Shortage of mining engineers feared in Mindanao
by Prix D Banzon
Davao City (19 October) -- There is a shortage in mining engineers here because of the perception that mining is an industry that destroys the environment.
Engr. Lucio Castillo, president of the Mindanao Association of Mining Engineers (MAEM) said that only very few want to take the course because of limited or little knowledge about mining engineering. The course is offered only in schools in Manila and Cebu.
"Mining engineers are important in the industry and this is a skill that is needed in mining operations" Castillo explained.
He said there are only 4,000 mining engineers in the country and half of these are employed abroad.
Of the remaining 2,000 mining engineers, 60 percent are almost retirable that is why mining companies operating here have no choice but to rehire those engineers that are already retired.
In Mindanao, he said, there are only about 230 mineral engineers with about 30 percent of them employed abroad. The island only has about 150 mining engineers working either in government or in mining companies.
He said they are now strongly campaigning for students to take mineral engineering and geology courses to support the need of the mining industry.
He said there is a boom in the industry and engineers and other related skilled workers is a must to support the sector.
Castillo said salaries for entry level mining engineers is pegged at P50,000 per month although those hired abroad for supervisory positions could fetch as high as $3,000 a month.
A division chief level mineral engineers in the government only gets P22,000 monthly while lower position is pegged at P15,000 a month.
There are also problems insofar as this type of course is concerned because mining is dependent on the dictate of the market and it is global.
"Once the market is not good your employment will also be affected," he said.
But with the recent development of the mining industry, the prospects are bright and many international investors are working a joint venture with local partners for mining exploration.
Castillo stressed that there is always a call for responsible mining and this is what their association has been advocating ever since.
He said among others is the right of the indigenous peoples who must be protected and that no mining areas can be explored without the free prior inform consent of the IPs. When the area is given the go signal for exploration the IPs are given protection fee through royalty shares of one percent of the gross milling and mining cost.
Meanwhile Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB XI) officer-in-charge Engr. Edilberto Arreza said although a lot of international investors want to invest in the mining industry here there are no longer available areas for exploration.
He said all the areas identified for mineral exploration were already issued to local investors.
He said what has been done here is a joint venture with local partners.
He said once a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) is issued, a company is given 10 years to complete the study.
He sad six years is for exploration, two years for feasibility study and another two years to finalize its project.
After the ten-year period, he said the company must be on a full swing mining operation. (PIA XI) [top]