The Philippine Mining Act of 1995

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos signed “An Act Instituting a New System of Mineral Resources Exploration, Development, Utilization, and Conservation”—the Philippine Mining Act—into law in 1995. The pro-mining law was a clear attempt to spur foreign direct investment and boost the economy. It provided many incentives to prospective companies, including political rights, full ownership of land, and tax holidays. As a result, from 1994 to 1996, the country hosted a 400 percent increase of foreign mining companies. However, many of the mineral-rich areas in the Philippines overlapped with its indigenous population. Thus, court battles ensued between indigenous people—some of whom were displaced—and the Philippine government. The former challenged the constitutionality of the law, citing provisions in the 1987 Constitution that protected indigenous people and restricted foreign involvement in natural resource extraction; the latter argued that outsourcing mining would increase foreign investment, create jobs, and be worth up to 840 billion USD. In 2004, the Supreme Court of the Philippines initially ruled on behalf of the anti-mining crowd. However, under immense pressure, it soon overruled its decision and sided strongly on behalf of the pro-mining government, supporting economic growth over ethical and environmental matters. 

Contributed by Preston Schmitt
Course: Modern Global Environmental History
Instructor: Dr. Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
University of Wisconsin–Madison, US

Further Readings: 
  • Di Marco, Martin H., et al. "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Mining Industry: Perspectives from Stakeholder Groups in Argentina". Resources Policy 37, no. 2 (2012): 212–22.
  • Walter, Mariana, and Joan Martinez-Alier. "How to Be Heard When Nobody Wants to Listen: Community Action against Mining in Argentina." Canadian Journal of Development Studies 30, no. 1–2 (2010): 281–301.