MANILA, Philippines — Anti-big-scale mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is urging the government to replace Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 with a law that is “pro-Filipino and pro-environment”.
ATM claimed the present law has paved the way for plunder of the country’s mineral wealth, as well as mining-related environmental destruction.
These are on top of adverse health impacts, displacement of people, and human rights abuses across the country, according to ATM national coordinator Jaybee Gerganera.
“Our country didn’t benefit from RA 7942,” he said Monday (March 5) at the press conference ATM held in Metro Manila to mark the Philippine Mining Act’s 23rd year.
ATM has been pushing instead for the alternative minerals management bill (AMMB) as RA 7942’s replacement.
“That bill is an attempt to change the country’s mining policy,” said Garganera, noting such change has been long overdue, as mining should not be all about miners’ profit.
“Mining is also about the country’s benefits from its minerals,” he said.Garganera cited rational management of minerals nationwide as among the benefits of enacting its proposed AMMB.
AMMB promotes multi-sectoral consultations to reach consensus on which areas in the country would be open to mining, he explained.
He pointed out AMMB also requires higher royalties and other payments from mining.
In calling for RA 7942’s repeal, ATM cited several mining-related disasters in the country over the years.
“Marcopper Mining Corporation (in) Marinduque stopped operation in 1996 due to tailing spill and is considered the poster child for one of the worst mining disasters in the world — two rivers declared biologically dead and acid mine water ranging from pH2 to pH3,” the advocacy group recalled. Marcopper was then co-owned by a Canadian firm that had operated in the Philippines for over 30 years.
More recently, it pointed out, another mining firm, the Palawan Quicksilver Mine Inc. in Palawan province, had caused mercury poisoning in about 70 percent of people in Puerto Princesa City from constant exposure to mine tailings and ingestion of marine products contaminated with poisonous methylmercury.
Also, the group added, water in Dizon Copper-Silver Mines Inc.’s abandoned pit in Zambales is “highly acidic with a pH level of 2, while the neutral level is pH 7”. Such situation, it said, already threatens Mapanuepe Lake and the community around it, specifically, Barangay Bunawen.
“Manila Mining Corporation, Surigao del Norte had a tailing spill incident in September 1995” and in 1999 released 700,000 tons of tailings that buried 17 homes and 40 hectares of land, including 20 hectares of agricultural land, it added. –Catherine Teves/PNA
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