ATM Reaction on DTI Promotion of more Mineral Processing for Transition Minerals
ATM Press Statement | January 26, 2023
In general, ATM welcomes the idea that mineral processing is being considered by the Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) to increase the benefits from mining and possibly contribute to an energy transition as a response to climate change impacts. This is after all, part of a set of strategies that must be explored for proper minerals management, that includes the option of keeping the minerals on the ground if it is more costly to extract them.
We caution the government to ensure that this track does not remain myopic and imbalanced in viewing the role of minerals to our industrialization and our compliance to sustainable development.
Our alliance believes that the Philippine government must first ensure that we have a clear definition of a “just energy transition” and what are the contribution and roles of Philippine minerals towards this. This means that mining is part of a system that will ensure that everyone benefits from the production and deployment of renewable energy, without harming the environment and communities who are hosting or providing the raw materials for RE technologies. We are inspired by a comment of Earth Justice in 2021 that “we cannot justly move to a clean energy future at the cost of harming people or the environment”. 
We also strongly believe that any discussion about additional extraction of transition minerals should be informed by the principles of the circular economy and sustainable material consumption. We believe that any initiative on “transition minerals” can benefit from a general framework that we shouldn’t open up more mines in the Philippines to simply respond to the growing energy demands especially of developed countries and the Asian giant economies such as China and India. We must prioritize a robust and expanded cost-benefit analysis (CBA) applicable for directly affected host communities, the local governments and the nation as a whole. And this CBA must factor in the environmental, social, cultural and human rights cost of mining.
Even if we use econometrics alone, it doesn’t make sense that we are prioritizing an industry that merely contributes 1% of the GDP but threatens the other combined 14%-17% of GDP from agriculture, forestry and tourism is prioritized by government, especially in the context of climate change and extreme weather events. Any policy reform in mining should adequately address the question – “who benefits from this, both during the mine life and the generation after the mine is closed down?”
We recommend to the DTI, the Dept. of Finance (DoF) and the DENR that before any expansion of mineral processing and additional mining projects for transition minerals, policy reforms are necessary, particularly in operationalizing what the mining industry claims as “responsible mining”. Right now, the Alternative Minerals Management Bill AMMB) that has been languishing in Congress is the most comprehensive legislative proposal that should be prioritized.
Finally, we emphasize the general call of environmental defenders – “for this just transition to happen, we cannot allow more sacrifice zones in the name of mining, to provide the raw materials for renewable and clean energy”.