The country’s big mining lobby on Monday stressed the mineral development sector’s crucial role in the Duterte administration’s thrust to revitalize the country’s steel industry.
Artemio Disini, chairperson of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said mining industry figures in the Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investments Iron and Steel Road Map from 2015 to 2030 show that
“there is an increased demand for products and services from the metals industry especially in human resource capital development (science and technology sectors), revitalization of the manufacturing industries; and leveling up of annual public spending on infrastructures at five percent Gross Domestic Product or greater.”
In his report before participants at the recently held Japan Oil, Metal and Gas Corporation (JOGMEC) seminar on sustainable development of mineral resources in the Philippines, Disini pointed out that the Philippines ranks 5th next to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in terms of steel production.
This as he enumerated key strategies to revive the steel industry, among the: strengthening national policy instruments to develop the minerals and steel industries in the country; revitalizing the existing assets of the National Steel Corporation in Iligan City; implementing the integration of the NSC facility to consider use of indigenous materials; and fostering research and investments in downstream processing and value-adding industries.
In August 2016, Suarez City Mayor Celso Regencia signed Executive Order 17 series of 2016, “An order reconstituting the National Steel Corporation Working Group on the 25th of July 2016, to address the clamor of Iliganons for the reopening, rehabilitation, operation and integration of the plant.”
Meanwhile, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) assistant director Danilo Uykieng said during the same forum that the government will focus on key areas to ensure a long-term and stable policy for the steel industry in the country.
These five areas are minerals and metal-led industrialization initiatives; streamlining of application and procedures; MGB-led inter-agency coordination of regulatory agencies in mining projects; strong community relations programs; and final land use options of mineral lands.
Uykieng also said that value-adding activities for downstream processing of mineral resources is a must.
“This shall be accomplished by ensuring continued supply of materials and commodities, revisiting regulatory and compliance policies, and conducting inventory and exploration studies of the various mineral resources,” he added.
The DENR exec also stressed the need to simplify and rationalize documentary requirements, systems and signatories, and processing time and cost.
Uykieng assured that the MGB will closely coordinate with the Environmental Management Bureau, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, local government units and other relevant line agencies in approving mining projects.
“The government [will]also work hand in hand with community relations practitioners in achieving government’s and the industry’s common objectives on responsible mining and community development. Host communities should be engaged every step of the way towards responsible mining,” Uykieng said.
This thrust is in line with DENR’s commitment to consult with the local government units, the communities and other stakeholders the final land use options of mineral lands.
“The utilization of these God-given mineral resources should only be allowed when the proposed mining operation is technically feasible, environmentally compliant, socially acceptable and financially viable. [When] any of these imperatives is absent, it is not time to mine,” Uykieng said.