Neoliberal Mining amid El Niño Induced Drought in the Philippines

William N. Holden


In recent years the government of the Philippines, acting in adherence to the principles of neoliberalism, has encouraged large-scale mining as a method of achieving economic development. The islands of the Philippines are, however, highly vulnerable to El Niño induced drought. Mining can interfere with groundwater resources, aggravate an El Niño induced drought, and deprive the rural poor of much needed water thus causing a disaster wherein a natural hazard impacts a vulnerable population. The possibility of mining adversely interacting with El Niño induced drought is aggravated by the deforestation of the Philippines and may well worsen due to anthropogenic climate change. Subjecting mining projects to environmental impact assessment and the mining industry’s purported use of best practices in environmental management appear to be ineffective methods for ameliorating the risks posed by mining amid El Niño induced drought. These risks have generated substantial civil society opposition to mining in the Philippines.

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Journal of Geography and Geology   ISSN 1916-9779 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9787 (Online)  Email:

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