By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

Miners upbeat on growth despite gov’t crackdown

Posted on August 22, 2016

MINERS said they can thrive even under tougher regulation from the new government, based on the promise of greater investment in the industry.

“(President Rodrigo R. Duterte) is inviting investment so we’ll be part of that,” said Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) Executive Vice-President Nelia T. Halcon in a phone interview.

Asked on her view of the President’s observation that mining is en route to becoming a “sunset industry,” Ms. Halcon said: “I think he was referring to the irresponsible miners only. Duterte only instructed to follow the law and work responsibly. That’s all.”

The president also said that the country “will survive as a nation without (mining)“ downplaying the P40 billion in revenue earned by the government from mining annually.

In response COMP said in a statement: “The industry’s contribution to the economy may be small at this time due to the uncertainties it has suffered the last six years. If it is promoted and developed to its fullest in a favorable investment environment, it can become a game changer in economic development.”

For his part, newly installed Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Mario Luis A. Jacinto said that “mining is always a substantial investment” but its potential to be an economic booster boils down to how the country’s makes use of its resources.

“It will depend on the options that we have. We have resources but how do we utilize it because these are God-given resources like any resource,” Mr. Jacinto said in a phone interview.

Jose Bayani D. Baylon, vice-president for Corporate Communications of NickelAsia, concurred in seeing positive prospects.

“I believe there are prospects for growth because I do not believe the Philippines can turn its back on responsible mining,” said Mr. Baylon in a text message.

In a three-day conference starting Tuesday, miners are set to gather to discuss the future of mining and game plan for the new reality of tougher regulation. The conference this year is called “Realizing the Potential of the Mining Industry as a New Regime.”

The event will showcase best practices in environmental protection, economic efficiency and social development amid challenges in the international and domestic markets.

“The mining industry is an important sector of the economy as it is basic in any plan for industrialization,” added CoMP.

“The only way to move forward is through responsible mining and we remain confident that Chamber members still have a crucial role to play in nation-building since those gathered for Mining Philippines are pioneers and leaders in responsible mining in the country and the world,” CoMP President Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez was quoted as saying in the CoMP statement.