February 29, 2024

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is looking at the mining sector as one of the sources of the country’s economic recovery as per the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

During a budget hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance on Oct. 11, Sec. Ma. Antonia Loyzaga said DENR is working with the Department of Finance and other government agencies to identify different financial dimensions of mining activities in the country.

“We’re also looking at building up the capacity of DENR to perform its duty on assessing the applications, observing and monitoring the mining activities, and analyzing the impact on communities and ecosystems,” Loyzaga told the committee.

Loyzaga said the primary concerns of mining companies and investors are the constant changes in policies and the need to develop local processing of raw mining products.

“Most of what we export now is raw ore. So, we need an investment in the value-added processing so we can actually realize the full value of what we are able to export,” Loyzaga said.

“The mining industry holds the greatest potential to be a key driver in our economic recovery and long-term growth, especially now that world metal prices are high,” Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno said in a previous statement, but cautioned the government expects the mining industry to adhere to responsible and sustainable mining practices.

The country has been pitching investments in green metals such as nickel, cobalt, and copper, to American investors as part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s “Make It Happen in the Philippines” investment campaign.

Sen. Cynthia Villar said 9.8 million out of about 30 million hectares of land were identified by the DENR with high mining potentials

Villar said these areas can be explored for mining as it is not viable for agriculture.

She dismissed assumptions that mining is not good for the environment as long as it is legal.

“The one who destroys the environment are the illegal miners. We should instead allow legitimate miners,” Villar said.

The lawmaker said most of the small-scale miners are just being used as fronts for illegal miners, according to local chief executives in the provinces that she visited. – PNA