Aussie trade exec keen on collaborating with gov’t on mining
DAVAO CITY (Philippines News Agency) — An Australian trade official is keen on Mindanao’s mining sector if there are opportunities for engagement on sustainable-friendly practices, now that the Duterte administration has given a strong stance against illegal mining practices.
However, Senior Australian Trade Commission Elodie Journet said the stricter policies of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on mining operations cast doubts on Australian players in coming to the Philippines.
These policies, Journet said, have raised questions whether or not mining is still welcome in the Philippines.
“There are now question marks whether mining is welcome in the Philippines. Certainly it is important to send signal for international sustainable players come into the Philippines,” Journet said.
The past weeks saw DENR Secretary Gina Lopez drawing the ire of mining operators following the cancellation of 75 mining contracts throughout the country in an intensified campaign to stop extraction of resources in sensitive areas.
The cancelled contracts, which cover projects that are still in the exploration stage or are not yet in production, are all located in watershed zones.
According to reports, the cancelled contracts included the USD5.9-billion Tampakan gold and copper project in South Cotabato, potentially the country’s biggest foreign investment and believed to be one of the largest gold prospects in the world.
Also affected by the cancellation order was the USD1.2-billion copper-gold project of Philex Mining Corp., one of the country’s biggest miners, in Mindanao.
Lopez said that she had to order the cancellation of the MPSAs because they could endanger the water supply.
The DENR chief had also ordered the closure of 23 of the country’s 41 mineral mines while five other mines were suspended following months of audit of the mines.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been emphasizing responsible mining. Mining companies have urged to do it right. “If you cannot do it right, then get out of mining,” the President earlier said.
Duterte has been citing the standards of responsible mining as practiced in developed countries such as Canada and Australia, to ensure the protection of the environment,” he said.
But given this, Journet said they are open to collaboration with government and private investors to sharing best mining practices.
In fact, they are even willing to do this along with agriculture, she said.
“Mining and agriculture can co-exist in the same area,” said Journet, who was in town for the launch of Australia in Davao on Monday. Journet was among the Austrade (Australian Trade and Investment Commission) team to present on trade and investment.
In an interview after her presentation at the launch with officers of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCII), Journet said they would always welcome opportunities to share or collaborate with government and private industries on Australia’s best mining practices and achieve sustainable mining and environment-friendly mining.
“We want to collaborate because we do think it can be done, proven it can be done. And we feel with great technology, services but also regulatory requirements,” she said.
Journet said this offer is there and they are looking into opportunities of sharing Australia’s experience on sustainable mining. She said they always believe that mining and sustainability can go together.
“We agree with the stance that it has to be sustainable, but we think there is a possibility to have both mining and sustainability together,” Journet said.(PNA)