MANILA— The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) formally invited President Rodrigo Duterte to visit one of the rehabilitated mines in the country in the wake of his recent pronouncements about open-pit mines.
“We like to invite the President to come and see some of the older mines that have been rehabilitated. We already know that he has flown to some of the newer mines like in Surigao that has not been rehabilitated yet,” said COMP Chairman Gerard Brimo, who also serves as the president of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), on the sidelines of the ongoing Mining Philippines 2017 International Conference and Exhibition on Wednesday.
“There are very good examples in the country that are surface mines, part of which have already been rehabilitated. We will be delighted to have the President visit some of those mines,” he added.
Brimo said the reality of the situation is that for deposits that are near the surface, “there’s only one way to mine, and that’s from the surface and that’s open pit mine.”
“The other reality is that it can be rehabilitated. There are technical ways. In nickel for example, we can do progressive rehabilitation. In Rio Tuba for example, in areas we’re rehabilitating, the vegetation is better than the original area,” he noted.
Brimo said COMP will be coming up with a list of rehabilitated mines that the President can visit.
The President on Tuesday asked Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu for the “eventual closing of open-pit mining” in the country.
In the same statement, Duterte said he will give mining companies enough “elbow room for eventual change in the modality of getting what’s inside the bowels of the earth”.
Amid this issue, the DENR assured that mining will continue in the country as this is one of the drivers of the economy.
“We can’t say if open-pit mine will be used, revoked, or banned but we are evaluating it because the President already announced that mining will continue. That’s the direction of the President and we will comply with that,” said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones in a chance interview with reporters during the Mining Conference.
“What we can assure you of, whatever solutions that will be undertaken by the Department and the MICC (Mining Industry Coordinating Council) will be based on best and in the national acceptable standards,” he said.