Adhere to responsible mining principles, Cimatu tells mining sector

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed hope that the country’s mining firms will make good on their promise to bring an end to irresponsible mining practices that wreak havoc on the environment and local communities.

“We at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are banking on the commitment of these mining companies that they will adhere to responsible mining principles being espoused by the Duterte administration,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief issued the statement after representatives from 30 mining companies in the country have signed the so-called Baguio Declaration at the recently concluded First ASEAN Mineral Awards held in the country.

The Baguio Declaration is an important undertaking between the DENR and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), an organization composed of the big players in the mining industry, on the promotion of responsible mining.

It was signed by Cimatu and COMP chair Gerard Brimo during the 64th Annual Mining Safety and Environment Conference held in Baguio City last month.

Cimatu said he was quite impressed that members of the country’s premier mining group have accepted his challenge “to do better in minerals development.”

“While we have yet to see if these companies will fulfill their commitment, their decision to sign the Baguio declaration is a good gesture of their willingness to take part in a concerted effort for efficient and responsible mining,” Cimatu said.

He was also optimistic that the declaration would be a step towards improving not only the image of the mining industry, but also address growing concerns about disregard for the environment and welfare of local communities.

Under the declaration, COMP affirmed its “full and unconditional commitment to the principles of responsible minerals development in the Philippines.”

COMP agreed to prioritize the uplifting of the lives of residents of host communities through employment or livelihood opportunities while integrating social and environmental concerns with mining operations.

The group committed to considering the environment in every stage of a mining operation, including mitigation, progressive rehabilitation, third-party monitoring, and restoration of mined-out areas into land that would be viable for other uses.

It also committed to respecting the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples, especially those in whose ancestral lands and domains can be found most mineral resources, by seeking their consent and negotiating with fair and adequate terms and conditions for mining processes.

COMP likewise pledged to contribute a fair share to the national economy by remitting full and correct taxes and other dues, and optimize benefits for the people through value-added activities, as well as to adopt international standards in using efficient technologies and best mining practices in all aspects of mining operations.

For its part, the DENR promised to streamline administrative processes in evaluating and issuing mineral agreements, exercise transparency in receiving contributions from the mining industry, and encourage investments in minerals processing, among others. ###

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