Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said mining enables green technology to flourish, offer jobs brings and revenues, hence presenting additional economic benefits that uplifts the lives and promote the welfare of the people, particularly in far-flung areas.
Speaking during the 2nd day of the 2023 Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibition on Wednesday, Pangilinan said that he saw for the first time the inherent risks associated with mining, when one of the tailings ponds of Padcal mine encountered a problem, causing leaks to nearby water bodies.
During the accidental mine leak, Philex Mining Corporation which owns and manages Padcal mine, voluntarily stopped all operations and moved swiftly to repair the damage and avert amajor environmental crisis.
“To repair the damage and avert a major environmental crisis, that midnight, I messaged (then) President Noynoy Aquino about this mining accident, and the timely steps we’ve taken. There were no fatalities and Philex paid a fine to the government of more than P1 billion pesos,” he said.
“With the theme "Seeing Green: Shaping a Sustainable Minerals Development Industry," the event brought together a diverse assembly of participants, including government officials, private sector representatives, academics, indigenous communities, and mining host communities.
In his talk, Pangilinan said that mining is important in the production of e-vehicles and batteries – which will require nickel, graphite, aluminum, and copper constitute their metal bodies and batteries.
Panel and wind farms need steel, arsenic, gallium, germanium, indium, and tellurium.
Wind turbines, on the other hand, need aluminum and a number of rare earth compounds to make their generators lighter and more efficient.
“I would then argue that in many respects, sustainability rests on green technology- and by extension, reliance on mining would continue,” he said.
Moreover, Pangilinan said in the migration from fossil fuel to e-vehicles, charging stations would have to be built but would be impossible to do so without metals.
“Beyond minerals, mining means jobs and incomes for our people, especially since mines are typically located in rural areas, where poverty exists and jobs are scarce,” he said.
At a press briefing at the sideline, he then added that in the countryside and rural areas, mining brings about economic benefits, helping people escape poverty through job generation, and national and local government taxes paid by mining companies are translated to projects and better social services that benefit the people.
According to Pangilinan, the world is now entering an era of sustained resource demand as economies expand and the population explodes.
“The Philipines missed the economic bus during the manufacturing cycle in the 50s and 0s, and the export boom in the 70s and 80s. This time, we cannot miss this bus yet again, with our available mineral resource base,” he said, warning that if the Philippines failed to board the bus, it would leave the country no option but to import, which means paying for someone else’s cost of mineral products, and their profits, plus the cost of protecting the environment.
“This is not only absurd, it is also sad-too lazy to exploit our inherent mineral wealth and an insult to us when others – the South Africans, Australians, Indonesians, and Chinese – operate and manage their mining businesses well enough,” he stressed.
Pangilinan said that if these countries can conduct their mining operations responsibly and sustainably, so can the Philippines, adding that the industry has to further level up when it comes to sustainability practices and standards.
Nevertheless, he maintained that an industry should not be judged based on its worst members.
Sustainability confronting the industry should be properly addressed, including health-related and safety concerns, exploitation of women and child workers, lack of clarity of plans, and actionable post-mining rehabilitation that can restore mine sites to their original state.
Hence, he said the private sector should help the government raise its supervising capabilities through funding of scholarship and training both here and abroad.
Lastly, he said separating the functions of regulation and the promotion of industry is a must.
He said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) should be in charge of the promotion, development, and supervision of mining, while the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is mandated to enforce environmental laws, both of which fall under the jurisdiction of the DENR, and the conflicting goals at times place the DENR in policy dilemma.
To address this, he suggests spinning off the EMB into a separate and independent body, similar to the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S., hence avoiding the need to create a new department with a separate budget.
This article is a press release of Chamber of Mines of the Philippines
Sept. 20, 2023
VP for Communications
0917 803 8690
CHAMBER OF MINES OF THE PHILIPPINES Unit 801 Raffles Corporate Center, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Philippines Tel: Nos.: (632) 635-4123 to 24; 635-4159 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.chamberofmines.com.ph