April 25, 2012
Legarda Calls for Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Mining Practices
Senator Loren Legarda called for the sustainable and responsible development of the country's mineral resources and stressed that the effects of climate change should be considered in mining activities.
Legarda, who is keynote speaker at the mining conference organized by the Association of Law Students of the Philippines at the Ateneo de Davao University, said that while the regulation of the mining industry and enforcement of mining policies remain a great challenge to the government, there is another emerging concern--the mining activities' propensity to exacerbate the impacts of climate change.
"The design of mining infrastructure based on weather information prior to the projections of climate change may cause disasters of greater magnitude when extreme weather events occur," she pointed out.
She explained that intense rainfall could trigger massive erosion especially in areas already prone to landslides as what happened in a small-scale mining community in Pantukan, Compostela Valley. Landslides triggered by incessant rains occurred in the said community in April 2011 and earlier this year, killing no less than 50 individuals.
Legarda noted that a geo-hazard map of Pantukan revealed that its topography and geological features make it vulnerable to landslides, among other hazards. Despite a "no habitation policy" ordered in areas identified as landslide-prone, small-scale miners opted to stay in the mining sites.
"These instances reveal the need to strictly regulate the mining sector, from small-scale to large-scale operations. As espoused by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippine Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation, the government must delineate areas suitable for mineral resources development based on scientific information on climate change risks and vulnerability of ecosystems and communities," the Senator explained.
"Community-based management programs of mineralized and mining areas must be reviewed to ensure direct participation of host and climate-vulnerable communities in decision-making. Current and future mining operations and infrastructure must be climate-proof and a communication plan on hazards related to mining and climate change must be implemented," she added.
Among the other concerns she raised include the practice of responsible mining especially the mining companies' commitment to implement environmental protection programs and social development initiatives that would ensure the progress of host and neighboring communities.
Legarda also stressed that the government should get fair share from mining activities by private companies thru royalties, and that the rights of indigenous peoples, especially over their ancestral domain, must be respected.
"Every decision we will make is crucial, it can either build better lives for our people and contribute to national development or cause the destruction of the communities, our environment, and the very lives the State aims to protect. We must aim for sustainable and responsible development of the country's mineral resources and the protection of our people's means of life and progress," Legarda concluded.
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