After several years of restrictive policies that have been blamed for stalling the industry, the government now wants to be stalled and new mining projects in full motion to attract investments and help rejuvenate the pandemic-hit economy of the country.
Wilfredo Moncado, DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director told in a press release that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had signed an order lifting the ban on open-pit mining in the country.
Section 6 of DENR Administrative Order 2021-40 explicitly declared:
This Order shall hereby lift the ban on the use of the open-pit method of mining for the extraction of copper, gold, silver, and/or complex ores in the country as provided under the DAO No.2017-10.Section 6 of DENR Administrative Order 2021-40 explicitly declared:
The lifting of the said ban came after the late Gina Lopez, Cimatu’s predecessor and a conventional environmental advocate imposed the ban which effectively shut down all existing open-pit mines in the country since 2017.
The ban irked and affected thousands of the country’s miners who asserts that large copper and gold deposits of the Philippines could only be utilized through open-pit mining. To date, open-pit mining remains to be the acceptable method of extracting near-surface or shallow mineral deposits globally.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines welcomed the decision of the country with respect to open-pit mining, saying it will allow the industry to contribute more to the country’s economic recovery.
“As most mining applications propose the use of the open-pit method, this decision will enable the industry to contribute more to our country’s economic recovery, particularly from the devastating effects of this ongoing pandemic, through investment promotion, job creation, and poverty alleviation,” COMP spokesperson Rocky Dimaculangan said in a media interview.
According to the government, the country’s annual export revenue from its mineral extraction industry could increase by up to $2 billion over the next five to six years as new mining projects take off.
The country is China’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also has a substantial copper and gold reserve yet only less than 5% of its mineral reserves have been extracted so far, according to the mines and geosciences bureau. More than a third of the Philippines’ total land area of 30 million hectares has been identified as having “high mineral potential”.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also reiterated that the mining industry has the potential to be a major contributor to the post-pandemic recovery efforts of the country as it is expected to lead to the immediate development of 11 pending projects that are expected to generate about P11 billion combined in yearly government revenue, increase annual exports by P36 billion and provide employment to 22,880 people living in remote municipalities.
The fears of redress to the environment by advocates is not bereft of logic. However, environmental authorities around the globe and the Philippine government are in harmony in expounding that with a vigilant, knowledgeable, and thorough planning and regulation of mining corporations and activities, open-pit mining remains to be a safe and acceptable method of extracting shallow minerals available.
With projections of billions of Pesos in revenue and generation of thousands of job opportunities for Filipinos in remote corners of the country, this move by the government to rejuvenate a feeble economy brought about by the global pandemic is guaranteed to benefit Filipino laborers and employers alike for the years to come.