MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is studying alternative ways of extracting minerals aside from the open pit method.
“The study is ongoing. We hope to finish it as soon as possible, probably in the next six months,” Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones told The STAR.
“Right now, open pit is the only method to extract minerals. But we need to look for options and possible substitutes. It may be costly, but we need an alternative,” he said.
The DENR will present to the stakeholders the results of the study once it has been completed.
There are three hanging open pit mining projects in the country that could potentially give P303 billion in national revenue and an additional P40.4 billion in local government revenue.
These projects include the Tampakan mine in South Cotabato, King-King in Compostela Valley and Silangan mine in Surigao del Norte.
The Silangan mine of Philex Mining Corp. is already looking at the possibility of shifting to underground mining, while the Tampakan project is expected to yield P142 billion in combined national and local government revenues.
Silangan, on the other hand, will give the government P140.4 billion in revenues.
King-King, on the other hand, is expected to turn in P61 billion in revenues with a capital investment of over $2 billion.
The ban on open-pit mining was first ordered by former environment chief Gina Lopez in April 2017, shortly before she got removed from her post.
In October 2017, the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) recommended the lifting of the open pit ban.
A month later, however, Duterte rejected the Council’s recommendation and ordered mining companies to shape up.
Open-pit mining remains to be an internationally accepted method for mining.