Mining engineers support Duterte's call to protect environment

Photo via PSEM
LEGAZPI CITY--The Philippine Society of Mining Engineers (PSEM) on Wednesday expressed support to incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for mining companies to shape up or face closure once they continue to destroy the environment.

Felizardo Gacad Jr., PSEM president, admitted that there has been only a small number of environmental violations committed by the mining sector members in their operations.

Gacad said the notable mining flaws include small-scale mining operations, low level of compliance in securing mining and environment permits, lack of safety programs and political interventions.

“These glitches, however, are far outweighed by the strict adherence of the mining sector to the principle of responsible mining practices,” Gacad said.

Christian Oropesa, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) Bicol compliance division officer-in-charge, said that to address the problem on small-scale mining activities, the agency is pushing for the “Minahan ng Bayan” program wherein members of the community will be organized and trained to operate a small-mining project in their area.

Oropesa said there are two organized Minahan ng Bayan in the provinces of Masbate and Camarines Norte where villagers were trained to do the appropriate mining practices under the law.

Roger De Dios, a PSEM officer, told the media that the mining practices in the country are not perfectly implemented as they are influenced by outside forces, notably politicians and other influential people, that would like to meddle in the mining industry.

When asked how the industry would impact on a federal system of government, Gacad said it would give positive and beneficial effects -- especially to the host region, province and town -- in terms of revenue generations, income and employment.

He believes that under the federal system of government, the host local government units would be able to create and enforce laws that will harness and protect their rich mineral resources.

Cited to benefit from the federal system are the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines, and Masbate provinces where geothermal, metallic and non-metallic mineral resources are abundant.

Gacad said the mining industry contributes only about two percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

MGB reports indicate that the country is the fifth most mineral-rich country in the world for gold, nickel, copper and chromite,.

About 30 million hectares of land area in the Philippines are possible areas for metallic minerals.

The metal deposits in the Philippines are estimated at 21.5 billion metric tons and non-metallic minerals are at 19.3 billion metric tons.

The PSEM is holding a three-day mining engineers convention at the newly built Legazpi City Convention Center here.

Its 800 members are expected to craft a resolution elevating the standard of practices of the mining industry that would make the industry more resilient and strong amid the challenges and adversities. (PNA)

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