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Gold Mining in the Philippines

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Gold Mining: Why it should be banned in the Philippines?

Gold mining in the Philippines can be traced hundreds of years back before the colonizers came to the country. As early as 1521, our ancestors were already panning gold and have decorated themselves with gold accessories. As years passed, the growth of the mining industry has increased. In 1995, Philippine Mining Act was passed which the government allowed foreign companies to fully operate in the country; it created backlash from Filipinos stating that they should be the only ones to mine their own resources but the government still allowed it for large investments coming from foreign companies which will boost the economy. 1

The country’s mining industry was also ignited by the legend of Yamashita’s treasure. The legend has attracted tourists and curious treasure seekers to look out for the supposed ‘treasure’ of gold that the Japanese Army had hidden in the different parts of the country. 2

It seems that gold mining is a lucrative business. But is mining helpful to the country?

Mining have garnered vast impacts in every aspect of the country.

It boosts the economy by letting the mining companies give the government its share of their profits. But only a margin of profits is being given to the government. According to Governor Joey Salceda of Albay, “which hosts the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project, only received P3.4 million from the mining company’s revenues. The company’s export value reached P7.7 billion.” The profit that was being given by the mining company should be for infrastructures and other government-funded projects but according to him the P3.4 million was not sufficient.3

Gold mining also gives work to Filipinos. But these kinds of work are very dangerous in nature. Many lives are at risk but Filipinos continue to work despite of it. We can’t argue that mining is one, if not the most, dangerous jobs in the world. Alarming as it is, child labor is also rampant in the industry. It is a very dangerous and life-threatening job yet children work for the industry. Kids left school for mining. It should not be the case since child labor is prohibited in the country. This is a serious problem that should be tackled immediately by the government. 6

Last July 6, 2012 President Benigno Aquino III released the controversial Mining E.O. 79, which is long awaited by the different sectors about the reforms of mining in the country. 8 “One of the key features of the EO is the identification of areas that will be reserved for small-scale mining. It also prohibits mining in specific, environmentally sensitive areas; agricultural lands; and areas that have been reserved for eco-tourism.” 7 The E.O. also included that it will not sign any new mining agreements, its final. In an interview by broadcaster Karen Davila of the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, expounds that, if a mining company’s contract expires, then they could no longer apply to mine again. So those are the good points of the contract. But what is really alarming is that, some of the contracts will exist for more than 20 years and beyond. Activists are concerned that in a few years time, the environment will totally deteriorate and that is the reason why I also think that we should ban mining.

The deterioration of the environment is without a doubt the worst effect of gold mining in which we should preserve for future generations. According to Sr. Stella Matutina of Panalipdan from Mindanao at the 3rd Peoples’ Mining Conference last March of this year, “massive destruction of our beautiful environment is happening because of greed for profits by a few.” 4 Whenever there is mining, be sure that land, water, air will be affected. Mining industries cannot operate without affecting the environment. 5 Land Slides, Mud Slides, Fish Kill, Food Poisoning, Mercury Rise are just some of the bad effects of Gold Mining.

Although positive impacts can be seen on the surface, there are way more negative effects that we as unified citizens of the Philippines have to worry about. The negative effects of gold mining trump all the positive effects of it. That is why I strongly believe that it is time to stop mining activities in the country.

Mining firms have not been responsibly mining therefore; many lives are at risk and continue to worsen every year. If the mining industry cannot follow the rules then I don’t think there is a reason for them to continue mining. It is our duty as a generation to hand down to the future generations an environment that we had benefited from. The government should better act now and strengthen laws and policies about gold mining. If not then, it better ban mining now or the environment will continue to deteriorate and maybe in a flash, it will vanish and soon we will be next to disappear.

Source:

1 http://www.pecc.org/resources/doc_view/1307-the-philippines-experience-can-mining-benefit-economic-growth-and-local-people

2http://lijag.blogspot.com/2010/11/philippine-gold-mining-industry-rich.html

3http://business.inquirer.net/67135/40-governors-oppose-new-aquino-mining-policy%E2%80%94salceda

4http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/03/09/%E2%80%98philippine-mining-act-cannot-be-saved-by-an-executive-order%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-environmentalists/
5http://www.slideshare.net/no2mininginpalawan/conference-on-minings-impact-on-philippine-economy-and-ecology
6http://www.ucanews.com/2012/03/26/children-labor-in-philippine-mines/
7http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/264910/economy/agricultureandmining/malaca-even-with-mining-eo-more-work-still-needs-to-be-done
8http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/07/09/12/pnoys-mining-eo-no-79

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