MAC: Mines and Communities

Influx of mining projects to do more harm than good?

Published by MAC on 2005-01-25
Source: Ibon Foundation

Influx of mining projects to do more harm than good?

Ibon Foundation

January 25 2005

Manila - The destructive impact of large-scale mining on the environment offsets any potential income from foreign investments, the think tank Ibon Foundation yesterday said.

"The projected earnings from mining investments are petty compared to the environmental destruction and displacement of rural and upland communities caused by unhampered, large-scale mining," Ibon Research Director Antonio Tujan said.

The administration has said it expects some $6.5 billion in mining investments in the coming years.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Philippine Mining Act is constitutional, paving the way for the signing of several service contracts with foreign investors.

Mr. Tujan said that following the High Tribunal's ruling, the government went into an "aggressive mode" to push 23 new and expansion mining projects expected to harness $840 million worth of mineral potential.

He said the country will lose more if it fully opens up mining to foreign transnational corporations or TNCs.

Mr. Tujan cited the contamination of the Abra River in Benguet, reportedly due to the operations of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., which now threatens the livelihood of some 197,630 residents. Apart from this, the environmental and health effects caused by the Marcopper mine waste spill in Marinduque in 1996 are still being felt today, he added.

"It is ironic how the government wants to revitalize mining by foreign investments, yet leave the issue of mine rehabilitation unattended," he said.

He claimed TNC mining operations have only worsened poverty, displacing residents and harming their sources of livelihood.

"Filipinos are also left to deal with long-term effects of mine tailings, contaminated water systems and denuded forest lands. Worse, government and mining officials have failed to account for their responsibilities, while the people pay for the costs," he said.

"In the end, it is not the investments that matter but the genuine social development of communities and sustainability of the environment."

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