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Foreign businesses laud lifting of ban on open-pit mining

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Foreign businesses laud lifting of ban on open-pit mining
“The DENR decision will enable the metallic mining industry to contribute substantially to the longer-term growth of the Philippine economy and to benefit Filipinos, particularly those in remote mining areas where poverty and unemployment rates are high,”said Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham) president Julian Payne.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) welcomed the government’s move to lift the ban on open-pit mining, saying it would allow the industry to contribute to the growth of the economy.

“The DENR decision will enable the metallic mining industry to contribute substantially to the longer-term growth of the Philippine economy and to benefit Filipinos, particularly those in remote mining areas where poverty and unemployment rates are high,”said Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham) president Julian Payne.

“The additional tax revenue generated by large mining for both national and local governments could help fund much needed environmental protection and social welfare programs, among other government activities,” he said.

In December, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu signed Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2021-40, which lifts the ban on the open-pit method for mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores in the country, which was issued in 2017.

The new DAO also provides additional enhanced parameters and criteria for surface mining methods.

It aims to revitalize the mining industry and usher in significant economic benefits to the country by providing raw materials for the construction and development of other industries and by increasing employment opportunities in rural areas where there are mining activities, thereby stimulating countryside development.

The DAO also targets to establish enhanced parameters and criteria for the types of surface mining methods under the declaration of mining project feasibility (DMPF) to address the environmental and safety issues of surface mining methods particularly open-pit mining.

Payne said JFC members also welcomed the terms and conditions set by the DENR for open-pit mining operations to ensure these will be environmentally and socially sustainable.

“Good practices in large scale mining in countries such as Australia and Canada have demonstrated this is quite possible given appropriate regulatory and fiscal frameworks for mining,”Payne said.

Apart from CanCham, other JFC members include the American Chamber of Commerce of the Phils., Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (Phils.), European Chamber of Commerce of the Phils., Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of the Phils., Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Phils., and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) spokesperson Rocky Dimaculangan earlier welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“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 pandemic through investment promotion, job creation and poverty alleviation,” Dimaculangan said.

He said thousands of mines worldwide have adopted the open-pit method, including Australia, Canada and the United States.

“There are economic, safety, and environmental considerations for employing this method.  Where underground mining cannot be applied, the open-pit method is primarily employed although there are other forms of surface mining. The shape, nature and location of the ore body determine the mining method,” Dimaculangan said.

“Open-pit mines can be operated safely, according to globally accepted standards, and can be rehabilitated properly in a manner that provides alternative and productive land use after the life of the mine,” he said.

The Foundation for Economic Freedom also welcomed the decision to lift the ban, saying such a move would accelerate the growth of the mining industry.

“Promotion of responsible mining will be a big boost for the economy, especially at this time when the country is still reeling from the pandemic,“ the FEF said.

It said this would generate much needed government revenues at the national and community level at a time when fiscal resources have been strained by the pandemic.

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