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Mining firms ask for chance to prove worth

UP National Institute of Geological Sciences director Carlo Arcilla said the mining industry should not be set aside despite its measly one percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product. Philstar.com/stock

MANILA, Philippines - Mining stakeholders are appealing to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to give mining companies a chance to do their business and to continue to contribute to the growth of the economy amid the government’s intensified crackdown on irresponsible mining.

“Let’s give mining a chance. We have the laws and the provisions are very strict. The industry is asking to just let them do their business,” Philex Public and Regulatory Affairs senior vice president Mike Toledo said in a briefing yesterday.

UP National Institute of Geological Sciences director Carlo Arcilla said the industry should not be set aside despite its measly one percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product.

“Even if it’s just one percent, it might mean 100 percent to the involved communities. Mining is a complicated business, it’s easy to condemn but it can do a lot of good provided that it is regulated, the environment is protected and the government is willing to listen to experts,” Arcilla said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said mining could become a better industry if the government would be able to properly separate responsible firms from the irresponsible ones.

“There are already projects that have been lined up in the coming years. These are already approved and just need some pushing, “ COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said.

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Mining stakeholders also called on Lopez to distinguish her role as an environment advocate and as a current government official.

“I admire her advocacy and we need somebody like that. But now that she is a secretary, every time that a decision has to be made, she has to listen to scientific data, evidence and other information, then make a decision,” Toledo said.

Toledo also noted that there might be a little conflict between the mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its attached agency, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

“MGB is supposed to promote the mining industry while DENR is supposed to regulate. It would be difficult if the one promoting investments is also the one regulating. There might be a need for some structural reforms,” he said. – With Mary Grace Padin

 

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