MGB defends lifting of open pit mining ban, says billions in revenue to help economy recover

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 29 2021 11:03 AM

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MANILA—The lifting of ban on open pit mining is part of the country's recovery efforts amid the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the mines bureau said Wednesday.

The open pit mining projects are expected to generate between P22 billion to P300 billion in revenues, Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Wilfredo Moncano said.

"The lifting of the ban on open pit mining is not really shortsighted," he told ANC's "Rundown". "It's actually looking at the future, paying for the loans that have been secured by the government to pay for the cost of the COVID pandemic."

In the interview, Moncano said there was public consultation on the lifting of the ban on open pit mining.

"A mining project cannot proceed without social acceptance from the community," he said, adding that local government units and IP communities must give consent to the projects.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued an order lifting a 4-year-old ban on open-pit mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores.

The government imposed the ban in 2017, when the DENR, which oversees the mining industry, was led by Gina Lopez, an anti-mining advocate who had blamed the sector for extensive environmental damage.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines welcomed the government's decision.

"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," it said in a statement.

But a coalition of anti-mining groups slammed the policy reversal.

"It's very difficult for us to accept that the DENR is prioritizing in fact a very insignificant economic return from mining at the expense of our forest and ancestral domain," Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, said in a separate interview.

For the coalition, there's no such thing as "responsible mining."

"I don't believe that the DENR especially the MGB has the political will to really make sure that the mining industry toe the line and practice rational mining."