Mine closures: Implications beyond revenue

Home Business Industrial Security Mining & Extractive Industries Mine closures: Implications beyond revenue

Aside from the threat of losing billions in revenue, there is a possible security threat with the closure of mining firms in provinces, most especially in Mindanao.

Baguio City, Philippines – Last 18 February 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte hit the mining industry, blaming it for causing environmental problems in Mindanao.

During the annual alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy, the President said that his home region of Mindanao has been bearing the brunt of climate change’s effects, which have been aggravated by mining activities. The President has been vocal in his support to the mining crackdown by his Environment and Natural Resources Secretary-Designate, Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez. Secretary Lopez has, to date, ordered the shutdown of 23 mining companies; 75 mining contracts have been cancelled.

The President added that previous administrations purposefully pushed for policies that benefited themselves and the interests of a few. After an aerial inspection of areas affected by the Surigao City earthquake last week, President Duterte took notice that the mining industry had taken a toll in Mindanao, saying: “I’m warning those [in the] mining industry, even if they have billions, they use[d] to pay everyone to be able to corner a huge concession. That won’t happen under my administration.” This, despite the President knowing that the Philippines earns 70 billion pesos annually from the mining industry.

A probe into Secretary Lopez’s firebrand actions against mining firms has also been sought.

Aside from the threat of losing billions in revenue, there is a possible security threat with the closure of mining firms in provinces, most especially in Mindanao.

The New People’s Army (NPA) is reported to have more activities in Mindanao than any other area in the Philippines. The concentration of its troops are based in the region, with more camps situated therein. A key recruitment technique used by the rebels is the issue of employment: Unemployment due to mining firms closing in Mindanao could open up an avenue for recruitment into the ranks of the NPA.

It puts a new angle on how mining closures may affect more than just national revenue.

It’s an issue to be concerned about, especially for national security forces; it will be recalled that both the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) have withdrawn their respective unilateral ceasefire agreements. In light of this development, armed clashes are expected to happen with more frequency.

With a new channel to recruit troops, the implications of aggressive mining closures leading to unemployment could see NPA troop counts rise.

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