February 8, 2023

Juan Kabayan

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Open-pit mining ban lifting boosts sector

BAGUIO CITY: The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has projected doubling of the number of mines in the country with easing of restrictions on processing of mining permits and lifting of the ban on open-pit mining.

Marshall Mateo, chief science research specialist of the MGB central office’s Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division, over the weekend said the more than 100 mines in the Philippines at present are expected to double in number with renewed processing of the permits to operate that had been pending over the past several years and the lifting of the ban enforced by the Duterte administration.

He added that the previous 1 percent contribution of mining to the gross domestic product (GDP) is also seen doubling with the opening of more mines.

Mateo said the suspension of the processing of mineral production sharing agreements or MPSAs and other mining permits and the implementation of the ban on open-pit mining greatly affected the country’s mining industry over the past several years, forcing some companies to close their mine sites and abandon their mining activities and affecting the overall state of the industry.

He said since the start of the processing of the mining permits and the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining last year, many mining companies with pending permits started to work on their applications to allow them to start their operations.

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MGB officials from various regional offices joined mining industry stakeholders at the 68th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) held last week in Baguio City.

The PMSEA is a volunteer organization that is strongly advocating for responsible mining and remains to be the frontrunner in occupational health and safety, sound environmental management, and social development.

Mateo said prospects of mining in the country remain bright because of prevailing high metal prices in the world market coupled with the presence of mineralized areas in different parts of the Philippines.

Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said the government supports responsible mining in the context of overall goals of inclusivity, resiliency and sustainable development.

Yulo-Loyzaga reminded mining companies not to be satisfied with their compliance with rules on responsible mining but instead elevate the same to higher levels that will contribute to the country’s growth.

She attended the minerals industry symposium and the Presidential Minerals Industry Environmental Awards, among the activities lined up during the week-long annual national mine safety and environment conference of the PMSEA.