The archipelago of the Philippines is well endowed with nferrous mineral resources, and in recent years the Philippine government, acting under the influence of the dominant and seemingly ubiquitous neoliberal development paradigm, has liberalized its mining laws in order to accelerate ecomic development. Yet the Philippines is also a country highly prone to a variety of natural hazards that have the ability to interact adversely with mining's potential for environmental degradation. Thus there are great dangers inherent in pursuing such a development paradigm: earthquakes can destabilize tailings storage facilities, typhoons can flood tailings ponds, and mine-pit dewatering can enhance the competition for groundwater resources during droughts. This study explores how these hazards amplify the environmental harm prevalent in mining, and reveals the substantial threat posed to the livelihoods of the archipelago's poor, as well as the inadequacies of the very institutions designed to protect their environment.
William N. Holden is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and an inactive member of the Law Society of Alberta. R. Daniel Jacobson is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and a Switzer Research Fellow.