MANILA — Minerals are not the only things foreign large-scale mining companies are taking away from developing countries, they may very well be taking away the latter’s future for development.
In the recently-concluded International Peo-ple’s Conference on Mining (IPCM), Ibon Foundation executive director Jose Enrique Africa said more than just the impact of foreign, large-scale mining on the environment, one should also look into its impact on the community and the lost possibility for implementing a national industrialization program.
Africa said since 1970s, when neoliberal policies were first imposed on the Philippines, the total raw mineral exports amount to $44 billion. Last year, the country exported $4.4 billion-worth of raw minerals. This, however, constitutes a mere 0.7 percent of the country’s GDP.
“What we lost is not just the resources, but what our country could have done to industrialize and provide jobs,” he said.
In the US, Africa said, industries have contributed $2.5 trillion to its Gross Domestic Product. The materials needed for such come from the resources from developing countries – even if quantitatively it was just one or two grams per, for example, a computer chip.
Africa said that while the US and other developed countries reap the natural resources from the Philippines, the country’s manufacturing industry has collapsed. This has led to a backward technology, widespread unemployment, poverty and the diaspora of Filipinos to find work abroad.
“Mining companies cannot destroy that which they cannot pay for,” Africa quipped, adding that this is deceiving as it does not reflect what is happening on the ground.
The Philippines has had a fair share of mining disasters since large-scale foreign companies have began digging the country’s natural resources. “It is a good time to challenge the hegemony of neoliberalism,” Africa said. (Bulatlat.com)