THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last April 4 to develop technology-driven solutions for “responsible mining”.
The DOST inked the deal through the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research Development (PCIEERD) at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Bonifacio Global City, Makati.
PCIEERD is one of the attached agencies of the DOST, while COMP is a private organization of 80 mining and quarrying firms. PCIEERD officials Carlos Primo David and Raul Sabularse signed the MOA with COMP executives Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez and Nelia C. Halcon.
“Hopefully, this will be another long-term successful partnership between COMP and the government,” said Romualdez as he expressed willingness to share mining technologies with the government.
The mining industry has been at loggerheads recently with Gina Lopez, secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, who has revoked a number of mining licenses in the country.
Romualdez revealed his group has been mulling the partnership with DOST, particularly PCIEERD, to follow the example of other countries where minerals have been developed for their economic benefit.
As the Philippines is known to be rich in mineral resources, Romualdez said the country should also have the same private-public sector partnership. “We are here to strengthen the government’s capacity by partnering with PCIEERD particularly, under the DOST, to push this,” he said.
PCIEERD, said Romualdez, is “the most capable science agency in the government. “It is not about policy, it is not about regulation, it is basically science and technology,” he said.
Romualdez said the MOA formalized their working relationship with PCIEERD, which has the expertise on science-based researches and solutions concerning issues and aspects of mining that need technical and scientific expertise.
David cited the mining industry as one where the DOST also aims to help through research and development (R&D). He emphasized that they are not in the business of doing actual mining. “In fact, whether or not there is still mining, there are issues that science and technology can play an important role.”
David named as example the rehabilitation of legacy mines (abandoned old mines), which he said pose danger to the environment and the people’s safety even if there is mining activity or not. “We have to do something about (the legacy mines),” said David.
Another example are the thousands of small-scale mining, which the government does not oppose, “but from our studies they actually also result in many environmental degradation.”
The DOST, he said, cannot tell small-scale miners to stop. “So, what DOST does is to provide them with the appropriate technology so they continue mining but reduce the environmental impact,” said David.
He said PCIEERD has put up a pilot plant for green mining for small-scale miners in Itogon, Benguet, and at least three other areas in Bicol and in Compostela Valley and Davao.
“We are outside of the politics of mining, but definitely, we should continue on working through science and technology in improving rehabilitation,” he said.