It is incredible that the ongoing events of the past week in the Philippines mining sector aren’t getting much press. Given that the entire future of the industry in this important producing center now appears to be at risk.
Rising issues in the Philippines kicked off in May. When firebrand candidate Rodrigo Duterte was elected president — and proceeded to declare that he has a “big problem” with foreign mining operations in the country.
And since then, things have gotten even more worrisome for miners.
Last week, Duterte strengthened his anti-mining position, by appointing staunch environmentalist Regina Lopez as his minister of Environment and Natural Resources — the position that oversees mining and exploration activity across the country.
Like Duterte, Minister Lopez was immediately critical of mining. With her views summed up in the following text message sent to Reuters:
“Open-pit mining as in the use of explosives is horrific for the environment. It’s a cheap way to extract. And for the top most country vulnerable to climate change it’s madness to even consider it. We must stop killing our future for the interests of a few.” Related: Corruption Endemic In The Oil And Gas Industry
That’s about as strong an anti-mining stance as any government official globally has ever taken in public. And this week, that spirit spilled out onto the ground in one of the Philippines’ most important mining areas: the gold-producing center of Didipio.
Local press reported that residents of the area successfully halted drilling operations being carried out here by OceanaGold — the operators of the nearby Didipio gold mine. With the stand-down coming after locals barricaded roads in the area of drilling operations.
More tellingly, the protest was actually joined by the recently-elected governor of the region, Carlos Padilla. Who publicly vowed to help stop the exploration and development work of OceanaGold.
All of which shows that strong anti-mining sentiment seems to be permeating all levels of authority in the country. Watch for more moves coming against existing operations — with president Duterte having announced a full review of all mining projects, to check for environmental violations.
Here’s to knowing when to fold ’em,
By Dave Forest
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