Mining’ is not a four-letter word
"This country does not have many options when it comes to ramping up GDP growth. The mining industry is one of its few options."No, “mining” is not a four-letter word – the last time I did some counting, “mining” was made up of six letters. Mining started to lose two of its letters, going from six letters to four letters, when the late Regina “Gina” Lopez - may she rest in peace - began her environmentalist campaign and targeted the mining industry as the principal despoiler of the environment. Newly elected Rodrigo Duterte, who during the [residential campaign had advocated greater protection of the environment, decided to buy into Ms. Lopez’s advocacy and appointed her as his first DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) head. The new Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources lost no time putting her all mining-is-bad philosophy into practice. During her first weeks in office, Gina Lopez cancelled the certificate of authority to operate some mining companies under suspicion and issued show-cause orders to others. Then she ordered a general audit of the entire Philippine mining industry. The mining industry knew Gina Lopez from her private-sector day; it knew what to expect from the female scion of the Lopez family. What the mining companies did not expect - and what flabbergasted the mining companies - was President Duterte’s choice of Gina Lopez to head DENR. Given her hardline views on the mining industry, the mining companies felt that Ms. Lopez’s appointment was akin to placing a wolf inside the chicken house. The Philippine mining community was stunned, and it still is stunned. To be sure, Secretary Lopez gave the seal of approval to a number of companies that have been stalwarts of the mining industry and have, over the decades, been among the darlings of the Philippine stock market - the likes of industry veterans Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. and Philex Mining Co. But she was next to heartless with other companies of lower age and less stature. Most of these companies are still under suspension or undergoing scrutiny of the MGB (Mines and Geosciences, Bureau), the DENR-component agency that directly supervises the mining industry. Today the Philippine mining industry is in a state of uncertainty as it awaits the results of the second of the two industry audits ordered by Gina Lopez and, subsequently, by her successor as Secretary, Roy Cimatu.
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