Envi group rejects lifting ban on open-pit mining

ATM Press Release

October 24, 2017

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a coalition of mining-affected communities in the Philippines, rejects the recommendation of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to lift the ban on open-pit mining. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) DAO 2017-10 prohibits the open-pit mining method for copper, gold, silver and/or complex ores.

ATM National Coordinator, Jaybee Garganera, said that ATM has anticipated this recommendation from the MICC, as it reviewed the controversial order from former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez.

“This is not surprising, and we are disappointed and frustrated especially the mining-affected communities. The MICC failed to consult the communities as legitimate stakeholders.”

ATM believes that the recommendation is for the benefit of the mining industry as the MICC itself is heavily influenced by the mining industry. DOF Usec. Bayani H. Agabin who was formerly a lawyer for the Rapu-Rapu Mining Inc., in Bicol headed the review committee. Meanwhile, MICC Co-chairman Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, whose family has investments in Sagittarius Mines, Inc., owner of the controversial Tampakan Mines in South Cotabato. Dominguez himself was a former president of a mining firm.

ATM noted that the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) has been actively engaging the MICC review committee for this review of the open-pit ban.

Though the MICC is only a recommendatory body, ATM believes this move might be the main basis of DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu to lift the ban on open-pit mining, escaping the accountability for endorsing the destructive mining method, despite his administrative power to uphold the ban.

“Allowing destructive open-pit mining method is allowing the destruction of the rich Philippine biodiversity, forests, ancestral domains and other natural resources, there’s no other way to interpret it. Permanent land-use change is still at the center of the open-pit mining. The long-lasting impacts of open-pit include forest clearing and extensive tree-cutting, water diversion, use of explosives, reduced access and volume of water resources by communities, and even physical displacement of families. Maintenance of toxic waste and acidification are also serious perpetual obligations."

Garganera also questioned the move as inconsistent with the “responsible mining” track of the mining industry and the government. “This is evidence that the myth of “responsible mining” remains strong, as we don’t have a legal definition of “responsible mining”, there are no parameters to measure it and certainly, lifting the ban on open-pit advances the practice of irresponsible mining by some mining companies”, Garganera added.

Garganera urged Sec. Roy Cimatu to “to retain and implement the ban on open-pit mining and the suspension and closure orders issued by Lopez in February 2017, as the Secretary of the DENR has the mandate and the obligation to ensure that the ‘common good’ and the ‘right to a safe and sound ecology’ is upheld.” He reminded Sec. Cimatu to clearly follow the instructions and pronouncements of Pres. Duterte in addressing the mining issue.

The alliance also called upon Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte to immediately instruct Congress to address the long–standing issues on mining by enacting a new mining law, a priority he promised as soon as the Marawi Crisis is resolved.

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ALYANSA TIGIL MINA (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

For more information:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>

Karl Isaac Santos, Media and Communications Officer, (0917) 149.17.17 <media.comms@alyansatigilmina.net>

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