Sunday, 9 September 2007

PGMA to mining firms: Income from mines must trickle down to host communities

Original report at Gov.Ph News

SYDNEY-- - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Saturday that the economic progress derived from mining activities must trickle down to the host communities.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said this was the advice of the President to Australian mining giant BHP Biliton and other mining firms operating in the Philippines.

Mining enterprises must “engage the local community more” to avoid problems in their areas of operation, specifically with local groups,” the President said during her meeting with BHP Biliton chief executive officer (CEO) Chip Goodyear at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney.

The President also said mining concerns must “settle their problems with their partners.”

“We welcome mining investments. We welcome mining firms that give due concern to the environment and to the community,” Atienza quoted the President as saying.

“I think the Australian issue is not much about the environment. It’s really more of the community,” the President said, according to Atienza.

BHP Billiton is developing four nickel exploration sites in the Philippines, including a potential $1.8 billion project in the mineral-rich southern island of Mindanao.

The mining firm has been encountering some problems with disgruntled local groups opposed to its nickel mining plans.

Atienza said he came to Sydney with the President to have bilateral meetings with Australian mining companies.

He added that he would be advising local companies on how to deal with mounting opposition to Australian mining projects across the Philippines.

Australian and New Zealand firms are estimated to account for an estimated one-fourth of the investments in the Philippines’s booming mining industry.

The Arroyo administration has identified the minerals industry as one of the engine of growths considering the immense natural endowments of the country.

The Philippines is the fifth mineralized nation in the world, the third richest in gold, fourth in copper, fifth in nickel and sixth in chromite.

The President has always batted for sustainable mining activities in the country, the former Manila mayor said.

Atienza said that this year alone, investments in mining could reach as much as $600 million and $10-$11 billion in 2010-2011.

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