How mining continuously rapes nature
The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 states that only Filipinos or 60% Filipino-owned corporations can engage in the mining business. However, a Chinese named Joseph Sy is the registered owner of Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC).
Sy seemed to have played around the law and efforts to regulate the impact of mining and to protect national patrimony.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed criminal charges against Sy, a director of the influential Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI), before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in June 2015. The charges include falsification of public documents, violation of the Philippine Passport Act, and violation of the anti-dummy law.
Meanwhile, while PGMC enjoys large profits, the residents of Claver continue to suffer and endure the effects of the mining operations which deposited heavy siltation on their shorelines. Moreover, due to open pit mining, mountains have been leveled and deforested.
The PGMC mining site in Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao Del Norte, posted a production increase of more than tenfold in just 5 years. In 2007, it delivered a volume of less than 500,000 wet metric tons. And in 2012, it shipped 5.9 million wet metric tons.
Economic growth vs environmental degradation
The contribution of mining to the 2014 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was only 0.07% or P138.6 billion. Not even this amount and the mining industry's promises of strategic economic growth and employment can compensate the value of the destruction done to the environment. (READ: Mining in Caraga: Holding on to an Empty Promise)
Extractive activities like mining are one of the driving factors of climate change and disasters. Small particles released during mining operations, among other factors, contribute to global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer.
Elementary science taught us that forests absorb carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, massive deforestation due to large scale mining – by scrapping and open-pit operations – aggravates global warming and greenhouse effect. This is because of the large amounts of emitted gas that are no longer absorbed by Earth’s supposedly natural cooling band and carbon sinks: rain forests and the ocean body.
There are about 17% of greenhouse gases produced every time our forests are denuded. It is important to take note that 20% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation. Fossil fuel emissions from cars and industrial factories in urban areas escape to the atmosphere without the cooling band that traps and stores it. These cooling bands are our forests.
Mining in good faith
The PGMC experience tells us that we cannot just trust companies to faithfully comply with the processes required under the principles of sustainable development. Studies show that large volumes of mineral extractions result in the destruction of the environment and ecological balance.
Although variations exist, "sustainable development" is most commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Mining as espoused by the Philippine Chamber of Mines was drawn from the “best practices” of different countries' mining operations. It abides by the principle of sustainable development.
Sustainable development is an attempt to link the environment with development. Compliance with environmental laws is the most important tool in achieving sustainability. It requires communities to participate in the process of fulfilling and providing the needs of humankind equitably without destroying nature.
If this is how we are going to define sustainable development, then we can assert that it is nothing more but a myth that mining companies want us to believe.
Community welfare before profit
Anti-mining groups and advocates should call for a reevaluation and reinvestigation of mining operations in the country.
Community welfare must come before profit generation. The benefits of extracted mineral resources must be shared and enjoyed by the mining company and the people.
Prior to the issuance of mining permits, communities in the area must be involved. PGMC, for instance, should have conducted people’s consultation as a prerequisite to the application of permits and licenses.
Groups must go to the office of the Chairman of the House Committee on Environment to halt mining operations in Claver, Surigao. There should be mass mobilizations done at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), condemning the continued violations of our environmental laws.
Permits and licenses have long expired, yet the indiscriminate cutting of trees continues. The abuse of the environment by these parties must be stopped. – Rappler.com
Ruelie Rapsing is the media officer of the activist group Alab Katipunan. He has been an advocate of the protection of the environment and climate justice.