MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Reyes asks mining investors to reach out to communities

Published by MAC on 2006-11-19

Reyes asks mining investors to reach out to communities

By Norman Bordadora, Inquirer

19th November 2006

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Angelo Reyes yesterday asked mining investors to reach out to the communities around their respective mining sites to help boost the image of the industry seen by the administration as a ticket out of the Third World.

In a statement, Reyes said mining firms should engage the communities in their mining sites to minimize conflict with various stakeholders and convince them of mining's benefits even after the operations have already ended in the locations.

False or mismatched expectations can potentially lead to conflict. Thus managing expectations, through constant communication with stakeholders, is the most critical challenge of community relations during the exploration phase. More so, given the odds of finding an economically viable deposit, most exploration projects will fail," he said.

During the operational phase, mining companies need to ensure that the promised benefits of mining really do accrue to the local communities.

"The key is to identify socioeconomic opportunities that are genuinely desired by the host communities," Reyes said.

"Through the promotion of self-supporting communities through the provision of entrepreneurial, livelihood and other skills to serve as an economic base, mining players can create sustainable communities even after the closure of mine sites," he added.

Reyes said that the regulations and standards ensuring that mining operations do not harm the environment will get more stringent as the government has to delicately balance the protection of the environment with the need to boost the economy through the promotion of mining.

"Right from the start, mining has had problems in finding a place in the vision of sustainable development, given the reality of nonrenewable resources. The general perception is, once extracted, minerals are gone and therefore, mining is in conflict with sustainable development," Reyes said.

"Add to the equation that mining has a poor public image and is facing social opposition. The image of abandoned mines, tailings dams, waste dumps and ghost communities is imprinted in the minds of many Filipinos," he said.

Reyes said principles of sustainable mining have long been enshrined into the National Policy Agenda on Revitalizing Mining in the Philippines, and it is just a matter of "all mining players from the private and public sector facing the challenges together."

Reyes admitted in a mining conference in Baguio City that mining has a poor public image, necessitating the need for mining investors to reach out to their host communities.

In his speech before the 53rd Annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference, Reyes said responsible mining can benefit not only a select few but the entire country if undertaken under a sustainable development paradigm.

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