Friday, February 03, 2006

Mining Act will not lead to industrialization

1 February 2006


> The scientists’ group AGHAM agreed with religious leaders in their
> call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995, saying the present policy on
> mining will not lead to industrialization but will rather increase
> environmental destruction and accelerate poverty in the countryside.
> “The Mining Act of 1995 seeks to intensify the resource-extractive
> nature of the industry through large-scale mining with the raw or
> semi-processed products from mines being directly exported to the
> international markets,” says Trixie Concepcion, AGHAM
> Secretary-General.
> “The Mining Act does not seek to develop local downstream industries
> that will enable the country to process raw mineral ores into
> products, rather, it seeks to relegate the country into a mere
> provider of raw materials for the international markets. This rush to
> extract more minerals for the international markets makes the mining
> industry fundamentally unsustainable and environmentally destructive.
> This issue, together with the human rights violations usually
> associated with mining operations makes large-scale mining
> unacceptable to local communities,” Concepcion adds.
> AGHAM however believes that mining can play a key role in
> industrialization only if it supports the creation of local
> industries. This entails the development of smelting, refining and
> fabricating industries, and various metal processing facilities that
> will enable the country to produce simple metal products which are
> badly needed by agriculture and local industries. Raw mineral ores
> will primarily be supplied to local industries that cater to people’s
> needs. AGHAM believes that it is only in this context that mining can
> become sustainable and acceptable to the people.
> Reacting to the claims of the Philippine Chamber of Mines that the
> call to scrap the Mining Act will affect some 10 million people,
> notes that statistics from the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB)
> show that mining and quarrying only employs about 104,000 employees,
> mere 0.3% of the total workforce of the country.
> “They are exaggerating their claims that the scrapping the Mining Act
> will affect more than 10 million people. Even the MGB admits that
> large-scale mines can never absorb much labor owing to the
> equipment-intensive nature of large-scale mining,” says Dr. Giovanni
> Tapang, AGHAM Chairperson.
> “What the Philippine Chamber of Mines is truly concerned about is
> securing the investments of their shareholders. We are actually
> questioning if such investments actually translated to the
> of local communities. Large-scale mining operations in Marinduque,
> Mankayan in Benguet and many other areas failed to uplift the
> of living of their surrounding communities. A scientific study on the
> effects of mining actually show that mining worsens the poverty in
> many areas by destroying the livelihood of local communities,”
> concludes Dr. Tapang.
> With Malacañang rejecting the CBCP’s call for the scrapping of the
> Mining Act, it is clear that the present government does not have the
> best interest of its people in mind. AGHAM sees no option but for
> local communities, the religious sector and other sectors of the
> society to unite themselves to advocate for a mining policy that will
> truly serve the interest of national development.
> ############

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