Thursday, September 8, 2011

The impacts of mining in the Philippines


Mining is a top and very controversial environmental issue in the Philippines today. It is increasingly becoming a divisive issue too. The government cite economic benefits as sufficient justification to support and encourage mining. In fact, the Intellasia News Online (http://www.intellasia.net) reported on 08 August 2011 that the Philippines' Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has announced that about 5 million hectares of potentially mineralised areas across the archipelago are now open to local and foreign investors. On the other hand, environmental and religious groups strongly oppose mining because of its well-known negative environmental and health impacts.

A Fact-Finding Team composed of human rights and environmental experts from the United Kingdom which looked into the impact of mining on the environment and peoples' livelihoods in the Philippines highlighted the occurrence of mining-related human rights abuses affecting local communities especially indigenous people; extrajudicial killings of persons protesting against mining; corruption in the mining sector; political pressure on the judiciary resulting in pro-mining decisions; and environmental impacts.

The team observed that "the record of mining companies with regard to environmental protection, disasters and post-mining clean-up in the Philippines is widely acknowledged, even with the government, to be very poor. As of 2003, there had been at least 16 serious tailing dam failures in the preceding 20 years and about 800 abandoned mine sites have not been cleaned up. Clean-up costs are estimated in billions of dollars and damage will never be fully reversed."

It warned that "water contamination from mining poses one of the top three ecological security threats in the world. Many mining applications in the Philippines are in water catchment areas close to the sea, and pose major threat to valuable marine resources." The severe pollution of the Taft river system in Eastern Samar as a result of the mining activities in Bagacay is a vivid example (please see related article in this blog).

The report also emphasized the very high geo-hazard risks in the Philippines. "In the Philippines, over half of the active mining concessions and two-thirds of exploratory concessions are located in areas of high seismic risk where earthquakes are likely."

"The Philippines is considered as the hottest hotspot in the world in terms of threats to its mega diverse biodiversity. Thus there is an urgent need to properly manage its natural resources. It is estimated that 37% of Philippine forests may be exposed to new mining."

Should universities campaign for or against mining?

Some leading state universities in the Philippines are reportedly being pressured by environmental and religious groups to take an “official” anti-mining stand. Universities may take lead in promoting responsible mining and in fact should conduct relevant scientific investigations to prevent or minimize the impacts of mining on the environment and people. But universities should not take an anti or a pro mining stand. They should remain neutral and allow their constituents (the researchers and scientists) to evaluate facts and decide for themselves what stand to take about mining. A university should strive to seek the truth. Always.

Reference:

Doyle C, Wicks C, and Nally F. 2007. Mining in the Philippines: Concerns and Conflicts. Report of a Fact-Finding mission to the Philippines. Society of St. Columban, West Midlands, UK, 63pp.

14 comments:

Environmental Crusader said...

I support your opinion that a university that is supported by the government should not campaign against mining since the the government is endorsing it. But professors should not allow themselves to be used by mining companies as it is happening now to some professors from Leyte and Los Banos. They should put the interest of the people and the future generations ahead of their personal and greedy interests.

RsponsibleMiner said...

I agree. The university should maintain a neutral position and leverage on it as a fair arbiter of mining issues- using indisputable facts formed by a robust research and faithfully following the scientific method of reaching. But the academe should take an active position in exposing pseudo-scientists who go out to public and expresses opinions that they pass on as gospel truths.

Victor B. Asio said...

Thanks for your comments.I hope that the professors you are referring to will influence the mining companies to be more responsible and pour more money into the rehabilitation of the affected areas.

Victor B. Asio said...

To RsponsibleMiner:

Thanks. I appreciate your good comments. I support your idea that the academe should take action against those who deliberately misrepresent/misinterpret scientific data or evidence.

Anonymous said...

Para sa akin dapat din tumulong ang VSU to stop the destructive mining like in MacArthur Leyte.

Leyte Environmental Advocates said...

I pity the people in MacArthur and neighboring places. They just do not know the extent and danger of the pollution that will come in the next few years. Even without any environmental analysis, I am sure that the pollutants are now going to the rivers, ground water, and the sea. It is easy to imagine the owners and stock holders of the mining company getting rich and will escape from the place leaving the place destroyed and polluted, and many people suffering from the ill effects of pollution. If this is what we want, so be it. Walang sisihan!

private sectors said...

sir, thank you for making this articles. this was really helpful especially in waking p various organizations even our government sectors for this environmental unawareness. but sir, balancing the pros and cons of mining industry, what would be the more at stake.. why is ti that the government of various countries still letting this industry to exist. thus this implies that it have had a more environmental positive impact...

Victor B. Asio said...

Mining is a major source of income for many countries. This is the reason why it is done despite its many negative effects. Ideally, mining should be done in areas where the negative impacts will be minimal. Unfortunately, most mining companies and governments too tend to disregard this.

mad-hatter said...

good day sir, your articles have inspired us to make a research proposal related to your field of study. we are just scholars required to do a research and interested in the phytoremediation of Bagacay mine site. we are, however, innocent of these things. but we believe that, if offered a little help, we can finish our paper and get to submit it next week. thank you, sir.

Bruce said...

Thanks for an enlightening post
Australian deforestation

samar_private sectors said...

,, actually mining help mainly in nourishing country's economy.The fact that it was really patronized by various sectors of the government which enable to help boost the economic output and maintain its stability despite of some economic crises. However, with our leaders and inappropriate systems, we are bound with current problems that protrude from the inefficiency and improper practices and management which due to such selfish intentions. With my concern to our ecosystem and to our race, what could be the proper time where all of us awaken our sleeping mind in order to stop this ignorance. To the government leaders, I'm challenging all of you if you can. you are selected to administer some laws and policies needed for the good of the society. Remember, you can't take everything from nature in just one harvest but nature can take everything of your property in just a fraction of second. so we are all bounded with problems, so I know we can make it all.

samar_private sector said...

,,Samar is a mineral-reach province of region 8 and accounted with various sedimentary landscape and prone to deterioration if improper management will be applied. Thus, various sectors of the government and even private organization which came from abroad. Many were interested to its configuration and to it's nature, with this situation, the advent of mining happen which up to now was rampant in it's occurrence. As a citizen of this region and this noble place, we should interact with this problem in order to control nor to minimize it,s effect. WHEN, HOW AND WHAT COULD BE OUR ROLE. WHEN is the proper time we are going to face this problem like the predicament brought by BAGAKAY mines. how and why?, ,.......

UPCT grad student said...

To me, mining is not completely evil. It is needed to supply the minerals needed by the industry. But it should be done wisely, carefully and with a sense of environmental responsibility.

aljhef frias said...

i agree on your opinion sir

mining is not prohibited but government should think about what would happened to this certain place if it would be abuse. universities supported by government must not agree on their project. government must think about the people who live in this place and also the next generations people. i also think that we who not know what is right must remain neutral.

Frias MK2B