Anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is urging the government to replace Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 with a law that is “pro-Filipino and pro-environment.
The group said the existing law has paved the way for plunder of the country’s mineral wealth, as well as mining-related environmental destruction.
According to ATM national coordinator Jaybee Gerganera, these are on top of adverse health impacts, displacement of people and human rights abuses across the country.
“Our country didn’t benefit from RA 7942,” he said at a news conference in Manila to mark the Philippine Mining Act’s 23rd year.
The ATM has been pushing for the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) as RA 7942’s replacement.
“Mining is about the country’s benefits from its minerals,” Gerganera said.
He cited rational management of minerals nationwide that the AMMB would bring to the country.
In calling for RA 7942’s repeal, the ATM also cited several mining-related disasters in the country over the years.
“Marcopper Mining Corporation [in]Marinduque stopped operations in 1996 due to tailings spill and is considered the poster child for one of the worst mining disasters in the world — two rivers declared biologically dead and acid mine water ranging from pH2 to pH3,” the group said.
Marcopper was then co-owned by a Canadian firm that had operated in the Philippines for over 30 years.
The ATM said another mining firm, the Palawan Quicksilver Mine Inc. in Palawan province, has allegedly subjected residents to constant exposure to mine tailings.
The group added that water in Dizon Copper-Silver Mines Inc.’s abandoned pit in Zambales is “highly acidic with a pH level of 2, while the neutral level is pH 7.”
“Manila Mining Corporation [in]Surigao del Norte had a tailings spill incident in September 1995” and “in 1999 released 700,000 tons of tailings that buried 17 homes and 40 hectares of land, including 20 hectares of agricultural land,” it said.
The ATM is a coalition of organizations and groups that aim to challenge aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.
The alliance further aspires to shift the policy framework on extracting minerals in the Philippines from simply “extracting and profiting from mining minerals” to “mineral management toward national industrialization.”