Business groups call for repeal of mining ordinance PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 January 2012 17:12

Local business groups have called on the provincial government of Zamboanga del Norte to repeal an ordinance which bans open-pit mining, citing that conflicting policies will discourage investments and the mining operations’ impact on the environment can be mitigated.

“We call on our respected members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to heed the call of the citizenry, especially those who will be affected by the implementation of the provisions of the ordinance banning open-pit mining operations, and reconsider their approval of the provincial ordinance,” officials from three business groups said in a joint statement.

Dipolog Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Michael M. Malacca, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Western Mindanao regional governor Edgar M. Bagarinao, and PCCI Mindanao area vice-president Edwin B. Capili said in the statement dated Dec. 15 that the ordinance contradicts national mining policy or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

“The imposition of inconsistent policies and rules is never good for business as it provides a very unstable ground for business growth. Such volatility will scare away investors from our country,” the groups further said.

They noted that while mining is an extractive industry with impacts on the environment, such effects can be mitigated.

The Philippine Mining Act, the groups said, has prescribed keys to mitigate the impacts of mining operations on the environment such as the requirement of at least 3% of mining and milling cost to be used for environmental expenses as well as the setting up of a mine rehabilitation fund to ensure there will be enough resources to rehabilitate the disturbed areas.

With a national mining policy in place, Mr. Capili said local government units (LGUs) should not be allowed to pass regulations which contradict national law.

“We think that what should be followed is the Mining Act,” he added.

The groups also said that as many people in Mindanao have suffered from poverty and lack of opportunities, and with the region considered to be the richest in mineral reserves in the country, LGUs should allow responsible mining operations to provide jobs, education and social services.

“It is a blessing that Zamboanga del Norte is literally sitting on rich mineral resources. We urge our local governments to use this opportunity to better the lives of our people by allowing responsible mining operations to continue in our province,” the groups said.

In a separate statement yesterday, TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (TVIRD) president Eugene T. Mateo said the firm welcomes the statement for he claimed it shows the ordinance lacks the support of the residents and the business community.

“The Zamboanga del Norte government should realize by now that there is a groundswell of support against the ordinance and the next best thing to do is to repeal this invalid and unconstitional legislation,” he said.

The ordinance mandates TVIRD to halt its operations at the Canatuan copper mine by next year. TVIRD is looking to extend the life of the Canatuan mine by four years from next year. The mine has a remaining life of two years.

TVIRD filed a case in a Dipolog City court for a temporary restraining order against the ordinance last month. The local government of Dipolog City said earlier it is mulling legal action to stop the implementation of the ordinance for it may affect its ongoing extraction of sand and gravel in the province.

The planned $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project being pursued by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in South Cotabato is also being threatened by a similar ordinance.