Mining Industry Struggles from Opposition

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines only managed to generate $3.8-billion Investment in mining during the last six years inclusive of the $700 million last year, well below the government forecast of $12 billion.

But despite the "meager" contribution the industry did a lot in helping the economy which, in turn, eased the country's gnawing poverty problem. In rural communities where mining is allowed to operate, townsfolk benefit from the industry's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program which create employment, improved infrastructure and build up small businesses, among others.

Nelia C. Halcon, executive vice president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP), said that responsible mining could widen the country's economic base and be able to maximize mining's "tremendous potential to reduce poverty." This was in reaction to a government report that said "mining contributes little to the economy."

The main roadblock to the mining potential remains to be the stiff opposition of ant-mining activists with the full support of the Catholic Church. Mining companies are having their hands full parrying unfounded criticisms and patiently reaching out to explain that the industry is not out to make people's lives miserable. On the contrary, they are saying that mining can in fact be a ticket to a much better life.

Philex Mining Corp. Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan had in fact severed his ties with the Ateneo de Manila University citing irreconcilable differences on mining and the Reproductive Health Bill which is also being held hostage by the Church. He explained: "(Mining) as a tool for national progress is expressed in the Mining Act. For the Church to say otherwise contradicts a very basic document of our people and frustrates the people's constitutional will, values, and preference. …