Aug 022016

Mining companies, whom President Rodrigo Duterte and his environment chief Gina Lopez castigated over irresponsible practices, say they welcome the government’s recent statements.

MANILA, Philippines — The mining industry has taken President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent warning as a challenge to continue keeping up with the standards of responsible mining in the country.

“We continue to take the President’s statements as a challenge for us to step up our efforts and practices in adhering to the tenets of responsible mining,” the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said.

On Monday, Duterte issued a stern warning to mining firms as he vowed to be tough on businesses that are destroying the environment and violating government standards.

“If you refuse to obey, I will place you inside the mining pit and cover it. You want to try it, fine. Let’s do it. You say mining is a critical component of the Philippine economy, of course it is, it’s income. But you are also making a critical damage,” he said.

Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) also welcomed Duterte’s announcement to forego the P40-billion mining investments.

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“We believe the statistical data that mining is not a significant contributor to the country’s gross domestic product of less than one percent and 0.04 percent of the total jobs,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera told The STAR.

“Mining directly threatens our agriculture, water and tourism economic activities, so it must be effectively regulated. If not, we risk compromising our food and water security and reduced eco-tourism potential,” he added.

Meanwhile, listed Nickel Asia Corp. has stuck to its previous stand on the emphasis of the utmost need to follow the law and comply with government standards.

“Should be as it should be. There’s no place in our society for the illegal or the irresponsible,” Nickel Asia Corporate Communications vice president JB Baylon said.

“We are one with his call for full compliance with the law and international standards, as well as in his fight against illegal and irresponsible mining,” Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp. added.

The chamber also clarified that the Foreign Technical Assistance Agreement provides for a 50-50 sharing formula with government.

“And when there are windfall profits, government still gets an additional share of 60 percent when the windfall is over 50 percent,” it said.

In the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement, the chamber said government gets a 45-percent share, depending on prices of commodities.

“But when prices are low, government still gets more than the companies. The prevailing assumption that government only gets 18 percent from mining operations is completely false and baseless,” it added.

“We are covered by a strict edict to safeguard our people, environment and country’s interests and we will continue to abide by the law as the President has stressed to us in the industry and support his effort to weed out the irresponsible miners who conduct their business without regard for the law,” the COMP added. — Video report by Efigenio Toledo IV

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