A new study by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) found the need for a new mining law that will regulate the management of strategic minerals needed for the country’s transition to renewable energy.
“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. The bill is anchored in the climate justice discourse and rationalizes mining under a national industrialization framework, where only strategic minerals will be mined,” said Maya Quirino, Advocacy Coordinator of LRC.
The research paper, entitled ‘Toward a Just Minerals Transition in the Philippines’, noted that the Philippines currently produces chromium, cobalt, copper, nickel, and silver, minerals necessary for the production of renewable energy technology.
In 2020, the Philippines was the second biggest producer of nickel in the world at 14% of 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% of all mineral reserves and 49% 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 cases of environmental defender killings.
“An emblematic case is the Tampakan Gold-Copper Project, which has been mired in allegations of human rights violations since its inception years ago, including 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,” Quirino said.
The Tampakan mine is presently all but ready to operate, save for a local environmental ordinance provision banning open-pit mining, which 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, where minerals production is based on 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.
“A 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,” ended Quirino.