THERE’S a need for a new mining law that will regulate the management of strategic minerals needed for the country’s transition to renewable energy (RE).
“Congress should pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), which proposes a transformation of the present minerals regime by balancing the need for minerals with environmental, social, and economic considerations,” Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRNRC) Advocacy Coordinator Maya Quirino said, citing a recent study by the group. “The bill is anchored in the climate justice discourse and rationalizes mining under a national industrialization framework, where only strategic minerals will be mined.”
Titled “Toward a Just Minerals Transition in the Philippines,” the non-government group’s research paper noted that the Philippines currently produces chromium, cobalt, copper, nickel, and silver—minerals necessary for the production of RE technology.
In 2020, the Philippines was the second biggest producer of nickel in the world at 14 percent of the total supply. It is also the world’s fourth-largest copper and cobalt reserve.
The study notes, however, that the current mining policy regime has resulted in 60 percent of all mineral reserves and 49 percent of all mining projects being in conflict with ancestral domains. It also cited various reports where the extractives sector was linked to a third up to half of the cases of environmental defender killings.
Quirino cited the case of the Tampakan Gold-Copper Project that, she said, “has been mired in allegations of human rights violations since its inception years ago.”
She cited the killing of then-pregnant indigenous Lumad mother Juvy Capion and her two sons in a purported military operation against Daguil Capion, Juvy’s husband.
The Tampakan mine is presently all but ready to operate, Quirino said, save for a local environmental ordinance provision banning open-pit mining. That provision had been previously lifted by the provincial council but eventually vetoed by the governor.
The paper expounded on the need for a policy framework on “Just Minerals Transition.” The framework sees minerals production as based on the following: the need for social wellbeing and within ecological limits; governance of minerals is democratized where affected communities ultimately decide; circularity of minerals through recycling is baked in; and, due diligence mechanisms for holding mineral sources accountable are in place.
Quirino said that the group believes the “Just Minerals Transition” is well within the framework and can be adopted by the AMMB.
“It can also be integrated in current policy blueprints such as the Philippine Development Plan and the sunset review of the Renewable Energy Act,” she said.