SINCE the appointment of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez by President Rodrigo Duterte, mining has become one of the most talked about issues in the country.
And as timely as it is, this will be the center of discussion in the various forums of the 63rd edition of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association or PMSEA week in the country’s Summer Capital.
During their term, the Dutertes have banned mining in Davao City, while Lopez became known as anti-mining advocate and has been involved in various face offs and squabbles with big mining companies because of her strong statements against mining.
Coming from the Aquino administration, which created an executive order stressing the need to raise government's share in mining revenues, and which imposed a moratorium on new mining contracts, would there be possible changes in this sector in the next six years?
Based on the Duterte administration's bucket list on the mining industry, the main task is to achieve responsible mining in the country during their administration.
During his campaign, President Duterte expressed support for mining industry provided companies follow "responsible" mining following the environmental standards set by countries like Australia and Canada, or else, suffer the consequences.
After being elected, the President has since reiterated his stance while Lopez on the other hand, has been quoted as saying there is no such thing as responsible mining.
And this quote "If there is responsible mining why is it that wherever there is mining, there is poverty?” she said. “The poorest sites in the country are mining areas,” Lopez said in a national broadsheet article.
Lopez reiterates the need for high standards for mining to be called responsible. "You have to have the highest standards," referring to the mining companies adherence to ISO 14001 Certification as a measure of responsible mining.
This aside from the fairness of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and a fair audit of mining companies.
PMSEA President Louie Sarmiento said the mining audit can be seen as a blessing in disguise for the industry.
Despite the risks and hazards involved, the main thing is just to do it right and to not be discouraged according to Sarmiento.
For after all, the industry is in its 63rd year of trying to achieve responsible mining and moving forward by doing it right.