MINERS have asked the government to provide a stable environment and to specify how the industry can best comply with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards.   

“We hope for nothing less than a stable business environment to allow mineral resource development to flourish, the harmonization of national and local laws to avoid conflicts, and the promotion as well as reporting of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) best practices for resource development,” Philex Mining Corp. said in a Viber message.

The listed miner said that “through responsible and sustainable means, mining has the potential to contribute to economic growth and national development.” 

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno has said that the government is hoping to accelerate the revival of the mining industry, the operations of which were disrupted by the Duterte administration, which found large parts of the industry non-compliant with environmental rules. The government before that had declared a moratorium on new mining permits.

Last year, then President Rodrigo R. Duterte lifted the nine-year-old permit moratorium and lifted the ban on open-pit mining.

In 2021, the mining and quarrying industry posted output growth of 5.0%, accelerating from 2.6% in 2020, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

“It has always been our strong belief that responsible mineral development, when allowed to flourish, could substantially contribute to economic recovery, particularly in increasing government revenue, job generation, and poverty alleviation that are most needed in this time of pandemic and beyond,” Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Chairman Michael T. Toledo said in a statement.

On the opposite of the issue, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group, said the environmental consequences of mining outweigh its economic benefits.

“A revitalization of the mining industry could only lead to food and water insecurity, land-use changes, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, air and water pollution and the displacement of communities,” ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera said in a statement.

Mr. Garganera said that environmental concerns should be one of the government’s priorities in its economic recovery program.

“Ignoring the harmful environmental consequences of mining in the drive to revitalize the mining industry could only do more damage to the economy,” he said.

“It is imperative that alternatives to mining be pursued if the government truly wants to revive the economy. These include: agroforestry, eco-tourism and watershed development, agriculture and fisheries, and community-based enterprises,” he added.

ATM called for the full disclosure of all the mine audit reports and the immediate review of these mine audits.

“The new administration must immediately convene an environmental summit that will involve affected communities and environmental groups in order to assess and craft this administration’s environmental and climate program,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson