By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan
THE GOVERNMENT seeks to include small-scale mining operations to comply with the disclosure requirements of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI).
“To sustain the initiative and fully achieve the EITI objectives, indeed there is a need for greater participation by all stakeholders in the next report to be able to gauge more accurately the benefits versus the cost of natural resources development,” went a speech by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as read by Undersecretary Analiza R. Teh at the PH-EITI National Conference on Wednesday, April 18.
“To be more comprehensive, there is also a need to include the small-scale mining sectors in the reports. Although small in scale, this sector comprises thousands of workers and their families, and they also contribute a sizable share to the economy especially on the local front,” she added.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin, Focal Person and Chair of the PH-EITI, said for his part that, although they hope for voluntary reporting from small miners, they may compel them to disclose to the EITI as a condition to secure their Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs).
“We are hoping that we will enact the proper ordinance resolution to compel to report. The governance on small-scale miners now is in the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board. So we need to get that on board, we are working together,” Mr. Agabin told reporters.
Complying with the disclosure requirements would give the government accurate data on revenues they receive from small mines, as well as the amount of minerals it extracts.
Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) Executive Director Ronaldo S. Recidoro, meanwhile, said that small-scale mining has to “become part of mainstream mining.”
“They don’t pay taxes, or do social development work or do environmental protection work, they will not have reason to report. So we need to break that cycle somehow. We have to make small-scale mining part of the mainstream,” Mr. Recidoro said.
He also said the government has initiated a mechanism to declare the areas where small-scale mining cooperatives can operate, but noted that its implementation was “so slow.”
“It’s like around five minahang bayans have been declared so far. That has to be fast-tracked. They don’t want to get into the mainstream because there’s a big responsibility but they have to,” Mr. Recidoro said.
“They produce more gold than legitimate mining, and their impacts on the environment and the communities are bigger than the legitimate mines. That’s really the challenge,” he added.
Yesterday saw the launch of the 4th PH-EITI country report that piloted the inclusion of non-metallic mining industries.
The report reconciled mining sector data for 2015 and 2016, showing that the industry generated P27.29 billion and P27.55 billion in taxes for those respective years.
The EITI provides a platform to systematically report on, review, and assess what is being paid by companies and received by governments through a system of bilateral disclosures — to serve as a tool for lawmakers and civil-society groups in forming policies in the extractives industry.
By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan