself, that has high regard for the environmental protection, one that works genuinely with the communities.
“I would like to congratulate the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and its partners in organizing this mining summit. As we engage each other in sharing experiences in discussing policy issues and recommendations, in just by getting to know more each other, we are undertaking efforts to unite the industry towards our common goal, sustainable development of our resources, economic upliftment of the people, and progress for our country. Maraming salamat po at mabuhay!”