This week’s mining conference, touted as the largest mining event in the country, will likely again highlight the industry’s claims of economic contribution to justify intensifying mining operations in the country, said research group IBON.
The Mining Philippines 2012 Conference, themed “Shaping the Future of Philippine Mining”, will reportedly focus on social responsibility and the industry’s priorities to contribute to ‘sustained development’.
IBON, however, stressed that the contribution of the mining industry to the economy is very minuscule and that mining only benefits large mining firms. In fact among the sub-industries in the country, mining and quarrying accounts for the smallest share and is actually contributing the second smallest in the entire economy after the forestry sector, said the group. The gross-value added (GVA) of the mining industry, which government itself measures, registered an average of 1% in 2000-2011 at current prices-- it peaked in 2007 at only 1.63 percent. IBON added that while the GVA in mining in absolute terms has been increasing on average albeit in a slow pace, the share of mining’s GVA to the gross domestic product (GDP) is actually decreasing on average after peaking in the 1970s.
Also, in contrast to the claims of the Chamber of Mines that large-scale, corporate-led metallic mining is contributing more to the domestic economy, a close look at government data would reveal that more than 50% of the GVA in mining and quarrying is contributed by other sub-sectors such as crude oil, natural gas and condensate, stone quarrying, clay and sandpits and other non-metallic mining. In 2011, GVA in mining and quarrying totaled Php143,027 million of which 53% is accounted for by the combined GVA of crude oil, natural gas and condensate, stone quarrying, clay and sandpits and other non-metallic mining, greater than the share of copper, gold, nickel and other metallic mining.
Other contributions that the mining industry claims are the Social Development and Management Programs (SDMP) projects in mining-affected communities, which do not usually reflect the communities’ primary need and are implemented as mechanism for social acceptance. Environmental projects such as Environmental Protection and Management Program, otherwise called EPEP and under a banner of so-called corporate social responsibility are also magnified to create an illusion of added socioeconomic gains. Mangrove reforestation for example in an area in Surigao del Norte where the original mangrove forest was destroyed by the mining operation itself is now being presented as a sign of good housekeeping.
The contribution of mining to jobs generation is also being hailed by the industry as one of the sector’s main contributions. Government, however, is including the informal sector like sari-sari stores in mining communities as part of jobs generated. At any rate, employment in mining and quarrying is less than 1% of the country’s total employment. In 2001-2011, mining and quarrying’s contribution to employment averaged at merely 0.57 percent. Even if employment in mining and quarrying nominally increased by 103% in 2001-2011, it is barely enough to offset the increase in the labor force, the group noted.
The mining industry claims that the initial environmental and social destruction caused by mining operations are compensated by the industry’s contribution to the economy. Many of these claims, however, are found to be exaggerated and not truly reflecting how much the government has also waived, in terms of economic sovereignty and fiscal gains just to lure mining firms to invest in the Philippines. On the other hand, mining pseudo-benefits are played up but these do not make up for the widespread plunder of the country’s resources. (end)