Davao bizmen push responsible mining to optimize resources-A A +A
Saturday, July 14, 2012
DEBATES over mining across the country, particularly in mineral-rich Mindanao, may still rage among stakeholders, but businessmen in Davao City remain upbeat over the industry, saying responsible practices should minimize risks and help promote growth across impoverished communities.
Businessman Philip Dizon said in an interview that while mining is extractive, its "effects on the environment will be minimized" if it is done responsibly.
Dizon's companies are involved mainly in tourism and property development.
He cited the illegal, small-scale mining as an example where operators mostly ignore safety and environmental standards.
Having been an operator himself in the early 1980s, Dizon described the crude processing of gold which combines mercury, a highly-toxic substance.
He said the environment is threatened when the mercury is washed from the gold and runs along the water, or when the gold is tested in fire and the mercury contaminates the air and settles back into the population.
He admitted that the term "responsible mining" is becoming common, but that he has yet to truly witness it. "I only see Compostela Valley and Diwalwal," he said, referring to two areas notorious for small-scale mining.
To assure that companies practice responsible mining, Dizon said there should be an independent agency like the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) to certify big firms and their projects.
He said high standards are necessary in order to optimize the benefits of an industry "that generates employment and gives livelihood for the burgeoning population."
"The Philippines is one of the countries that have high volumes of chromite, copper, gold, and iron. I believe that it is given to us for people to utilize them," he added.
For her part, career development prime-mover Joji Ilagan-Bian also backed up responsible mining, saying it perks up the economy.
Bian said the problem in the Philippines is that government regulating bodies lack the political will to ensure proper implementation of mining practices.
"There are too many conflicting issues now that need to be addressed," she said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 14, 2012.