Sustainability has been a huge controversy when it comes to mining. Sustainability has always been a key consideration in the mining industry and will continue to shape activity today and beyond. (MiningGlobal.com, 2017) Mining is essential to the modernity of life, with minerals and supplies mined around the world having a major role wherein productions and trades function. As in any industry that provides integrated products and services, attention is sited on its processes and their effect on both economic and environmental approaches.
The striking increase in mining activity naturally put tension resources and questions surfaced about sustainable mining. The fact that it is long regulated that sustainable practices are an important consideration in mining.
A global report was carried out regarding the challenges and conflicts affecting sustainability in mining. It was found that the increasing demand for mined sources stays as a major concern, as well as resource consumption like energy and water which are required for the extraction processes.
Some of the cases under this report are commodity market imbalances: strategies for managing volatility. Strong commodity increases prices which in return compel mining companies to enhance production. However, when prices drop, supplies build up and marginal projects get neglected and less attractive. So, mining companies cannot precisely predict commodity demand or price changes. The other key issues facing the mining industry is sliding productivity and spiraling costs. Increasing pollution due to the extraction process must also take into context, with these principles applied to multinational corporates and even smaller operations.
Sustainability of extraction processes greatly depends on the industry, but setting the techniques and processes aside, the operation is yet still associated with negative effects on environmental and social in some markets.
The challenge for the sector to strengthen its relationship with the locals and braces the importance of mining to revenue and employment in a lot of nations, some of the developing countries. The non-renewable nature of mining resources is also in conflict with sustainability it furtherly demonstrates how vital the competent use of resources for development remains.
The Philex Mining Corporation in the Philippines stated, “staying true to its role as a government partner in the ‘right and principled’ way of mining.” Although illegal mining is very rampant in the Philippines, the sector has fallen quite short of its goal. Destruction of the environment penetrates all states and it is the duty of the government to ensure that all possible negative effects are accounted for – environmental and economical. Despite the consecutive warning and closure of minefields, the corporations haven’t yet lessened the impact.
The Philex Mining Corp.’s vision is “to be a highly respected world-class natural resource company committed to adhere to international standards in mining operations and environmental conservation and deliver excellent value to our partner communities, investors, employees, and other stakeholders.” (PHILEX MINING CORPORATION, 2017 VISION) Believing that they lived up to bring excellent value to its stakeholders and that they’re fitting in supporting the action of the government towards illegal mining in the country. And saying keeping up to their mission that “We are responsible mining corporation that discovers and processes minerals and energy resources for the use of the society.” (PHILEX MINING CORPORATION, 2017 MISSION) Implying that despite the negative impact to the environment they will still provide noticeable measurements using the natural resources in able for the society to use. However, the mining corporation spills the ‘biggest-mining disaster’ in the Philippines, surpassing Marcopper.
On March 4, 1996, the drainage tunnels of Marcopper Mining Corporation’s open pit broke and leaked millions of tons of mine waste that trapped the Boac River in Marinduque, burying villages and destroying marine life. Despite, renewing the company’s license in agreeing to stop throwing their mine tailing into the river. So, they used their old open pit dams as their dam. But as time passes the dam got filled with tailing and the pressure caused a seepage on the mine waste and later happened. Just like the Marcopper, Philex made the same mistake but far greater, spilling some 20 million metric tons of sediments into the water channels in Itogon, Benguet. (Rouchelle R. Dinglasan, GMA News, 2012) The impacts of this disaster on the environment are visible through air pollution, biodiversity loss, floods, food insecurity, soil contamination, and many more. On health, it brought malnutrition, mental problems, occupational disease, exposure to unknown complex risks like radiation, and a lot more.
Mining Corporations ignore the environment until a noticeable impact is visible. With this disaster, the Philex Mining Corporation has taken to its account to be responsible as a conscientious mining company that lives up to its mission and vision. The company initialized to blasting its entrance holes which lead to underground tunnels of illegal-small scale mining. To show support to their ‘sustainable mining’ approach they had formed a task force to regulate illegal mining in Benguet.
In able for the Philippines to practice sustainable mining, some key features must be observed. Address the environment, health, economic and social benefits, and impacts of mining through the entire lifecycle. Recently the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is studying alternative ways of extracting minerals aside from pit mining. (Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star), February 8, 2019) According to the news, there are at least three hanging open-pit mining in the Philippines that could potentially give P303 billion in the national revenue and P40.4 billion for the local revenue. This alternative way includes better options and possible substitutes that are costly but alternative. About 30 million hectares of land areas in the Philippines are deemed as possible areas for metallic minerals. About 9 million hectares of land areas are identified as having high mineral potential, according to MGB. (Rappler.com, 2012) Mining companies fixed a total of P19.9 billion for the implementation of approved projects for their environmental protection and enhancement programs. Another way to stop environmental degradation is by enhancing the participation of the stakeholders and minimizing the use of water and reducing energy consumption.