Anti-mining groups proliferate these days. They want to ban mining because it is anti-environment. Do they really mean what they say?
Minerals and metals have been part of our way of life for thousands of years. Unless we go back to the Stone Age. Recall the Iron, Copper and Bronze Ages. Disclosure: I studied geology, mining and metallurgy courses at UP Diliman.
Let’s start with our homes. The refrigerator is made of steel. Stainless steel is made from iron, nickel and chromium. The tin cans for canned goods are made from tin and steel. The aluminum cans came from mined alumina. The glass we use is from silica sands.
And the house we live in is made from cement from limestone, steel bars and nails. And how will electrical appliances, like TV and air-conditioners, work without copper wires?
What are cars, ships, railways and planes made of? Cars cannot run without steel body, copper wirings, and batteries. Ship hulls are made of iron and steel. Add to that the cast-iron engines. Most airplanes are made out of aluminum, a lightweight metal. The Ford Tri-Motor, the first passenger plane from 1928, was made out of aluminum.
The most extensively used material in transmission line is aluminum. Glass optical fibers are made from silica. An optical fiber is a single, hair-fine filament drawn from molten silica glass. These fibers are replacing metal wire as the transmission medium in high-speed, high-capacity communications systems.
Some 32 countries use nuclear energy that uses uranium. Thirteen countries rely on nuclear energy for at least 30 percent of power generation.
What happens if coal mining is stopped now? Many power plants will cease operation. Power costs will rise. The Philippine economic growth will definitely slow down.
Diamonds are mined in Botswana, Russia and South Africa. Gold from many countries, including China, Australia, and Russia. Silver from Mexico, Peru, China and Chile. Emeralds and rubies are mined, too. Catholic churches use silver chalices.
We cannot do away with minerals and metals. Economics is important. But our way of life is at stake if mining is banned. In any case, mining comprised only 0.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or P112 billion in 2016. Contrary to claims, it is not small. Palay had P289 billion of GDP, coconut, P93 billion and corn, P73 billion. Moreover, the beverage industry contributed P127 billion, clothing and apparel P70 billion, and transport equipment, P48 billion (Source: Philippine Statistics Authority).
Where do we go from here?
Mining per se is not bad. Best practices in mining can be learned from Canada, Australia and other places.
Mining companies must behave according to rules. The Australian Center of Sustainable Mining Practices (ACSMP) notes that sustainable mining practices embed the principles of sustainable development into a mining and minerals context.
“At its core is the belief that through the responsible development of the world’s mineral resources, the global population will be able to access the mineral resources they demand for both a higher standard of living and better access to energy. It is an important tool in alleviating poverty. Companies that exhibit sustainable mining practices demonstrate the five pillars: Leading environmental practices, community engagement and support, economic development, safety excellence and optimum resource utilization.” (ACSMP).
Have I visited mines? Yes. I visited Philex Mines in Benguet, Semirara Mine in Caluya, Antique, and TVI Mining in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. They are responsible miners.
Am I pro-mining? You bet. And pro-development.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau issued a circular removing the need for cement manufacturers and holders of quarry and industrial sand and gravel permits to secure a mineral processing permit.
MGB said the move was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier pronouncement to lessen red tape and redundant requirements.
MPP is a permit granted to a qualified person for mineral processing. Mineral processing means the milling, beneficiation, leaching, smelting, cyanidation, calcination or upgrading of ores, minerals, rocks, mill tailings, mine waste and/or other metallurgical by-products or by similar means to convert the same into marketable products.
MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2017-02 issued on Feb. 6, 2017 by Environment Undersecretary and concurrent MGB director Mario Luis Jacinto states that “contractors who are engaged in cement manufacturing and holders of quarry and industrial sand and gravel [ISG] permits are not required to secure MPP.”
In spite of the country’s recent growth spurt, developments here and abroad may have put at risk an investment environment that took decades in the making. Many experts believe that the Philippines is facing uncertain times amid concerns over the sanctity of mining contracts, growing protectionism among global trade leaders, local political noise created by a firebrand president, and many more.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Concepcion III discussed with the Inquirer earlier this month some of the most pressing issues being faced by the trade department.
President Duterte’s economic managers said the country’s growth momentum remained, but more still needed to be done.
Here are some excerpts from the discussion.
Lopez: As the government, the keyword [we work around with] is “magbigay (give).” We have to give opportunities … the education and the training. You have to have that and the know-how.
Concepcion: To create businesses, you have to get these businessmen confident to start putting up a plant, expand their businesses.
The mining controversy
Q: What are we facing assuming Environment Secretary Gina Lopez proceeds with her cancellation and suspension orders against mining firms without due process?
Lopez: That would boil down to court cases everywhere, or an investment dispute settlement. I don’t want to think about that [since it has not happened yet].
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) will have to disagree with that. We all want the government to be protected, not to be sued.
We are talking about contracts. Those are meant to be honored. For us in the MICC, due process should prevail.
The President’s heart is in protecting the environment, that’s why he supports Gina. [But] you have to balance being a manager and being a secretary. You have to look at all of the stakeholders.
Concepcion: I know her. She is really passionate. There is no issue about it, but sometimes your passion and your advocacy should not overlap with your work because there are other people.
On how the mining controversy may affect the respect for contracts:
Lopez: If you audit [contracts] and you see deficiencies, give [the companies] time to cure. That’s part of due process. If you’re unable to correct the [deficiencies], then you don’t deserve to operate that way, so you really have to comply.
But there’s that period to cure … You cannot just cancel a contract that has been signed. They put billions there to develop it.
Concepcion: [Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who co-chairs MICC] told me the contracts have to be respected. If there are offenses, the penalty should be commensurate to the offense. In other words, if you committed a small offense, you cannot be given a big penalty, it should be commensurate. That’s the principle he has. The government has to respect the contacts.
Lopez: Protectionism is really against the tried and tested principles of globalization already adopted by almost everyone, especially if you are the leading economy and one of the leading economies in the world. [The US has been] at the forefront of globalization.
It’s so hard to think that [the US] would be the one to backtrack.
This [protection] would worry us, but it’s not yet there. The actual policies have not yet been issued, that’s why we’re assuming a more balanced view that the protectionist policies would not be recklessly issued in the end.
Concepcion: In the last Asean-European conference, I was explaining that that is the problem when a country [fails to become] competitive anymore.
[A country is] like a corporation. If I’m so big and I pay my people the high salary, out comes a company that is small, wages are under the radar. The Philippine model is like the China model. Our wages are more affordable.
America cannot afford to pay $500 to a call center operator, because the cost structure is very high, but that is the cost of being the Superman of the world.
In the cost structure of maintaining an army and policing the world, [the expectation of] being a superpower is very high, so eventually you would lose out against countries in the Asean who are hungry for market share. We are all fighting for market share.
America is going to innovation, technology. They should continue doing that. [They should] leave the labor to countries like ourselves because they can’t beat us anymore because of our cost structure.
On local manufacturing
Lopez: Manufacturing has been revived. [It’s now] at an 8 percent growth. It used to be a 2 to 3 percent year-on-year. It’s not a zero sum game [anymore]. Even services is growing by 8 percent. All sectors are growing.
The agriculture sector was affected by a storm, so it’s minus one. But actually, it already turned positive in the last two quarters last year.
Auto excise tax
Q: The car industry wants to lower the rates. What’s your comment on this?
Lopez: If you would ask them, of course they would want lower rates. But we also have to balance.
A 2-percent net increase, to me, is not bad at all. It won’t kill the heart of the program.
Q: It’s no longer open for negotiation?
Lopez: The only difference is that the government wants a 4-percent increase, while the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (Campi) wanted 3 percent. The difference is very minimal. It should no longer derail the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.
Q: How about the other recommendations? Like the request to expand the coverage from four tiers to seven.
Lopez: That’s already immaterial.
Concepcion: [We must look] at the overall good. The income tax would go down to 25 percent.
It would seem that President Duterte is in full support of his Environment Secretary Gina Lopez despite the loud outcry of the mining sector. I honestly believe that they also deserve their day in court and to be able to voice out their concerns. It’s quite sad that the industry has been vilified so badly when it may only a couple of bad apples in the barrel that should the reason for concern.
As I have mentioned in previous columns, I believe in responsible mining and what it does for the country for both resources and employment. I have seen it firsthand and I know a lot of the major players are doing their part in environmental protection and awareness all while responsibly handling their operations. I don’t think everyone should be made to suffer just because of a few mistakes – which can easily be remedied and removed.
I believe that government should think long and hard before pushing through with banning mining in the country. A compromise can definitely be reached through open dialogue and communication. This is something that is important so that both sides of the story can be heard and both sets of concerns can be put on the table. At the end of the day, nothing is ever one sided. It’s possible to come up with a solution that is win-win.
It seems like the Lopezes are ready for whatever outcome. Sigurista talaga. We’re wondering if the administration knows about this.
The Lopezes are savvy businessmen. They know how to take care of their assets. One of the ways they protect their businesses is to hinge their bets on winning politicians. They campaigned for PNoy. They campaigned for Grace Poe and Mar Roxas when both were frontrunners in the last elections. Now that Digong has won, they fielded one of their own for a government position in the person of Gina Lopez.
But what is this? One of the Lopezes, Ernie Lopez of ABS-CBN Publishing and a major player in the family business is seen bonding with one of Duterte’s fiercest critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes.
It seems like the Lopezes are ready for whatever outcome. Sigurista talaga. We’re wondering if the administration knows about this.
MAY mga kaso pala ng falsification of documents at syndicated estafa si Jean Philippe Henry ang French na ibinibida ni Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
MAY mga kaso pala ng falsification of documents at syndicated estafa si Jean Philippe Henry o JPH of EcoGlobal Inc. – ang French na ibinibida ni Environment Secretary Gina Lopez na kanyang mapagkakatiwalaan pagdating sa ating kalikasan.
Ito kasing si Gina ay bilib na bilib sa ideya ni JPH na magkaroon sa Rio Tuba sa Palawan ng bamboo farm na pang-wastewater treatment kuno sa mga minahan sa lugar kahit hindi naman talaga kailangan dahil sumusunod naman ang mga kompanya sa mga patakaran.
Ang matindi pa ay ito ring si JPH ang pinagkakatiwalaan ni Gina pagdating sa Pasig River rehabilitation. Kung ating matatandaan ay ito ‘yung foreigner na nag-present ng rehabilitation proposal for the Pasig River na iniharap ni Gina sa media kamakailan.
Kung natanso na siya ni Leo Jasareno – ang tao na dati nang ipinasisibak ni Presidente Digong Duterte at siyang maysala sa palpak na mining audit pero ginawa pa rin ni Gina na kanyang chief adviser sa DENR, napaglalaruan din siya ngayon ni JPH na nahaharap sa sangkaterbang kaso na isinampa ni Mercedes Zobel.
Nagsimula ang sigalot sa pagitan nina JPH at Zobel matapos na makakopo ang EcoGlobal Inc. ng Renewable Energy Service Contract mula sa Department of Energy. Ang sabi ni Zobel ay nabudol-budol siya nitong sanggang-dikit ni Gina na si JPH. Talaga nga yatang may problema si Environment Secretary Gina Lopez pagdating sa pagkilatis ng tao. May malaking problema kapag ganito, lalo’t hawak-hawak niya ang isang sensitibong puwesto sa gobyerno.
Some quarters are painting this as good vs evil. Why is mining evil? If we are to believe the misinformed, we could say it is anti-poor and anti-environment.
In this corner, we have Gina Lopez, NGOs, environmentalists, some religious personalities and Winnie Monsod. Oh, and the whole Lopez clan.
In that corner, we have the mining companies, its stakeholders, geologists and scientists.
Some quarters are painting this as good vs evil. Why is mining evil? If we are to believe the misinformed, we could say that it is anti-poor and anti-environment; it destroys the earth and… well, I don’t know how it is anti-poor.
Most people still believe that mining renders the soil and the water surrounding the sites uninhabitable and non-arable. It is not mining. It’s the minerals. Heavy metals make agriculture impossible. If surrounded by water, these metals prevent fisheries to prosper because the water will be uninhabitable.
So-called pundits also argue that the country benefits from the measly less than 1 percent contribution of mining to its coffers. Mining is only present in MIMAROPA and CARAGA regions. That is less than 2 pecent of the country. Context is important, as any writer or journalist worth their salt would know. What these pundits fail to account for is that mining impacts the income and employment of people wherever it is present–people who would otherwise not have jobs, let alone the income, as agriculture and fisheries are impossible in their area.
In this battle if perceptions, cold, hard facts and data are needed. The beauty of science is that it is always true regardless of how others may try and discredit it. While this post may not reach as many as Winnie Monsod’s, the facts and data will still hold true regardless.
Somebody please feature more scientists like geologist Dr. Caloy Arcilla. For unlike other so-called experts, they actually know what they are talking about.
Talagang doble-kara ang pamilya ni Gina Lopez. Sama-sama po nating ipaabot sa ating mahal na Tatay Digong ang pagtatraydor sa kanya ng mga Lopez.
Talagang mga tusong negosyante ang mga Lopez. Alam na alam nila kung papaanong poprotektahan ang kanilang kayamanan at mga ari-arian. Isa sa kanilang mga pamamaraan ang pagtaya sa mga liyamadong politiko. Tingnan ninyo ito: Ikinampanya nila si PNoy at nangampanya rin sila para kina Grace Poe at Mar Roxas nang frontrunners pa ang dalawa sa nakaraang eleksiyon. Ngayong nanalo na si Tatay Digong, itinanim naman nila sa isang puwesto sa gobyerno ang isang kadugo nila sa katauhan ni Gina Lopez.
Pero anong kababalaghan ito? Isa sa mga Lopez – si Ernie Lopez ng ABS-CBN Publishing at isang major player sa negosyo ng pamilya – ang nakita kamakailan na nakikipag-bonding kasama ang numero unong kritiko ni Tatay Digong na si Senator Antonio Trillanes at pati ang naghain ng impeachment complaint laban sa ating mahal na Pangulo na si Magdalo Congressman Gary Alejano. Kasama rin pala sa litrato ang dating Magdalo solon na si Ace Asedillo.
Ang sabi ay kinunan ang litrato (kung saan makikitang enjoy na enjoy sina Ernie Lopez, Trillanes, Alejano, at Asedillo) ilang linggo bago ihain ni Alejano ang impeachment complaint.
Talagang doble-kara ang pamilya ni Gina Lopez. Isipin ninyo, nakikipagsabwatan sila sa Magdalo para pabagsakin ang ating Tatay Digong. Segurista talaga ang mga Lopez. Anuman ang maging outcome, kailangang nandoon sila.
Kung si Senator Leila De Lima ay sumabit noon sa litrato nila ni Kerwin Espinosa, ang litrato namang ito ang tuluyang magpapagsak kay Gina at sa kanyang pamilya.
Sama-sama po nating ipaabot sa ating mahal na Tatay Digong ang pagtatraydor sa kanya ng mga Lopez.
The debate on the mining issue has elevated to the point of dividing the nation. While many are applauding environmental crusader Gina Lopez for bravely standing up and closing down mining giants to supposedly ‘save the environment,’ the same number may have only been led to believe that the DENR designate is indeed for the environment. So here is our question. Is Gina Lopez advocating for the environment or just using the DENR for business interest?
We must first look at the kind of business her family is into. Lopez Group of Companies’ is engaged in so many line of business from Media and Telecommunications, Power and Energy, Power Generation, Power Distribution, Real Estate, Infrastructure and Manufacturing. You might be wondering is a true die hard environmentalist will be ok on such line of business. Let’s see, First Balfour formerly First Philippine Holding according to its website, it was ‘responsible for the site grading and site improvement works for TSI Davao Coal-fired Power Plant. The 300 MW Coal-fired Power Plant of the Aboitiz Group.’ Coal-fired Power Plant you say? Is that bad?
According to Union of Concerned Scientists, “Coal plants are primary cause of global warming and a typical coal plant generates 3.5 million tons of CO2 per year.” It also said, “Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution.”
And to top it all to obtain coal it has to be mined! The process is by extracting coal from underground or open-pit mines. Does that sound too environment friendly to you?
Another of the Lopez’s latest money maker is the NPC Gas Pipeline Facility for the 1200MW Ilijan Combined Cycle Power Plant. We need not to elaborate just recall the issue of the Lopez family-owned First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) which leaked 700,000 liter of gas in the area surrounding the West Tower Condominium in Barangay Bangkal in Makati. That was a newsmaker in 2012!
There are actually so many on our list but we can always give Gina Lopez the benefit of doubt that perhaps all those are already part of history and as secretary of the DENR she is bent on doing her job. Is that really the case? Are you familiar with quarrying?
Quarrying definition, an excavation or open-pit, usually open to the air, from which building stone, slate, or the like, is obtained by cutting, blasting, etc. So what is it to her? Well, to Gina Lopez quarrying since needed is ok regardless of the effects on the environment. Besides, family business is into infrastructure and it must not be affected at all cost. Just check out her Memorandum Order dated March 10, 2017.
Let us ask the question again. Is Gina Lopez advocating for the environment or just using the DENR for business interest? By now you know the answer. Tell everyone because like you, they don’t know they are being used for business interest.