Trade group cautions court on mining orderadmin
The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) has warned that any court order stopping the 30-day test run of the mining operation of Lafayette Philippines in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, may derail the infusion of more foreign mining investments into the country.
FPI president Jesus Arranza said the government’s target of raising $122 million in mining investments by year’s end is potentially imperiled by the injunction case that had been filed against Lafayette and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Angelo Reyes before the Makati Regional Trial Court.
”The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has recorded a total of $47.91 million in fresh investments from January to May this year, on top of the $500 million previously infused in the government’s 24 priority projects in the mining sector,” Arranza said.
”But now, this court petition against Lafayette and the DENR might force foreign investors to bring their money elsewhere despite the renewed enthusiasm generated by the government in the mining sector,” the FPI official added.
Arranza pointed out that the interests of investors in the local mining scene have intensified after Secretary Reyes allowed the test run of the Rapu-Rapu project after nine months of closure since October.
He stressed that the growing enthusiasm of investors will surely be dampened by any court intervention as the DENR decision ordering a 30-day test run for the Rapu-Rapu had been widely acclaimed as fair to all parties concerned.
The Rapu-Rapu mine site is expected to generate revenues of $350 million a year from annual productions of 10,000 tons of copper concentrates, 14,000 tons of zinc, 50,000 ounces of gold and 600,000 ounces of silver.
The three-stage test run in Rapu-Rapu required the completion by Lafayette of structures, including a storm drainage canal, bigger tailings dam and emergency control mechanisms.
”Secretary Reyes ordered the test run after numerous consultations and studies conducted by environment, geosciences, health and environmental experts,” Arranza said.
”Thus it would be counter-productive at this point in time to allow a small but noisy group of people to stop the test run on account of their unsubstantiated allegation that there had been another wastewater spill at the start of the test run,” he added.
Arranza said the DENR, under Reyes, would have surely stopped the test run if the allegation made by the group was true since Reyes has been consistent in his decisions in pushing the administration’s promotion of responsible mining in order to spur the growth of the economy.
The FPI official presaged the loss not only of direct foreign investments but also of much-needed government revenues and potential jobs to be generated by the investments if the courts will unduly intervene in priority projects.
”This warning is not limited to the mining sector since foreign investors have the same mind set. They usually leave a country en masse and bring their investments elsewhere when they see undue interference in the normal operations of industries and companies,” Arranza said.
This is the reason injunction orders issued by courts are frowned upon by investors and the government itself, Arranza said. Many petitions for temporary restraining orders and injunctions have already filed just to harass legitimate business operations, he said.