COVID Has Unaffected the Mining Sector
The mining sector remains unaffected by the current health crisis.
Thus, said Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Chairman Gerard Brimo, also the President of Nickel Asia Corp., who added that there have been higher exports and few layoffs in this industry. He added that the mining sector is very much capable of helping the economy of the Philippines, which dropped by 11.5 per cent from July to September.
“I think there is a growing realization in the government [about that] and that we need to do something to keep the economy moving again. The way to do that is to fix the policies to grow the industry,” said Brimo.
In the first half of the year, mineral exports only decreased by 2 per cent - from US$2.465 billion in the first half of 2019 to US$2.416 billion in the first half of this year.
Also unaffected were employment in mining - with some mines experiencing temporary closure during the lockdown restrictions. Brimo added that miners were able to realign some of their social development funds to help communities in its fight against the pandemic.
Brimo said that there are “three problematic policies that have stifled the growth of the industry”, which includes the moratorium on new mineral agreements imposed under Presidential Executive Order No. 79 (2012) and the ban on the open-pit mining method issued by former and late Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez.
Brimo added that there is still to work on the suspension orders issued by Lopez to a couple of mining firms.
In September this year, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo Moncano said that in the mining sector, there were 138,000 jobs lost. MGB then asked the approval from President Rodrigo Duterte for a mining sector program that details some recommendations on how these extractive industries can aid the economy of the Philippines against recession.
“Similar to other industries, the mining sector lost export production values, taxes not raised, employment losses, undelivered supplies, among others, for the three months that the mining companies were prevented from operating,” Moncano said. “While it has been allowed to resume work now, the mining companies have to bear the strict health protocols issued by the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases].”