Mining’s resurgence: Manny Pangilinan’s vision for green technology

Bilyonaryo Manny V. Pangilinan has asserted the vital role of mining in supporting the growth of green technology.

Addressing attendees at the 2023 Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibition, Pangilinan emphasized the critical significance of mining in enabling the ongoing development of green technologies, including electric vehicles, batteries, solar panels, and wind farms.

While acknowledging the potential challenges that mining poses to sustainability, Pangilinan, chairman of Philex Mining, stressed that it simultaneously serves as a catalyst for the flourishing of green technology.

He underscored the fact that mining not only generates job opportunities and profits but also contributes to the overall well-being of the population.

He also noted that steel, arsenic, gallium, germanium, indium, and tellurium, aluminum and a number of rare earth compounds are needed for solar panels and wind farms.

“I would then argue that in many respects, sustainability rests on green technology—and by extension, reliance on mining would continue,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said the question related to sustainability moving forward must be “if others can conduct their mining operations responsibly and sustainably, why can’t we?”

But the businessman himself admitted that the country’s mining industry has to level up when it comes to sustainability practices and standards.

He said among the mining sustainability issues that must be addressed include health-related and safety concerns, exploitation of women and child workers, the lack of clarity of plans and actionable post-mining rehabilitation.

Pangilinan said the private sector should also help government raise its supervisory capabilities through funding of scholarships and training locally and abroad, procurement of equipment, and hiring of requisite personnel.

The functions of regulation and the promotion of the mining industry should likewise be separated, he said.

“MGB is charged with the promotion, development, and supervision of mining. EMB’s mandate is to enforce environmental laws on mining. both fall under the supervision of the DENR,” Pangilinan said.

“These apparently conflicting goals can, at times, place the DENR in a policy dilemma,” he added, suggesting instead to spin off the EMB into a separate and independent body, similar to the environmental protection agency in the US.

In addition, Pangilinan expressed Philex’s willingness to embrace a profit-based fiscal regime to ensure a fair distribution of resource-derived benefits between local government units and the national government.

Ultimately, Pangilinan challenged the misconception that mining and sustainability are mutually exclusive.

He argued that poverty, rather than mining, should be seen as the primary adversary. Pangilinan emphasized that it is unjust to judge the entire industry based on the actions of a few, likening it to forming an opinion on German literature solely by reading Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

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