MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining Investments Coming Only In Trickles

Published by MAC on 2007-05-15
Source: PCCI

Mining investments coming only in trickles

Only a few mines have started actual operations - PCCI


15th May 2007

BAGUIO CITY - Mining investments in the country have been coming only in trickles since the passage of the controversial Mining Act of 1994 that was initially thought to make a difference in reducing mass poverty in rural communities.

This was disclosed in a study commissioned by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to determine the readiness of the country's mining industry in absorbing trade liberalization.

The report concluded that the "ghost of irresponsible mining" continues to haunt one of the most competitive segments of the economy, citing man-made tragedies caused by negligent operators, like Marcopper, whose solid and liquid wastes wreaked havoc in the communities that hosted them.

The Philippine Export News and Features stated the gold curse seem to have haunted the country since the most of the people remained dirt poor even when the mining boom was at its height in the 1980s when gold hit an all-time high price of 0 [sic] per ounce.

The PNF noted that the study stated that the country remains one of the richest in the world not only with precious metal reserves like gold, silver, nickel and copper but also with non-metallic raw materials such as silica for glass manufacturing and limestone for cement making.

However, only a few gold, copper and nickel mines have started actual mining operations since the collapse of the industries when all companies, except Philex and Lepanto mines, closed shop.

The study also stated that locally produced cement is costlier in the country than anywhere in the Asian region due to a cartel that fixes high prices while only some glass factories are in place. These include Asahi Glass, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp.

The study stated that if fully tapped, mining should make the difference in the country's poverty reduction program in the rural communities by generating tens of thousands of jobs and by boosting downstream industries such as fine jewellery trade.

It was claimed that the problem does not lie with the policy on environment because the country's mining laws are considered superior to those of the United States and Canada in environment safety nets and ensuring social responsibility.

The new mining law requires mining companies nationwide to segregate a portion of their capital for the so-called social development programs in the communities where they operate. With this proviso, displaced residents and other beneficiaries have the chance to have their own sources of livelihood while improving vital infrastructures to link them with other parts of the region.

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