Aussie mining firms look to host community for security
By Pia Lee-Brago
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Australian mining companies are counting on local community support as the best form of protection from anti-mining elements, Australian Ambassador Tony Hely said yesterday.
Hely noted that mining can attract the wrong kinds of interest, in apparent reference to reported extortion activities by some groups like the rebels, that are aimed at business interests, including mining projects.
“I think there is a difficult balance for mining companies because they want to regard local community support as best form of protection. So they are not necessarily wanting to have a lot of security guards around their mines,” Hely said. “At the same time, they do have to protect themselves from the attacks from the NPA (New People’s Army) or whoever that is one issue, although I think the companies generally are of a view that their best form of protection is to deliver good social and economic benefits to local communities and that will provide the best security perimeter.”
He said anti-mining sentiment in the country, from environmental and church and other groups, remains a concern for some mining companies because of organizations portraying foreign companies as not acting responsibly in accordance with the mining laws and regulations.
These companies, he said, should be committed to delivering benefits socially and economically to local communities.
“But then you would find civil society and other groups outside the region coming in and wanting to portray the mines as being foreign exploitation. I’m confident that Australian companies have that approach in mining. I’m not sure if they have been given the chance because of the overwhelming anti-mining sentiments,” he added.
According to Hely, seven of the 23 priority Filipino mining exploration projects have Australian interests including one of the largest mines in
“It is still a few years away from production and it would involve $2 billion in investment just in infrastructure. That is a huge project. Some of the other ones are smaller than that so it is very hard to give a precise figure because they are all in different stages of their involvement,” Hely said.
“The problem I think with mining is it takes a long while to demonstrate the benefits for the people and so there will be opposition including in the media until people can see the benefits. It’s such a long term issue,” Hely said.“We think that the developmental benefits are strong and that responsible mining is a big opportunity for the