Babe Romualdez and Bobit Avila on mining

I just saw these two opinion articles in the Philippine Star published three months ago. Reposting portions of their papers.


Mining is gold
SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | March 2, 201

The remarks of Australian senior trade commissioner to the Philippines Elodie Journet that it is possible to engage in sustainable and environment-friendly mining activities was a boost to mining industry players who have suffered a blow following the decision of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to shut down the operations of 23 mining companies and cancel 75 mineral production sharing agreements.

According to Journet, Australia is open to sharing its best mining practices and demonstrate that aside from protecting communities and the environment, mining can also create jobs for the people, stressing that for the Australian government, protecting the environment is very important.

Mining has great potential to contribute to the economy, and this has become very evident in Australia once again with news that the country staved off a recession due in large part to increased domestic spending and the boost it got from mining, with coal and iron ore prices continuing their rebound. Reports say mining exports have helped Australia achieve a faster than expected expansion in the last quarter of 2016, bringing growth to 2.4 percent.

Coal and iron ore happen to be the biggest exports of Australia (said to account for 50 percent of total export earnings), whose “five pillar economy” highlights the importance of the mining sector which contributes an estimated 8.5 percent to Australia’s total GDP, and providing direct employment for some 220,000 people or about two percent of the workforce – and this does not even include the jobs generated through “downstream” industries.

Just recently, a high level delegation of Latin American policy makers visited mining areas in Australia to learn how responsible mining companies have been able to successfully engage with host communities and affected indigenous peoples (IPs). A lot of mining companies in Latin America are embroiled in disputes with affected IPs, and the site visits in Australia were certainly educational as it provided the policy makers insights with regard to consultation and effective community engagement, conflict resolution, job creation for IPs as well as issues regarding the environment.

In fact, President Duterte himself recognized the excellent mining standards not only in Australia, but in Canada as well. According to Journet, it is possible for agriculture, mining and environment to “co-exist” in one area.

The Philippines sits on an estimated $1.4 trillion worth of mineral reserves. It holds one of the largest gold reserves in the world, and is ranked fourth in copper and fifth in nickel reserves. Countries like Australia and Canada have proven that sustainable and responsible mining is possible (and in fact this is something that local companies with ISO certifications are already practicing in their operations). If the issues that have been hounding the industry can be resolved, then its potential to contribute to the economy will be maximized – showing that indeed, mining is gold.

Our thoughts on the mining industry
SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | March 16, 2017

…I personally like and support Sec. Gina Lopez and her temerity to take on the big guns of the mining industry and those who violate our environmental laws.

However she failed to take into account that mining has been here for decades and that the issue on the environment only came into the nation’s consciousness 20 years or less ago. It would have been totally different if mining only came to our shores a decade ago!

We in Cebu played host to the Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corp. (ACMDC) since the Commonwealth time when we were under America. I submit that Atlas Mining created a huge kilometers in diameter hole on the middle of the Island of Cebu called the Bigaa Pit and it was only later that we realized that the landscape of Cebu was scarred or defaced. But what do most people remember about Atlas Mines was that it had a great hospital (my uncle, Dr. Oliverio “Tio Oc” Segura was the number two medical officer of that facility) and yes, Atlas Mines had Cebu’s only De La Salle High School.

Twenty years ago Atlas shut down because of labor problems.

I’m not into the business of mining and I’m sure my shares in Atlas Mines are a worthless piece of paper. But I do agree with Finance Sec. Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III who said, “We have to realize that in daily life we need mining products. If you want a cell phone, you need a mine. You want a car, you need a mine. You want gasoline, you need a mining activity. You want cement, you need a mining activity. So it’s not a question of one or the other. You need some of mining or else we might as well go back to the Stone Age.”

Now that Pres. Duterte has revealed that he is against mining and has backed Gina Lopez to the hilt, may I therefore exhort them to seriously look into that epic “no man’s” mining land called Mt. Diwalwal, where thousands of people look for gold every day!

We know that in the US, they put their gold bullion reserves in Fort Knox. But in Mt. Diwalwal, the Philippines has an abundance of gold, but unfortunately the gold found there doesn’t end in the nation’s Central Bank, but rather it is smuggled out to places like Hong Kong where unscrupulous traders create a market for this gold.

Mt. Diwalwal is “uncontrolled” mining (actually it is controlled by armed groups) where for sure the environment has also been destroyed and the gold has not help enrich our people and our country.

So if Sec. Gina Lopez can take on the big mining companies, stopping the operations in Mt. Diwalwal should be her greatest challenge at the DENR.

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