Friday, July 13, 2012

JoAm: "Nationalize Mining!", exclamation point!


One of my thinking styles is to figure, well, if Person X, for whom I don't hold a lot of respect, says to do something THIS WAY, I say DO IT THE OPPOSITE WAY! Exclamation points are required.

  • So if Get Real Post says Senator Santiago is a hero, I can be quite confident that the CORRECT approach is to get the lady out of positions where she affects us! Like push her off to the International Court where she can wreak her brand of over-the-top speeches on the rest of the world.

  • Similarly, if the Philippine National Government is operating education in a way that seems, well, uneducated, I am inclined to come up with the idea "PRIVATIZE EDUCATION!"

  • And if private mining companies scream and protest everything the Philippines tries to do to protect its environment, resources, citizen safety, and wealth, I am inclined to say NATIONALIZE MINING!"

That's where I am this morning. I commend President Aquino on issuing Executive Order Number 79 that mandates protection of Philippine resources, restricts small scale mining, raises the cut of revenue the Philippines gets from 2 percent to 5 percent, and mandates a ban on further mining until Congress passes new laws making things like the 5 percent levy official. He has taken firm steps to bring order to an industry that has run amuck for decades, poisoning streams, killing workers, ruining wilderness areas, and stripping the Philippines of its long-term wealth.

Good step, Mr. President.

But wait a minute!

Two organizations that I don't hold in the highest regard are reasonably pleased with the Executive Order: (1) mining companies, and (2) the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Now I am confused, for these two parties are ordinarily on opposite sides of the matter. Mining companies want freedom to mine and profit, the Bishops want land and people protected better. I think the Mining Companies are pleased because the measures allow them to mine; they are not draconian measures. The CBCP is pleased because at least SOME restrictions are being put in place.

Maybe the Aquino Administration got this one right, cutting right down the middle.

The environmentalists, however, are not happy. The law did not go far enough. Of course, I rather suspect the only way they would be completely happy would be if mining were completely banned. Unfortunately, it is not possible to dig ore from the ground without digging ore from the ground.

Let's step back a bit and strive to do some really fine generalizations.

What is a nation, really? Is it its land or is it its people? Or is it the principles it stands for: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Well, fundamentally, a nation is a community banded together to protect its members (source, Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary, page 832). A lot goes into this protection. Laws, to establish harmonious order and protect us from each other. Defense, or guns and bombs to repel violent opponents who want to bring us down. A good economy so that there are jobs and food on the table. Preserving the nation's resources, for without them, we have nothing in the future.

That's why over-fishing in the surrounding seas is a gross failure of government. Authorities are not preserving our future fisheries. They are failing. They should not be allowed to offer excuses or blames. They are failing.

And that's why mining needs to be managed with great care. Minerals are not like fish. Fish grow back if you give them the right environment and stop dynamiting their houses to sand. A rock, once dug up and sold, is gone.

The Philippines sits on tremendous wealth. Copper, gold, nickel and oil. These assets are like a retirement fund. If you blow it in the short term, you suffer later on. Well, that's our kids we are talking about, the suffering ones. As every investment broker will tell you, each move TODAY needs to fit a plan, a framework, a purpose. You can't knee-jerk your way to wealth and security.

Allowing Korean and Chinese companies to come to the Philippines and strip the place bare with little consideration of long-range impacts is a poor strategy. Exporting the profits that come from smelting and forming these metals is a loss to the Philippines.

"But Joe, we don't have  industrial plants in the Philippines that can do these things! The business is too big, too expensive for us."

Exactly. That's why mining needs to be nationalized. "The Philippine National Mining Company". Good old PNMC.  So the Philippines can marshal its resources, take its time, build a mine-to-finished product capacity, and gain all there is to gain from its finite resources.

Even a 5% tax is giving away the nation's wealth. Running the mines should generate profits of at least 15%. THAT would be a fair return to Filipinos for the use of their resources.  Repeat. "Their" . . . . meaning Filipino citizen . . . resources. These are not Korean resources or Chinese or American. The rocks don't belong to the Senators or even the President. It is disturbing to me that the Philippines is willing to sell its rocks so cheaply and to let companies from other nations jerk the Philippines around as if they had right and title to the rocks, and can make up their own rules as they dig.

I suppose there is a tendency, being needy, for the Philippines to grab the gold now. Get the jobs now.

We should resist that urge, the urge to get a quick peso.

And, yes. I recognize that I am being an idealist, impractical, a space cadet, na├»ve.  I know it is too late to go knee-jerk with Joe Am's nationalization program.

But for myself, I'd rather do nothing than see the minerals sold for a song.

Let those foreign dirt-diggers go dig in Venezuela. Philippine legislators should perfect a really fine mining plan that does not sell Philippine rocks at rock-bottom prices.

The ball is in the legislator's court.

9 comments:

  1. From: The Cricket (aka: "old fart"!)

    1. Wonderful essay and suggestion...but too
    late to do much if any good as the "cat is
    already out of the bag"...roaming the island
    streets and devouring every innocent!

    2. How do I know you might ask! From my
    rocking chair I see the "fruits/results" each
    day on the streets, in the media, and listening to my wife! When I was growing up my mother and
    grandmother taught me how to tell what fruits
    were ready for pickin, good, had bad taste, rotten...freezer burnt! The PH island rulers
    have provided bad fruit, are providing bad
    fruit, and if they keep doing it no one will
    remain alive...not even the tourists!

    3. Illustration/example for your consideration--go to "blogwatch.TV/citizens media...look for the topic of Mining --E079/Noynoys Ghost writers.

    See: Killer Dams #1 and #2--i.e. irriversable
    damage to Boac River/Marindaguje, and Tampakan Dam....then become very sad, very, very sad!
    The old saying "a day late...a dollar short...."
    could possibly apply here!

    Why: Pick--
    a. Church misjudgement/mis-management...
    b. Government misjudgement/mis-management...
    c. Idots for educators
    d. Islanders who fled the islands...
    e. Too many cooks spoil the dinner!
    f. Vultures/vampires....and ghosties!
    g. Greasie crooks/public officials....
    f. ......(you can fill in the rest as I
    am getting depressed by the second!).

    Soooo sorry to be soooo late, so honest,
    soooo serious,etc....!

    The cure/solution: As our national government
    has abdicated its sworn reponsibilitiy to serve
    and protect the public...then they need to go
    one way or another...but just go! My wife
    the "island queen" states that she would feel
    much better if one day soon a earthquake hit
    the public buildings and sent every "jerk" to
    hell....as they have ruined her memories of
    a wonderful island world/childhood and
    livelyhood for her family!

    Okay...so I have got to the point where I
    scared myself into another bottle of SMB...
    Wishing for a "yellow brick road"....!

    Chirp!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah man,

      Some crazy American calls it "You are in dip shit, bro; better get your shit together or else...."

      Its Jack

      Delete
  2. manuelbuencaminoJuly 13, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Actually the CBCP is not happy with the EO. It wants a moratorium on its implementation until the AMMB, the alternative mining bill proposed by the CBCP is passed.

    And the reds are against it because they want mining nationalized. In addition, if you overlay a map identifying NPA concentrations over a map where small mining is rampant you will see an incredible match. The mining EO takes away the right of local pols to grant small scale mining activities that don't fit with national policy on mining vis a vis environment etc

    The mining industry likes it because it respects existing contracts but it expressed reservations over the provision that says the old "first come first serve" rule will be replaced by competitive bidding.

    Some environmentalists like the bill because it added quite a number of areas closed to mining but other environmentalists hate it because they want a complete stop to mining.

    Local government officials are against the EO because their "autonomy" as far as mining permits etc are concerned has been placed under the umbrella of a national approach but other local government officials found solace in the creation of a commission that includes a rep of local gov'ts and a rep from indigenous people.

    In short, the mining EO is not perfect, it does not please everybody but it is a move away from the status quo that is universally condemned by both pro and anti mining groups. Besides the EO is a positive stop-gap while the nation waits for Congress to pass a proper mining bill.

    Anyway, here's a pretty good analysis of the EO: http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/8385-mining-e-o-not-perfect,-but-very-good

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the crisp overview, MB, and the reference link. Given all the complexities and the polarized views, I'd say the EO does a good job to tread a very delicate center point.

      Delete
  3. From: Island jim-e (aka: The cricket

    1. My grandfather and his father were Italian "re-
    settlerss" from the "old country" and I recall how
    the mining families lived, survived, raised a "brood"
    of children dispite the harshness of the environment,
    world and lack of mine safety regulations!

    2. I would have no issue with the PH government
    (if they did the right thing by the population) to
    enter into a 51% partnership with the private
    companies as long as the "big stick" was held by
    the government. A step-up or step-down master-
    lease that would be reviewed annually by all
    parties, a earlyl-out clause in favor of the
    government in the event of non-performance or bad
    faith, a quarterly audit by all parites to provide
    equity, daily inspections and monitoring of the
    tons moved and pro-rated income (or vat) levied
    directly into a public trust authority.

    When leases are put up to bid, each bidder would be
    required to put up front a non-refundable fee to
    "enter" into the pre-bid or lottery, All
    private parties would put up a guarantee certified
    "ready, capable and able "bond" by a international
    banking and insurance company.

    The winner would agree by contract to put equipment in place
    and become operational within 60 days, and all parties
    would schedule a set of goals for the year-bonus
    for "over-production", fines for underproduction, and
    establish a public access internet site to post notices,
    information, progress news, provide for a public access
    comment/complaint or question, etc..

    I would then hope that ther inspectors of the daily
    operation and enviornmental monitors would do "due
    dilligence" to protect the public safety and interests.

    All infastructure must be put in place before
    the first load of "product" is loaded out of the
    operation, to include workers housing, sidewalks,
    paved (drained) roadbeds, sanitary sewers, fresh
    water and gray/green water processing and re-processing
    stations. A mandatory alternative energy system with
    a emergency back up multi-fuel generator.

    The government would be mandated to construct a
    operational fire-police-social service and emergency
    response center with a heli-pad. A on-site
    medical center/hospital/clinic and public green-space-
    community center (free library and computer access)
    and park.

    The and only then would feel like "we the people"
    were getting a "fair shake"! Chirp!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Superb concept. Finish the infrastructure before you can dig one shovel of dirt. You should shuffle this notion off onto Mr. Aquino's mining regulators.

      Delete
    2. Side note. For some reason your comments are going into my spam file, so there is delay between when you file them and when they get published. I have no idea how to correct that. I keep telling the system that you may eat Spam, but you are not one . . .

      Delete
  4. Just six weeks ago, our Prime Minister Ms Gillard was talking on this exact subject at a dinner attended by Australia’s mining bosses. This is what she told them:

    “You don't own the minerals; they [the people of Australia] own it and they deserve their share."

    She went on to say:

    "Governments only sell you the right to mine the resource - a resource we hold in trust for a sovereign people."

    The background to this is increased mining taxes just passed by the upper house, despite one of the most extensive and expensive TV advertising campaigns ever against the tax, funded by the mining industry.

    A government these days has to be very brave to get between mining companies and their profit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed. Excellent testimony to the need to get value for valuables. Thanks.

      Delete

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