"WILL those hotshot economists and environmental scientists from the country's top schools please conduct a credible cost-benefit analysis of the mining industry in the Philippines?" asks Business Mirror in an editorial.
Feeling -ehem- alluded to in part (I'm not an environmental scientist by the way), let me dish out a reality check: There is no way you can conduct a benefit-cost analysis on mining per se. It simply does not work that way.
What you do is you point to a specific mining activity, over a particular location and time period, and then you can do retrospective benefit-cost analysis of the net benefits of that activity. Or you can identify a specific planned mining project to do prospective benefit-cost analysis. Then you can make a conclusion of "go" or "no-go" over such projects. Never for an industry as a whole.
Of course if you want to be academic about it then you can do some kind of rough-and-dirty, broad-stroke analysis covering a whole industry. However nothing beats an honest-to-goodness, empirical study. And for that one must go site-specific. And be ready to shoulder the cost of doing such studies. (As a percentage of mining revenues, such studies are not that expensive.)
As I understand it some kind of benefit-cost analysis is already de rigeur in the environmental impact assessment phase of mining project. The quality of this analysis is of course another issue. As with anything else - you need to call a professional.