Responsible mining seen as key to curbing poverty—Binay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“The question is not whether we should mine or not, but how do we mine responsibly.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay caught the sentiment of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines when he made this remark during the recent Philippine Society of Mining Engineers (PSEM) convention in Davao City.
Binay said at the gathering that about 24 million Filipinos live in poverty despite the country’s mineral wealth.
“It is a strange contradiction that we grapple with the tentacles of poverty while we have billions of tons of metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits buried within our soil,” Binay told PSEM members.
Of the 9 million hectares in potential mining land, only 1.4 million hectares are covered by mining permits, Binay said.
“More than the environmental costs, the social and human profits emanating from mining should merit honest and profound focus to the true owners of the wealth, which are the people,” he stressed.
Communities hosting mining operations should be granted opportunities like education, health care, clean water and power as a bare minimum, while the creation of direct and indirect jobs should also be of prime importance including compliance with all government regulations and taxes which are non-negotiable, the vice president added.
While there may be some sectors that remain scarred by memories of past mining tragedies, these should not scare people into resignation or submission. “Instead, we should face these concerns squarely, by the proper implementation of the Mining Act, emphasizing responsible mining and environmental protection,” he said.
Responsible mining, according to the Chamber of Mines, can help solve poverty “if mining stakeholders put themselves fully to the task.”
Citing Binay’s message, the Chamber of Mines said the best minds and the knowledge of the industry would be crucial in helping policymakers and ordinary citizens obtain the truth about mining.
While the activity impacts surrounding environment, every measure of technology must ensure that the impact on the environment is managed to acceptable degrees and that proper rehabilitation is carried out after mining operations, the industry group said.—Riza T. Olchondra
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