Philippines Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has issued an order that will put a ban to open-pit mines in the country. In line of fire will be all open-pit mining for gold, silver, copper, and complex ores. Experts are of the opinion that this decision will impact three major projects in Philippines.
While open-pit mining is considered lucrative method by mining companies, it remains controversial owing to concerns by environmentalists owing to its potential impact on the environment. Echoing these concerns, Lopez said that open-pit mines were becoming a liability for the government, owing to the generation of pollutants. She added that a significant percentage of mining mishaps in Philippines were on account of tailing spills associated with open-pit mining. Lopez will be appearing for her confirmation hearing on May 2nd, and she is aware that her future may not be certain.
Unsurprisingly, the order has not been well-received by the mining industry group of Philippines. The Legal and Policy vice president of the industry group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said that Lopez’ could not “add or deduct from the law by herself.” He added that open-pit mining is not only used in Philippines, but all over the world, and mines could be later rehabilitated and the land used for other purposes.
The vice president also added that open-pit mining remained a feasible and effective way of mining mineral deposits that lie near the surface of earth. The executive president of COMP, Nelia Halcon said that the repercussions of such a ban can be catastrophic for the country.
While the government and COMP are in a fierce debate, experts are warning of an imminent energy crisis in Philippines if Lopez’ order is carried through. Many coal projects cater to the rising energy demands of the country, and analysts are of the opinion that any knee-jerk ban can cause an acute shortage in the country.
While there are many opponents of open-pit mining ban, one of the most influential supporters is the president Rodrigo Duterte. He has stood by mining bans and has said his country can do without the revenues generated through mining.
In the heated discussion on the mining ban, one thing that needs to be taken into account is that hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake. While the government figures estimates job losses around 234,000, the mining industry says the ban can affect over a million people – including those that don’t directly work in the mining industry.
The mining industry around the globe is in a midst of transformation, owing to acute pressure on increasing operational costs. Incorporation of smart, connected devices is underway at most mining plants, and it is estimated that by 2020, a significant percentage of miners would have adopted the technology. According to a research by Future Market Insights, the global smart mining will grow at 14.5% CAGR through 2020.