Something made me shiver in fear as I read the news that the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council will review the ban on open pit mining which was ordered by the former Environment Secretary, Gina Lopez. What worsened my anxiety was the announcement by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau that it has submitted a recommendation to the Environment Secretary, Roy Cimatu, to lift the ban on the basis of internationally accepted and legal mining methods.
Even assuming for argument’s sake that internationally accepted and legal methods will be used in creating more open pit mines in the Philippines, the fact will always remain that once mountains are lopped off and the earth is excavated, destroying everything that’s living in and around it to give way to some 50 or 60 stories deep of open-pit mines, no amount of rehabilitation or technology can bring them back. The open-pit mines will forever remain to be open pits—gaping holes that are unproductive and dangerous to all living things because the artificial lakes created by the open pits contain toxic mine tailings and acid water. But this, in fact, is still just a teeny weeny peek into the horrific scenario caused by open pit mines. The reality is, because of the geographic configuration of the Philippines with more than 7,100 islands when the earth is excavated to create open pits for mining purposes, a water table is invariably hit, wasting the water in it. This is frightening because studies have shown that in 2030 there will be a global shortage of water.