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Public–private deal eyed for abandoned PH mines
Rimaliza A. Opiña
Environment, 4-13-2014

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) is proposing for a partnership with the government for the rehabilitation of abandoned mines in the country.

The proposal is now being heard by the House Committee on Natural Resources as part of the ongoing inquiry on the status of abandoned mines, which aims to find remedial measures to make abandoned mines productive again.

In the Cordillera, the abandoned mines include Black Mountain along Kennon Road, Tuba; Western Minolco in Kapangan; and Sto. Niño in Tublay, all in Benguet.

Currently under “rehabilitation” is the Black Mountain Mines, which is worth P13 million. The rehab, however, is limited to slope stabilization.

A mine site in Samar is currently under rehabilitation and was funded through a government loan from Australian Aid.

CMP Vice president for Policy Ronald Recidoro said funds for rehabilitation need not come from public coffers if government agrees with the CMP’s proposal for the cancellation of prior mining rights over abandoned mines, and upon identification and recommendation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, reopen these sites for mining application, without prejudice to any legal action for breach of contract the government may file against the erring companies. 

“The MGB must conduct scoping studies of all abandoned mines and mineral processing impact areas to create an inventory of abandoned mines, define the costs and risks, and develop a rehabilitation program to mitigate observed and potential threats to human health and the environment.

Mine site rehabilitation plans must aim to establish a land use capability that is functional and proximate to the land use prior to the disturbance of the mine area, unless other more beneficial land uses are predetermined and agreed in partnership with local communities and LGUs,” the CMP quoted Recidoro in a press release.

Recidoro said government can come up with a funding mechanism for a rehabilitation program that can address environmental and social issues posed by abandoned mines.

Recidoro said if there are still ore deposits left, remaining minerals can be extracted to fund the final decommissioning and rehabilitation. A fixed percentage of the revenues must be set aside to fund the final mine rehabilitation and decommissioning plan. He said if this is implemented, the government need not spend public funds or borrow from international lenders to fix the problem.

The CMP said if abandoned mines were left un-rehabilitated, this may form hazards to human and animal life in the form of accessible adits or mine entrance, shafts and pits, as well as associated pollution, such as acid drainage, from old workings and stockpiles. “Visual degradation is an issue in some areas, even if the site is not actively eroding.  In some places, ongoing erosion can affect land stability, as well as impact re-vegetation efforts and groundwater quality.”

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