An Ateneo de Naga University Stand:
After thorough discussion of the issues invoved, the students, faculty, staff and administrators of the Ateneo de Naga University support the Alternative Mining Bill (HB0026). This Bill provides for the protection of people and ecosystems from mining activities, ensures sustainability of livelihood and domestic needs, and defines clearly the terms used, preventing misinterpretation, intentional or otherwise. It also prescribes recycling and reuse of metals and other materials now considered wastes, when such can still be remolded for other uses, thereby reducing the need for mining. It further recognizes the persistent danger of acid mine drainage to the ecosystems, to croplands and fishing areas, and to human livelihood, health and survival, as well as the survival of other living organisms. With the no-go zones such as forests, vital watersheds, coral reefs, and seagrass/seaweed beds, the Bill guarantees the sustained replenishment of natural resources for the future generations of humans and other living organisms.
In contrast, the Mining Act of 1995 is skewed for the benefit of mining investors, mainly foreign. It allows approval of excessively large areas for mining, as much as 16,200 has. onshore and 40,500 has. offshore for Mineral Agreements. It also allows 81,000 has. onshore and 324,000 has. offshore for Financial and Technical Agreements, even if our country is composed of small island ecosystems with forests, surrounded by coral reefs. Mining companies are also permitted to pollute rivers and buy cheaply properties of local landowners for expansion of their operations above and below the ground. Companies are even given water rights, timber rights, easement rights, and entry into private lands and concession areas. They are also given tax incentives through which companies are not required to pay taxes until they have fully recovered from construction expenses and from losses by misfortune or mismanagement. These provisions in law leave almost nothing to the country but degraded and polluted land and water resources. Thus, they abet a culture of greed and corruption as mining companies and investors from within and outside the country venture into mining with unprecedented hunger for gold, silver, copper, nickel, manganese and other toxic heavy metals while ignoring the glaring evidence of the people’s suffering in mining areas. The result is peoples impoverished not blessed by mining; where sickness and/or early death of local laborers is certain as toxic heavy metals incapacitate even the healthiest person, and where their agricultural lands and fishing areas are so laid waste that they cannot be restored to their formerly productive state. These conditions did not reach the attention of concerned groups and pertinent government offices; they were hidden by government officials of dubious integrity and by intimidated private and government employees during past administrations in the country. Hence, the Mining Act of 1995 also resulted in a culture of helplessness among the people.
Conversely, the Alternative Mining Law is an effort to stop the abuses of mining companies of the country’s natural wealth and dependent human communities. Some important provisions are::
1. Only Filipino citizens or Filipino corporations (at least 60% of whose equity is owned and controlled by Filipinos) may mine.
2. Mineral resources in public or private lands, including timber of forestlands, as defined in existing laws, shall be closed to mining. A Council shall have the power to determine whether or not the lands where mineral resources are found shall be opened to mining.
3. The Permit to Mine shall be granted by a Multi-Sectoral Mineral Council through unanimous vote.
4. The area for mineral agreements shall not exceed a maximum of 500 hectares.
5. The term of a mining concession shall be equivalent to the mine life plus an additional 5 years for rehabilitation of the mining area. In no case shall a Mineral Agreement have a term beyond 15 years. There shall be also no extension allowed.
6. Consultation with the people shall be mandatory in each phase of the mining operation.
7. Expropriation proceedings shall be required for use of timber, water, and private land; priority use of water for domestic, municipal and agricultural purposes shall be observed; water used in mining shall be recycled; information on/full disclosure of mining methods and processes, environmental and social risks, ownership structures, and financial sources should be available/practised.
8. Mining companies shall pay all taxes and fees as required by law; Government shall receive at least 10% of gross revenues; ICCs/IPs shall receive a royalty of 10% of gross revenues.
If you agree with the AdNU position, please act now to urge passage of this alternative mining legislation