SORSOGON CITY: Mining companies have found an ally in Sen Francis Escudero as he made a stand favoring the continued operation of responsible mining corporations.
In a round-table discussion with local media here Escudero said that imposing a mining ban is wrong and unreasonable especially if it gives benefits to the community and does not harm the environment.
“If it’s legal, safe to environment and brings benefits to the community, why should we stop them,” he said, adding that only those classified as small-scale mining operations are the ones causing troubles especially to the environment and the community.
|Chiz Escudero ... a friend of good miners|
Escudero, however, said that the government should do something to put the mining industry in proper order and to maximize the benefits that could be derived from it.
He suggested the imposition of a levy similar to the coconut levy to make it expensive to export the raw materials generated from mining which would compel mining companies to process and manufacture them here.
“That would generate more jobs and put additional value to the raw materials,” Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on Environment, said.
The solon stressed that current sharing of 2% for government and 98% for the mining company is grossly lopsided saying that China had offered a 60-40 sharing scheme in favor of the government for the exploration of resources at the Scarborough Shoal during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but which was rejected.
He also suggested that the government should come up with mineral map of the country and determine the areas which are open to mining and set aside areas for future generation.
“We should leave something for the generations to come and not allow indiscriminate mining,” Escudero added.
He urged Malacañang to speed up the issuance of the mining policy to harmonize everything, adding that the delay has caused the non-issuance of any mining license for the past two years.
Asked to comment about the possible extension of the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, the senator said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should look into its operation.
Escudero said large scale mining is less problematic since they are effectively regulated by the DENR unlike small scale operations.
He said the DENR would not allow its continued operation if it has violations and is not beneficial to the community.
The Rapu-Rapu mine is projected to last until end of 2013, unless the actual mineral deposits exceed more than what was earlier estimated during the exploration, the president of the Rapu-Rapu Minerals Incorporated (RRMI) told reporters in an earlier interview.
Eng’r. Rogelio Corpuz said that the company would continue operation as long as the deposits are there and funds are available to sustain commercial operation.
The operation is highly dependent on the presence of the minerals as well as on prices of these minerals in the international market, he said, as he expressed concern for the communities which would be affected by the mine closure.
“Obviously, a big majority of the families in the community have become dependent on the mine for their source of livelihood, and we don’t want them to be economically displaced once the mine operation closes down, so sustainable livelihood programs must be introduced through the Social Development and Management Plan,” he explained.
‘‘If only we can continue operation endlessly so that the people would continue to have a steady source of income, we will do it,’’ he said.
Corpuz assured the stakeholders that the company has the best interest of the community in mind in all of its programs. - By Media Solutions/BicolMail