The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines expressed delight over the government’s decision to lift the ban on open-pit mining, saying it has been “a long time coming” and will encourage more investments in the country.
In a statement, the JFC said in a statement that it “welcomed the terms and conditions set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for open-pit mining operations to ensure these will be environmentally and socially sustainable.”
Metallic mining could be a major boost to the Philippine economy, especially in rural areas, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Julian Payne said in a BusinessWorld report. He added that mining can substantially increase the country’s gross domestic product in the long-term given its huge potential.
The Department of Finance also backs the DENR’s decision to resume open-pit mining operations, saying that the latter can strictly implement the safeguards provided for in Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
“The matter was extensively discussed in the [Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC)] and with advice and guidance from experts, the recommendation was to lift the ban. Adequate safeguards can be implemented to ensure the safety of this mining method. Strict monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance with environmental standards shall be undertaken to prevent any abuse in the implementation of this type of mining activity,” Finance Sec. and MICC co-chair Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement.
Just before Christmas, Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu signed an administrative order reversing the ban first implemented in 2017 by his predecessor, the late Gina Lopez.
The ban was imposed back then on allegations that open-pit mining causes negative impacts on the environment, such as soil erosion and chemical leaks into surrounding water systems.
Environmental groups under the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) have slammed the Duterte administration for lifting the mining ban, saying it added insult to injury of many victims of Typhoon Odette.
The group blamed open-pit mining for the destruction of watersheds in Central Visayas and CARAGA regions, which felt Odette’s effects.