PH tries to repair mining reputation
The Philippine government is trying to repair the damage done to the rising reputation it is hostile to mining, although more aggressive action is needed to completely dispel the image that Manila wants to score cheap points by pandering to anti-mining groups.
With little fanfare, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau lifted the moratorium on accepting applications for exploration permits or technical agreements that allow companies to explore the country. Combine that with the approval of an environmental clearance certificate to the Tampakan project in Mindanao, the resumption of operations by Philex, and the budding development of a rare earth mineral site by Sumitomo – and the perception is that the Philippine government has belatedly come to its senses in understanding that mining is vital for the country’s sustained development.
Industry group Chamber of Mines said “that government is responding to the mining industry’s call for a stable policy and investment environment needed by investors.”
“Exploration activities are essential in establishing our country’s mineral resource, and are considered the lifeblood of mining operations,” the Chamber said in a statement, adding mining “helps attract foreign investors and entice companies to provide the capital and modern technologies for large-scale mining projects that can manage environmental protection measures and social development programs in the mining communities.”
“The Chamber is hopeful that these developments will encourage more direct investments that would ensure the growth of the mining industry for the benefit of the whole country. We will continue to be a partner of the government in developing the mining industry,” the Chamber concluded.
The problems have not all been cleared up.
Manila should really take more aggressive action against provincial laws such as the one involving Tampakan and the ban on open pit mining. There is a mining law in place and a provincial law should not trump that. It looks like the government of President Benigno Aquino will wait until after the May mid-term elections before tackling that politically sensitive issue.
For all the good work on the economy the Philippine government has done, it would even be better if mining is going full tilt. Mining can provide a lift in jobs for Filipinos. The money and the jobs are likely the final critical argument which prompted the government to shelve a budding anti-mining stance.
In a way, the recent announcement by Sumitomo that the Philippines will become a key rare earth mineral producer provided the final impetus for mining.
The Philippines will become a producer of a rare earth metals early next year, joining a small group of countries producing materials that are critical to the running of gadgets like cell phones and night vision goggles. - Rappler.com
Note: Rene Pastor is with Philippine Commodities Digest, a weekly publication of New Jersey-based A & V Media that provides a comprehensive roundup of developments and trends in the country’s key farming and mining sectors. He is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Affairs from the New School in New York city and received a bachelor of arts in Communications from the Ateneo de Manila University. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey.