Pro-mining group presents ‘other side of the coin’

Posted on August 06, 2016

DAVAO CITY -- A newly-formed pro-mining group has countered the attack by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his environment chief on the industry by presenting testimonies of beneficiaries of “responsible mining”.

Stand FIRM (Filipinos for the Institution of Responsible Mining), composed of professionals and students of mining and geology, was launched at a gathering here yesterday where the two-day Mindanao Environment Summit was also concluded.

Mr. Duterte and Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez were present at the summit on Thursday where the former referred to mining as a “sunset industry”.

Stand FIRM deputy head Aldus Q. Pitogo, a recent graduate of BS in Mining Engineering from the state-run University of the Philippines Diliman, said the sweeping statements of government leaders is overshadowing the reality of responsible mining.

“Basically responsible mining is rehabilitation, proper payment of taxes, respect for human rights and proper payment of royalties to communities affected,” said Mr. Pitogo who comes from General Santos City.

“We believe that conclusions and statements about the mining industry should be backed up by science and evidence,” he said, adding that the group plans to hold a nationwide roadshow on the tenets of responsible mining.

Among those who spoke at the Stand FIRM gathering were scholars of large-scale mining companies who are pursuing related studies in local academic institutions.

John Darwin S. Amag, a scholar of National Development Corp. (NADECOR), which has a copper-gold project in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, said he is determined to fight for responsible mining.

“I am sure we are all gathered here for one reason: we are all pro-mining. Each of us has his own story why we are standing firm to fight for responsible mining. I am a walking proof of sustainable development. A lot of people say responsible mining does not exist anymore. But here I am... the mining company gives me the opportunity to study,” said Mr. Amag, who comes from an indigenous people (IP) community within NADECOR’s project area.

“Simply they don’t understand both sides of the coin,” he said.

“How are we going to apply what we have studied if mining will be stopped? Go abroad? We are one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to mineral deposits so what we are going to do with those resources? What a waste of opportunity,” he added.

Danilo T. Dice, a scholar of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) of the Tampakan gold-copper project that encompasses the provinces of South Cotabato and Davao del Sur, said the company’s entry brought economic activities into their remote village.

He said, “We are still hopeful na matuloy ang Sagitarrius kasi ang mga tao doon kailangan nila ang tulong ng SMI (that the project will push through because the people there need SMI’s help).” -- Maya M. Padillo and Carmencita A. Carillo