Is mining good or bad? Gov't, green group take opposite sides

Is mining good or bad? Gov’t, green group take opposite sides

/ 02:21 PM January 13, 2024

The government and environmental groups have differing opinion on the advantage and disadvantages of mining

FILE PHOTO: Mining activities have drastically changed the landscape of the historic Homonhon Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, as shown in this photo taken in August 2023. Photo from FR. JAMES ABELLA/CONTRIBUTOR

TACLOBAN CITY — The national government earned P182.62 million in excise tax from mining operators last year on top of taxes imposed by the local government.

However, for environmental groups, no amount of money could compensate for damages caused by mining operations on the environment.


According to Glen Noble, regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Eastern Visayas (MGB-8), mining companies paid P172.84 million in excise taxes for the 8.22 million nickel ore wet metric tons (WMT) shipped to China in 2023.


He added that P9.77 million in excise tax was also paid last year for the 25,900 WMT chromite concentrate that was likewise shipped to China.

Noble pointed out that the P182.62 million excise tax was for the national government’s share alone as the local government also received additional income from mining in terms of business permits, real property tax, income tax, and other local fees.

READ: Mining firms in Homonhon told to pay realty taxes

But for Daipen Montes, board of directors of the Homonhon Environmental Advocates and Rights Defender Inc., no amount of money could pay for the damage done by the mining activities to the island’s environment.

“The damage and destructions mining have brought to the island is irreplaceable,” she told the Inquirer.

“The ill-effects are glaring like dust pollution and the high cases of respiratory illnesses. Our water has turned red. Our rice fields have been mined and our water sources are now depleted,” said Montes.


Montes appealed for the total stoppage of mining operations on the island – a move backed by the Catholic Church.

At present, four mining companies are operating on Homonhon Island: Emir Mineral Resources Corp., Chromite King, Inc., Nickelace Inc., and Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp.

These companies, all of which are extracting nickel and chromite deposits, have a combined work force of 1,549 who are mostly local residents.

READ: Study mining impact on Homonhon – bishop

In August 2023, church and local residents held a rally to demand the closure of mining operations in Homonhon, citing the destructions done on the environment.

Noble said he was aware of the Church-backed opposition by local residents against mining operations in Homonhon, an island of about 300 hectares where the group of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed in 1521.

He said he was willing to meet with local Church officials and possibly find ways for them to understand that mining operations were not at all bad.

“In mining projects, there are always two groups. One group supports mining while the other group opposes it,” Noble said.

“That is their advocacy while we in MGB are for responsible mining. Mining is a development option which gives opportunities like taxation, government revenue, and employment for the people and even social development which is required for mining operations,” he added.

According to Noble, only the mining sector makes social development programs mandatory and not just a mere “corporate social responsibility” as being practiced by other companies.

“The social development program of the mining companies is roughly one percent of their operation costs. It is ingrained in our laws,” he said.

As the government’s main regulator on mining operations, Noble assured that the MGB has been constantly monitoring the activities on the island, home to more than 4,000 people spread on its eight barangays.

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Based on their monitoring, he said they have not noticed any grave abuse of the environment committed by any of the mining operators.

TAGS: Leyte, Mining

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