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Flawed promining reasoning

12:04 AM July 06, 2016

An antimining stance is unreasonable because mining products are indispensable in our daily life. This is the line of reasoning used by proresponsible mining students (“Gina grilled on 1st day at DENR,” News, 7/2/16) and by Philex Mining Corp. (PMC) chief executive Eulalio Austin Jr. (“MVP’s Philex upbeat on mining despite Gina,” Second Front Page, 6/30/16) in the first press conference of new Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

The logic is fallacious. It is based on an erroneous presumption: Because Filipinos make use of cell phones and other gadgets with metals in them, they must continue allowing the mining of their mountains regardless of the dire consequences, otherwise they have no right to enjoy those things. The logic disregards the fact that the world is one community where goods flow from one part to the other.

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If Austin and the students had their way, they would have the people of Singapore and Hong Kong extract ore from their soil because they, too, use cell phones and metals; and since they eat, they  should allocate enough space of their tiny and cramped territories for the production of their own food. Also, since we Filipinos use jewelry, we should produce emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones regardless of how God distributed these resources to other parts of the earth.

If people in other countries allow mining, thereby contributing resources to the making of cell phones and the like, that’s their business. In the same token, when a president of a country picks a known staunch anti-mining advocate to be his environment secretary, there must be a compelling reason. “Import” is an unheard-of word to them.

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In their flimsy and smart-alecky defense of mining, Austin and the students closed their eyes to the fact that even if we stopped all mining operations in the country, cell phones and all our “metal-laden needs” would still be available in the local market. Because of self-interest, they have turned into one-track minds such that they cannot appreciate Lopez’s point that people should not suffer due to mining. They are so fanatical about mining such that they do not realize the irony and preposterousness of singing praises to the blessings of an industry that has ravaged and scarred this country for three generations already. They also refuse to acknowledge the reality that the industry is peopled by environmentally callous individuals, so that up to now only 30 percent of mining operations in the country are covered by ISO 14001 certifications.

For the education of the students, PMC, said to be the biggest gold and copper producer in the country, was held  up by the local mining industry as an exemplar of responsible mining. PMC believed the myth, so its PR people boasted it was the only local mining company with an ISO 14001 accreditation; this, they said, meant the company’s environmental management system was up to international standards and topped local laws.

But then, in August 2012, a PMC tailings pond was breached, triggering what is now known as “biggest mining disaster” in the Philippines in terms of mine wastes spilled. If that’s a model of responsible mining, how about the non-ISO 14001 firms which form 70 percent of the local mining industry?

The students should know that responsible mining is the name of something that does not exist, especially in this country.

—ESTANISLAO C. ALBANO JR., secretary, Kalinga Anti-pollution Action Group, [email protected]

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TAGS: environment, Gina Lopez, mining, philex mining corp.
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