MANILA— The government is committed to make the mining industry contribute more to the country’s economic growth, without sacrificing the environment and the well-being of the local people.
This was stressed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu in his speech read by DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones at the second day of the Mining Conference 2017.
“Given the enormous mineral potentials in the country, we in the DENR, are serious about making right the sound management of our mineral resources. Hence, we have adopted the DENR development framework anchored on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the long term vision of the country or the ‘Ambisyon Natin 2040’, the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan and DENR’S Program For Environment And Natural Resources For Restoration, Rehabilitation And Development or PRRD,” he said.
Under the PRRD, the department has identified mining as one of its focus areas. Priority programs to implement in the PRRD are:
- Restoration of forest and protected areas;
- Good and effective governance in environmental protection;
- Adaptation to climate change and sustainable use of natural resources;
- Social justice in land titling; and
- Conservation of coastal and marine resources
Of the Philippines’ total land area of 30 million hectares, some 9 million hectares have high mineral potential in metallics and non-metallics. Of this, only 2.5 percent or 748,866 hectares are covered by mining tenements.
These areas are still subject to the mandatory relinquishment by contractors, which means that areas in a tenement that are no longer feasible to mine should be given back by the mining company or contractor to the government or to the landowner.
On the other hand, some 2.2 million square kilometer Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with total shoreline of 35,286 km – considered the third longest shoreline in the world, have huge mineral potential.
To make the industry more competitive in the global market, Cimatu said the DENR came up with policy initiatives and directions such as easing up or reduce the cost of doing business in the country; processing of environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for Environmentally Critical Projects within 40 days while ECC for Projects in Environmentally Critical Areas is processed within 20 days; and streamlining of mining application procedures.
Cimatu said the government also encourages mineral processing in the country to maximize benefits from the mining industry and hence, is also fast-tracking its infrastructure and energy programs.
This entails the establishment of a robust mine-to-metal value chain to ensure availability and security of materials and commodities and minimize risks and the formulation of policies on minerals and metals-led industrialization initiatives.
The DENR chief said the government will also conduct a resource inventory and further exploration to determine mineral resources and their potentials — such as the mineral exploration in the Benham Rise.
It would also conduct “strict and continuous monitoring of mining operations so they comply with mining and environmental laws and other relevant laws; and immediate investigation and imposition of penalties and sanctions on violators,” he stressed.
The DENR will also pursue immediate implementation of rehabilitation/remediation of areas due to the adverse effects/damages of mining operations and the prompt assessment and payment of compensation to affected individuals.
“While the DENR aims to promote the rational exploration, development, utilization and conservation of mineral resources guided by its commitment to sound environmental management and to provide a competitive investment climate and adequate protection of the rights and privileges of mining investors, we also enjoin the mining industry to do your best to comply and even go beyond compliance to mining, environmental and other relevant laws. You also need to build each other up and police your ranks,” said Cimatu.