Place your Ad Here!

Senator De Lima passed a resolution against lifting of open-pit mining ban

by Marcelle P. Villegas - January 22, 2022

Senator Leila De Lima [file photo from Leila De Lima Official Facebook page]

Open-pit mining is a globally accepted method that is considered to be the most feasible option for mining near-surface or shallow one deposits. Despite the track record of successful and safe open-pit operations in Australia, Canada, China and United States, there are still some who have apprehension towards the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining in the Philippines.

Before the year ended, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu signed the Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2021-40 that lifts the ban on open-pit mining. The order was passed last 23rd of December 2021. This covers mining for copper, gold, silver and other complex ores. DENR made this decision with hopes to revive the mining industry so it may once again provide job opportunities in rural areas. This decision was a response to counter the economic downturn that resulted from the global pandemic.

Secretary Cimatu’s DAO No. 2021-40 now nullifies the DAO No. 2017-10 which was signed by former DENR Secretary, the late Gina Lopez. DAO No. 2017-10 banned open-pit mining in the Philippines for the past four years. Secretary Lopez was known as an anti-mining advocate and she passed the ban on open-pit method of mining during her time as her move to protect the environment from the adverse effects of mining.

In relation to DENR’s recent decision to finally lift the ban on open-pit mining, Senator Leila de Lima filed a resolution to investigate further on this matter. A copy of her proposed resolution was released to media last 16th of January 2022. Her resolution urges the Senate to assess DENR’s decision because she sees this as “possibly catastrophic” to the environment and to human life.

From a report by CNN Philippines, De Lima stated, “There is a need to conduct a thorough review of this policy decision as this can potentially open up the country once more to irresponsible mining practices which could further compromise the environment and pose health and safety risks to people and their communities.” [1]

Moreover, the Senator said that the government should find other ways to generate wealth not through mining because she believes that the industry’s extraction practices caused in the past many fatal accidents in the country.

De Lima cited the Marcopper mining incident in Marinduque back in 24th March 1996 wherein toxic waste from the mine site contaminated the Boac River. The 27-kilometer Boac River was the main source of livelihood for those who did not work for the mine. From this incident in 1996, the government reported the toxic tailings waste killed P1.8 million worth of freshwater and marine life and P5 million milk fish fry. The toxic spill from the mine site caused flash floods which affected five villages with populations of 4,400 people each. One of the villages was Barangay Hinapulan which was buried under six feet of muddy floodwater. The local source of drinking water was contaminated with toxins as well. [2] During that time, Marinduque was listed as among the 44 poorest of the 80 provinces in the Philippines. [3]

Senator De Lima noted that there had been at least five more mining disasters after this which clearly proves that the Philippines has “yet to figure out how to consistently extract mineral resources in a safe and efficient manner.”

“When gains and risks are placed on a scale, the State must always err on the side of caution,” De Lima said.

Although the Marcopper mining disaster happened almost 26 years ago, it was reported that the incident led to some significant changes in the government’s mining policies. The government made revisions on the rules of the Mining Act that puts more emphasis on the protection of the environment and to bring light to social issues. Of note, higher standards for rehabilitation were set and consultations with the local government and indigenous communities also became the main focus of concern of these policies. [2]

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance (DOF) supports DENR's decision to lift the ban on open-pit mining. In a statement published by Philippine News Agency, DOF Secretary, Carlos Dominguez III said Republic Act (RA) No. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995) "does not prohibit open-pit mining as there are economic, safety, and environmental considerations for employing this method".

The Secretary said, “As co-chair of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), I support DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu's decision to lift the ban on open-pit mining. The matter was extensively discussed in the MICC and with advice and guidance from experts, the recommendation was to lift the ban.” He emphasised that proper measures to ensure safety in this mining method can be implemented.

 “Strict monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance with environmental standards shall be undertaken to prevent any abuse in the implementation of this type of mining activity... I am confident that the DENR is fully capable of regulating mining operations in the country so that mining activities are conducted safely with due regard to the protection of the environment.” He mentioned that he is mindful and aware of the impact of mining activities on the environment, thus he emphasised that the Philippines aims to greatly reduce its carbon footprint.

He said, “The protection of the environment is non-negotiable. We have to strike a careful balance between preserving and protecting the environment and pursuing our economic development objectives”.

Secretary Dominguez is an official representative of the President to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and is the head of the Philippine delegation to the COP26, a global environmental summit that addresses climate change issues. Last year from 31st of October until 12th November, delegates from around the world gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 summit to discuss and share their plans and strategies on how to control climate change.

Secretary Dominguez said that with the lifting of the ban, the mining industry can help with the country's economic recovery, because the DENR has projected that open-pit mining will "lead to the immediate development of 11 pending projects that are expected to generate about PHP11 billion combined in yearly government revenue, increase annual exports by PHP36 billion, and provide employment to 22,880 people living in remote municipalities". [4]

“Clearly, it will revive an industry that will create jobs and spur economic growth in the countryside... More importantly, the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining will help revitalize the economy as we begin to recover from the pandemic by generating additional revenues, royalty fees, export value, and even more jobs in related industries. These economic prospects can still be realised while we continuously implement strategies to manage and avoid the negative impacts of the open-pit mining method.”

He also pointed out that open-pit mines in Australia, Canada, China and the United States have been operating effectively and safely. This is possible too in the Philippines through tight monitoring and enforcement to ensure that mines strictly comply with laws and environmental regulations.

Lastly, DENR clarified that the major issues or fears concerning mining operations cannot be attributed to the open-pit method of mining, but rather to accidents or errors in wastes and tailings confinements. [4] Such accidents can be prevented through strict monitoring and implementation of safety measures.

-----

Reference:

[1] CNN Philippines (16 Jan 2022). “De Lima wants probe into lifting of open pit mining ban”. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/1/16/de-lima-senate-probe-lifting-open-pit-mining-ban.html

[2] Environmental Justice Case Study - http://websites.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/marcopper.htm and  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcopper_mining_disaster#cite_note-env-10

[3] Poverty Statistics Poorest 44 Provinces Archived 2010-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, National Statistical Coordination Board, 2000

[4] Philippine News Agency (30 Dec. 2021). "DOF backs DENR move to lift ban on open-pit mining". Retrieved from - https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1164102


Place your Ad Here!

Place your Ad Here!


Recent Articles

Mining

Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022

PH-EITI holds first meeting under Marcos admin, approves plan to improve multi-stakeholder engagement in the extractives

Photo credit: PH-EITI The Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) convened its first Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) meeting under the Marcos administration on Friday (September 16), two weeks after the country reaffirmed its commitment to implement the EITI. EITI is the global standard for transparency and accountability in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. The MSG – the body that governs EITI implementation in the country – is chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the PH-EITI. “This meeting demonstrates the government’s continuing commitment to improve transparency and accountability in the extractive industries,” said Finance Undersecretary and PH-EITI Focal Person and Chair Cielo Magno. To improve resource governance, the MSG agreed to strengthen spaces for multi-stakeholder participation and advocate for more spaces along the extractive industry value chain. The group also agreed to include an MSG report on the status of civic engagement in the annual country report. The MSG also discussed remaining initiatives for 2022, including the production of the FY 2021 PH-EITI Country Report, the 2022 National Conference, and a planned visit of EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to the Philippines in November 2022. The PH-EITI publishes independently reconciled data on oil, gas, coal, and mineral resources through an annual and comprehensive country report. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. Aside from disclosing extractives data to inform research and policy recommendations, the PH-EITI also provides space for multi-stakeholder participation in resource governance.   Article courtesy of the Department of Finance

Mining

Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022

Marcos admin commits to transparency and good governance in the extractive industries

Photo credit: EITI / CC BY-SA The Marcos administration demonstrated its commitment to pursue transparency in natural resource governance by rejoining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and enabling the continued development of the mining sector. In a letter to EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno cited the value of good governance and anti-corruption measures in maximizing the extractive sector’s contribution to resource mobilization and sustainable economic growth. EITI will complement the administration’s agenda on transparency and accountability. “We welcome the opportunity to re-engage in EITI. We also commend the progress of the EITI Board in reviewing the validation standard and making it more relevant to implementing countries. We believe that EITI is an important tool for resource-rich countries like the Philippines to improve transparency and increase accountability in the management and governance of the extractive industries,” said Secretary Diokno. Secretary Diokno said that other government agencies, as well as industry and civil society stakeholders who have been actively implementing EITI in the country, are supportive of the move to rejoin the global initiative. On June 20, 2022, the Philippines through the Department of Finance (DOF) withdrew its participation in the EITI over concerns on metrics and procedures used for assessing country compliance with the international organization’s transparency requirements. In an August 23, 2022 letter, EITI Chair Helen Clark invited Secretary Diokno to re-state the country’s commitment to the EITI on behalf of the Marcos administration and build on the progress that the Philippines has achieved in the past nine years. The PH-EITI multi-stakeholder group is chaired by the DOF and is composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the Philippine EITI (PH-EITI). Annual disclosure of contracts, financial, economic, social and environmental data is mandatory for extractive industries pursuant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-07. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, covering data from mining, oil, gas, and coal industries and reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. In 2017, the Philippines was recognized by the EITI as the first among 50 plus countries in the world to have fully complied with the 2016 EITI Standard. The EITI updates its standard every three years and subjects member countries to validation to ascertain their compliance. Secretary Diokno said that the Marcos administration is committed to engage and unite various stakeholders in pursuing good governance and policy reforms in the country. “Rest assured that we remain committed to pursuing good governance in the extractive sector,” said Secretary Diokno.   Article courtesy of the Department of Finance

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 26, 2022

Metro Manila Subway project nominated for int’l digital awards

Artist rendering of the Metro Manila Subway (Photo courtesy of DOTr) The Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) has been named as one of the finalists at the 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure for the best use of infrastructure software to save both time and money. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the general consultant for the MMSP Phase 1, the Japanese consortium Oriental Consultants Global (OC Global), developed a common digital engineering system and a “single source of truth” using ProjectWise and ComplyPro -- both programs by Bentley Software Inc. The MMSP, the DOTr said, presented communication and coordination challenges that other software programs failed to address. “The project team at OC Global realized that the implementation of collaborative BIM workflows, proactive risk management, and cost monitoring would require a connected data environment to be established,” it said. The system developed by OC Global for the MMSP enabled real-time data sharing that optimized collaboration -- saving an estimated 5,000 resource hours within the project’s first six months. “Combined with SYNCHRO for construction simulation, Bentley’s integrated technology solution identified and resolved 50 clashes, eliminating rework, shortening the project schedule, and saving costs. The successful BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation has already achieved a return of investment of over USD600,000,” it said. The Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure is an annual event meant to honor Bentley software users for advancing infrastructure design, construction, and operations worldwide. The event’s finalists are deemed to demonstrate “excellence and digital advancements” in their respective award categories. The award winners will be announced during the program’s main event in London on Nov. 15. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

Place your Ad Here!

Place your Ad Here!

Join the Philippines'

Mining, Construction and Industry Community

Be the "First" to get our exclusive Digital Magazine & Newsletter.