Letter to the Editor | Responsible Mining? We do not think so.

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Last July 5, 2022, the Daily Tribune published an article written by Mr. Elmer Navarro Manuel on the mine tour organized for the “33-strong delegation” representing Barangay Local Government Units from the Municipality of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The article said that tour covered the mine sites of Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) in Surigao del Norte and Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC) in the Dinagat Islands – both are subsidiaries of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC), and that the purpose of the tour is to showcase how responsible mining is practiced by the abovementioned mining corporations.

Specific to the Daily Tribune article, may we raise the following:

· Responsible mining is a myth. This mythical concept does not have a legal basis and standard of operations here in the Philippines. There are no provisions in the Philippine Mining Act – the law that governs this economic activity – which defines what is responsible mining. This means, anyone can claim to have been practicing responsible mining. There is no standard operating procedure set by the government, particularly the DENR, that defines what is and what is not “responsible mining”.

· One of the features showcased during the mine site tours were the use of technology by Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) and Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC) – water chambers that goes through siltation ponds, and silt booms or silt curtains that are located at extract discharge points used to trap sediments which intends to reduce water siltation. These technologies lose their effectiveness overtime in the case of the siltation pond, their purpose is as a temporary sediment control, their effectiveness is dependent on proper placement, maintenance, installation, and the type of waterbody in the case of the silt booms. Note that Manicani island, Homonhon Island, and the entire Municipality of Guiuan was once ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda, and this can happen again given that the Municipality of Guiuan is right in the path of tropical cyclones (as they fall under the Type II climate of the modified Coronas classification system).

· Philippines has committed itself to cutting 30% of its carbon emission by 2030 as its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). By opening up new mining projects or re-opening an old mine site such as Hinatuan Mining Corporation’s Nickel Mining Project in Manicani Island will only contribute to an increase in our Green House Gas emissions that can further exacerbate the rising global temperature, and contribute to the increase in weather events that will affect mining operations in terms of decreased availability of water, increase in energy use, an increase in sea level rise  because of melting polar ice caps, and therefore may pose a risk to the transportation of mine ore.

· Manicani Island as well as the Municipality of Guiuan is part of the Guiuan Marine Resource Protected Landscape and Seascape by virtue of Proclamation No. 469, s. 1994, and a protected area through the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 (NIPAS) and Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018 (ENIPAS). Both laws state that mining (mineral locating/exploration, and extraction) is prohibited.

· Manicani Island, as part of the Philippine protected area system is home to the Brahminy Kite, Philippine Eagle-owl, Colasisi, and Grass Owl which are included in the CITES appendix II. The Philippine Mallard and the Philippine Eagle-Owl can also be found in Manicani Island, Guiuan and are considered as Vulnerable (VU) under the IUCN red list category and DENR DAO 2004-15.

· There is an on-going and still unresolved Continuing Mandamus case filed involving Department of Environment and Natural Resources during the time of then Sec. Ramon Paje.

· We understand why some local residents favor mining in Manicani Island, and in some areas of the Municipality of Guiuan – it is a reflection of a deep chronic problem of joblessness and lack of opportunities supposedly their Provincial and Municipal Local Government Units have provided long ago.

In the context of the climate crisis that we now face, business or corporations need to reconsider their business activities that impact heavily on the environment. Massive extraction and use of our natural resources are untenable. An extractivist economy for money, profit and revenues cannot be the primary driver for a sustainable future. Our current human and environmental realities – of massive poverty and colossal environmental degradation are proofs of this.  

1. https://marcventuresholdings.com/silt_boom_the_dependable_silt_trap
2. https://fabphils.com/silt-curtain
3. From the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. “ Post Disaster Needs and Capacities Assessment Homonhon and Manicani Island (Guiuan, Eastern Samar): This climate type is characterized by the absence of a dry season and a very pronounced maximum wet period from November to January – typical along or very near the eastern margin of the Philippines. The latitudinal location of the project site frequently puts Guiuan mainland and its island barangays in the path of tropical cyclones.

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