For several weeks now, various stakeholders here in my country, the Philippines, have been debating, clashing and trading barbs through the media on the benefits of mining.
On one side, giant mining companies, which earn big from the business, are defending the benefits of mining. It helps the local communities they say.
On the other side, environmentalists and local communities are stressing that mining does more harm than good. There aren’t a lot of extensive report on the impact of mining here in the Philippines but daily reports have made it to the headlines and usually point to the fact that mining, more often than not, is more detrimental to local communities that it is beneficial.
It is not to say though that mining cannot exist. Yes, clearly, mining is the source of many of the day-to-day products that we not only enjoy today but need as well. However, I believe that it should not be done in developing countries like the Philippines.
A video documentary on mining in Papua New Guinea produced by Human Rights Watch showed that the benefits of mining has not really trickled down to the local communities.
Here in the Philippines, the Finance Secretary, Cesar Purisima believes that the government deserves a much bigger share from ongoing projects.
“What we want is for the government to get a better share from mining,” he said. At least the government should get a 50 percent share in mining revenues, he said.
The current administration is currently consulting various stakeholders in the mining industry as its prepares to issue a new Executive Order on mining. I can only hope that if it cannot ban mining, it should ensure that the communities and the local government indeed get a greater share so the industry would indeed lead to development.
A forum on mining will be part of the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development. “The forum will foster a space for respectful discussion and debate about how to do mining responsibly in megadiverse countries,” it said.
The subject panels proposed issues of regional sustainability, environmental standards for the mining industry, economic linkages to bind sustainable development and policy for responsible mining.
I hope the practices in the Philippines will be part of the discussion. Fingers crossed.