AS the Mining Philippines 2011 Conference and Exhibition came to a close on September 15 after three days of exhibits, networking and discussions on developments and the future of the country’s mining industry, stakeholders were upbeat that challenges and issues will be addressed soon.
Secretary Ramon JP Paje Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in his talk on “Instituting Policy Reforms in Mineral Resources Development”, stressed that the current administration under President Benigno Aquino III is “bent on fully addressing the issues confronting the Philippine Minerals industry…with the end in view of protecting mining investments.”
In his keynote address, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. likewise assured that the Aquino administration recognizes the value and potential of the mining industry as a main contributor to the Philippine economy. Mr. Ochoa said the conference was a good opportunity for legitimate mining operators and environment officials to discuss ways on how the private sector can contribute to the government’s efforts to consolidate its national policies on mining.
Mr. Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, President of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, the host of the event, said, “The Philippine minerals development industry has plenty of reasons to be upbeat these days. One reason is the unparalleled increase in metal prices in the international market – a development that augurs well not just for the industry, but, more importantly, for our country. With the Aquino Administration’s focus on attracting new investments to reduce poverty, to create more employment, and to increase revenues, we need not look far to find the solutions to our pressing economic concerns. The metal prices are drawing more investors, both local and foreign, to invest in mining in the Philippines, which, as you know, is the fifth most mineralized country in the world.”
The topics discussed during the conference participated in by local and foreign mining operators include “Industry Policy Reforms for Progress”, “Mineral Commodities Outlook”, “Exploration: The Lifeblood of Mining”, “Mining Landscape in the Philippines and SouthEast Asia” with separate discussions for copper, gold, nickel and downstream projects; and “Addressing Issues in Philippine Mining” which include topics on Indigenous Peoples, the environment, and social responsibility on the part of mining firms.
Top officials of locally listed mining companies presented updates on their respective mining projects as well as accomplishments in the area of environmental protection and corporate social responsibility.
In line with the Chamber of Mines’ goal of strengthening ties with civil society groups, also invited to speak during the conference were Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Vice-Chairman and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Philippines, who talked on “Integrating Biodiversity in the Mining Life Cycle”, and Mr. Rafael C. Lopa, Executive Director of the Philippine Business for Social Progress, who discussed “Meeting Society’s Social and Environmental Expectations: A Score Card”.
Others included Atty. Dennis Quintero, Partner, Quisumbing Torres Law Office on “The Dynamics between the IPRA and the Mining Act”, and Justice Alberto C. Agra, Professor, College of Law, Ateneo De Manila University on “Understanding the Mechanics and Defense Strategies on the Writ of Kalikasan”.
Members of the Diplomatic Corps were also among the speakers. H.E. Roberto L. Mayorga, Ambassador of Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, shared his country’s experiences in the mining industry while H.E. Liu Janchao, Ambassador of China, expressed hope that mineral trade between the Philippines and China will continuously expand in the coming years.
“The legitimate mining industry is on the verge of the biggest boom in history. To successfully implement more than $13 billion in new mining investments, we just need to implement the mining act and strictly follow its environmental regulations. We are appealing to the DENR to act faster in fulfilling its mandate of implementing these laws and help us contribute to the national economy and ensure sustained economic growth,” Mr. Romualdez said. Ayda Zoleta, PAO-DENR