MAC: Mines and Communities

Protests at Philippine mining conference

Published by MAC on 2011-09-19
Source: Statements, GMANews.tv, Reuters (2011-09-21)

The Philippine mining industry's annual conference has just taken place in Manila. As usual government officials and industry bigwigs queued up to praise the state of the industry.

And - as usual - vocal protestors stood up to denounce the state of the industry.

Indigenous leaders were at the forefront of these protests. An indigenous Congressman, Teddy Brawner Baguilat, stated "that mining has led to the impairment of the rights and culture of indigenous communities.", particularly because mining companies have exerted undue influence over the legal process of "free, prior and informed consent".

ESPAÑOL

Groups protest against DENR, reject mining policy

ATM Press Release

13 September 2011

Indigenous peoples shout ‘no to mining our ancestral lands!'

Manila - Protestors held a rally in front of DENR yesterday, demanding that the government stop the entry of large-scale mining in ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. The event coincided with the 4th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Philippine mining conference protest
Protest groups demand the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995.
Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com

Indigenous peoples from the Cordillera region, Central Luzon, and the islands of Mindoro and Palawan are in Manila participating in the UNDRIP celebrations, and are holding national consultations on pending bills in Congress, including proposed laws on forestry, mining and land use. Participants represented the various ethno-linguistic groups including Ifugaos, Aetas, Dumagats, Mangyans and Palaw'ans.

IP [indigenous] solon [lawmaker] Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr., from Ifugao Province, issued a statement stating that UNDRIP was a landmark international policy but he wishes to highlight the struggles that indigenous peoples are still facing now.

"Even with UNDRIP and our very own Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 or IPRA, the implementation of policies protecting the rights of IPs in the country is quite weak. Conflicting laws and policies and the priority economic development strategy of the government are among the many hindrances to the full enjoyment of the indigenous peoples of their rights due them," said Baguilat.

Baguilat, who is the chairperson the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, is referring to the liberalization of the mining industry that has led to the increased manipulation of free prior and informed consent (FPIC) by mining companies, and displacement of indigenous communities due to aggressive promotion of large-scale mining.

Baguilat further added, "My committee has found that mining has led to the impairment of the rights and culture of indigenous communities. We must therefore approach mining initiatives with caution, if not trepidation, and if we must err, let it be in favour of our indigenous brothers and sisters."

Meanwhile, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said, "We are here today to reiterate and remind the DENR leadership that indigenous peoples and mining-affected communities altogether do not want mining."

ATM has documented that almost 2/3 of claimed and titled ancestral domains are directly impacted by mining applications and projects. These conflicts with mining are in ancestral lands in Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, South Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, and almost the whole of CARAGA region.

The protest at the DENR also coincided with the opening of an International Conference on Mining, hosted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, being held at the Sofitel Hotel, Pasay City.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

For more information:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02

Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61


Solon bats for a mining law responsive to Indigenous Peoples

Press Release

12 September 2011

Citing the documented negative effects of mining operations on indigenous communities, Ifugao Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat is pushing for a new mining law that respects and protects the rights of indigenous peoples (IP), especially over IPs' ancestral domains.

"In IP communities, mining operations have resulted in loss of livelihood, dislocation of settlements, weakening of social systems, and loss of ownership and control over land, among many other harmful effects," Baguilat remarked.

Baguilat's observations stem from a report of the House of Representatives' Committee on National Cultural Communities (NCC) which he chairs.

"The Constitution recognizes the importance of indigenous communities. Not only are they an indispensable component of the country's culture, they also hold a databank of traditional knowledge that can help solve global problems such as climate change. Their existence, therefore, cannot be sacrificed in the pretext of economic development," Baguilat stressed.

"The NCC has conducted several hearings and on-site investigations on IP concerns, and one issue that is most often raised is that of the invalid or manipulated acquisition of the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous communities," Baguilat explained.

The FPIC is a requirement being implemented by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) before any commercial activity affecting IP's ancestral domains can be undertaken. If majority of the affected indigenous peoples agree to the project/activity, a certificate of precondition is issued by the NCIP to the company.

"As the document's name suggests, an indigenous community's consent to mining operations must be freely obtained, with prior and sufficient information being provided to the IP concerned," Baguilat remarked.

But this does not seem to be the case in several complaints investigated by the NCC.

"With quite a number of reported violations in the issuance of the FPIC, it is now up to Congress to insulate the FPIC process against the influence of mining companies," Baguilat said.

Thus, Baguilat is pushing for a new mining law that would ensure the conservation and optimal use of mineral resources and respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

"The old mining law has proven to be insufficient in terms of protecting indigenous communities, so a new law must be instituted, one that will not sacrifice the rights and culture of IPs in exchange for a promise of economic gain," Baguilat noted.

The country joins the rest of the world in marking the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples tomorrow, September 13.

Contact: Robeliza Halip (0921-4928244); Maricel Tolentino, SMB (09178191089)


Protest caravan pushes for responsible and nationalized mining industry at the National Mining Conference

Defend Patrimony Press Release

13 September 2011

Environmental activists from the Defend Patrimony Alliance are joined today by various protest caravans from large-scale mining-affected communities to meet the opening of the national mining conference with calls for a moratorium on mining approval and the advancement of a pro-people mining policy.

"While the nation's mining magnates and foreign corporations have gathered to talk shop, the people have gathered here to advance a pro-people, pro-environment mining policy that would benefit our economy and communities," said Clemente Bautista, convenor of Defend Patrimony.

The Mining Philippines 2011 Conference is organized by the Philippine Chamber of Mines with the objective of discussing to over 500 local and international delegates the investment opportunities in the mining industry. Defend Patrimony stressed the protest at the conference's opening is not in opposition to mining and foreign investment per se, but to foreign-dominated and export-oriented production of the industry.

"By just having a revenue-transparent and domestic-oriented mining production we could have saved billions of pesos that could have been used for local development and social services," said Bautista. "The prevalence of corruption and non-transparency in the industry, mining companies under report their production to evade taxes and short change the government."

In 2007, the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) reported that gross production value in metallic mining was at P81.4 billion, but total metallic exports were at P112.015 billion, a discrepancy of more than thirty billion.

Protest caravans against destructive mining

Indigenous peoples and fisherfolks hailing from Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan travelled to Metro Manila to join the protest action, bringing to fore the issues of unabated magnetite and large-scale mining operations in their areas.

"We came here to push for the pullout of destructive mining operations from Nueva Vizcaya, which continue to operate despite the opposition of the local government unites and a recommendation from the Commission on Human Rights early this year to revoke their permit," said indigenous leader Deacon Lawrence Amwao, chairman of the Multisectoral Group against Mining. "We are direct stakeholders in that we are victims of mining aggression, yet our voices are left out of consideration in this conference."

The group also decried the continuing magnetite mining operations by Chinese mining corporations across the river shores and coasts of Cagayan, despite opposition mounting directly from the communities and local governments.

People's mining bill pushed

The protestors are also advocating for a new mining policy through HB 4315 or the People's Mining Bill, which seeks to reorient the country's current policy on the ownership and management of the industry towards national industrialization and local development. According to scientists' group Advocates of Science and Technology for the People or AGHAM, the pattern of foreign miners' profiteering at the expense of the local economy will persist without a national industrialization plan as framework.

"If we truly want responsible mining in the Philippines, we should do away with the Mining Act of 1995 and pave for the passage of the pro-people People's Mining Bill," said Dr. Giovanni Tapang, national chairperson of AGHAM. "A mining industry that is not responsible to the needs of the Filipino people will only contribute to the deepening of poverty and the chronic economic crisis."

After its action at the conference opening, the protest caravan will proceed to the offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Reference: Clemente Bautista 09228449787
Deacon Lawrence Amwao 0496065569
Dr. Giovanni Tapang 09275736714

KALIKASAN PEOPLE'S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756


Resolve licensing issues to spur investments, says Chamber of Mines

GMANews.tv

14 September 2011

Resolving mining licensing issues could yield as much as $13 billion in fresh investments, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said Tuesday.

"We are appealing to the government to act faster in fulfilling the mining laws," said Chamber of Mines president Philip Benjamin Romualdez in a media briefing at the opening of Mining Philippines 2011 Conference and Exhibition in Pasay City.

Romualdez explained that while government has made modest estimates in investments, the mining sector is more aggressively promoting greater foreign participation. The industry also wants to elevate the Philippine status as a mining country in the near future, Romualdez said.

Government forecasts show that mining investments could cumulatively rise to $13 billion in the next four years.

The $13 billion in capital investment should be on top of the $4 billion that has been invested since 2007 as well as the $1 billion investment in 2011, Romualdez said.

Mining companies are willing to allow investments to flow if the government will keep itself sensitive to the needs of investing companies "particularly on licensing issues that have affected numerous companies that have already invested a lot of money in various stages of operations," Romualdez said.

The country will see fresh capital investment only when government does its job and start processing permits that were either cancelled or denied, he added.

"The lifeblood of mining revenue is being strangled. Certain permits are part of the development program. But then things came to a grinding halt, when the government started to cancel permits," Romualdez said.

Protests against mining

The mining conference was also met by protests, particularly environmental activists from the Defend Patrimony Alliance along with communities hit by large-scale mining, according to a press release by Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

"While the nation's mining magnates and foreign corporations have gathered to talk shop, the people have gathered here to advance a pro-people, pro environment mining policy that would benefit our economy and communities," said Defend Patrimony convenor Clemente Bautista in a statement.

Bautista clarified that by staging a protest at the opening of the conference, Defend Patrimony is not opposing mining and foreign investment per se, but the industry's so-called foreign-dominated and export-oriented production.

"By just having a revenue-transparent and domestic-oriented mining production we could have saved billions of pesos that could have been used for local development and social services," Bautista said.

"The prevalence of corruption and non-transparency in the industry, mining companies under report their production to evade taxes and short change the government," Bautista alleged.

China investors

Meanwhile, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief said pledges by China investors could help the Philippine government raise its investment target in the mining sector by more than twice this year.

Investments could reach $2.8 billion from the original $1.4-billion target if the commitments from China "are turned into real investments," said MGB director Leo Jasareno in an interview with reporters at the sidelines of the Mining Philippines 2011.

"We have not taken into account probably investments from the Chinese when we did our projection for 2011 last year," Jasareno explained. - With Paterno Esmaquel II/VS, GMA News


Q+A-What ails the Philippine mining sector?

By Erik dela Cruz and Rosemarie Francisco

Reuters

13 September 2011

MANILA - Mining investments in the Philippines this year are forecast to hit $2.8 billion, double initial forecasts of $1.4 billion, and the highest annual figure since 2005 when the sector was opened fully to foreigners.

The Southeast Asian country, which sits on an estimated $1 trillion worth of mineral resources, wants to attract more mining investors and take advantage of higher global metal prices to create jobs and stimulate the domestic economy.

Investment policy flip-flops and a strong anti-mining lobby, however, have slowed development and the chances of boosting investments in the sector.

What is the Government's Stand on Mining?

Investment of $560 million in Aquino's first six months in office last year was in existing projects.

But hopes for new operations have grown after the Environment department completed in July an eight-month "cleansing" process aimed at getting rid of mining speculators.

The proliferation of mining speculators, or those given permits but have not started any projects, has discouraged serious investors and the development of the country's mining industry.

The government's use-it-or-lose-it policy has resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of permits for non-moving projects and the opening of about 5 million hectares of potentially mineralised areas across the archipelago to new investors.

The government is also seeking a review of fiscal incentives in the Mining Act to get more revenues to plug a huge budget gap.

But the 2010/2011 Fraser Institute annual survey of mining companies showed the Philippines was among the least attractive mining territories in the world, although it improved its ranking to 66th out of 79, from 70th out of 72 in the previous survey.

The index measures overall policy attractiveness based on taxation, infrastructure, political stability, labour issues, security and environmental regulations.

What is the Status of the Country's Biggest Mining Prospect?

The $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Xstrata Plc in the southern province of South Cotabato -- Southeast Asia's largest undeveloped copper-gold prospect -- is under threat from an open-pit mining ban imposed by the local government.

The justice, environment, and local government departments agree the mining ban and other anti-mining measures imposed by local governments run counter to the national mining law.

However, local government officials have invoked their powers and rights to protect their communities, causing an impasse on how to proceed with mining projects.

Sagittarius Mines Inc, Xstrata's Philippine unit, has sought a review of the ban, saying open pit mining was the safest and most economic extraction method.

Sagittarius has presented an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the mine via a series of public consultations, set to end this month, one of the requirements before a review of the local code starts.

Are other Provinces Adopting Anti-Mining Measures?

Environmental concerns were also cited for similar bans and mining moratorium in other provinces.

Industry group the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has said local government bans on mining have also been issued in the central provinces of Capiz, Bohol, Samar, Romblon, and Mindoro and the southern province of North Cotabato.

Anti-mining groups cite local opposition borne out of past accidents.

In 2005, heavy rains and a lack of safeguards triggered a cyanide spill at the poly metallic mine operated by Australian miner Lafayette in the central Philippines -- the first foreign-owned mine in the country after the Mining Act was enacted. The mine was closed after the accident and efforts to restart work failed due to a lack of funding.

Another often-cited accident was the 1996 tailings spill at Marcopper Mining Corp's copper mine in central Marinduque province, in which at least 1.5 million cubic metres of mine tailings flowed into surrounding rivers following flash floods, contaminating the river system and causing illnesses in the communities around the mine up to today.

What Problems do Miners Face?

A strong opponent in the majority Christian country is the Catholic Church, which has come out against mining projects such as the proposed Tampakan mine, citing local concerns.

Tax and security issues are also among investors' major concerns. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has proposed a 5 percent royalty fee from miners on top of the existing 2 percent excise tax, a proposal shot down by the industry.

Existing investors also complain that local governments impose unregulated taxes on mining. Local government units are given the power to levy taxes, fees or charges on businesses in their areas under the local code.

Miners must also deal with communist rebels demanding revolutionary taxes and compensation for communities hosting mining projects, and miners are harassed if they fail to pay up.

One result of large players shunning the country is that small-scale gold mining accounts for two-fifths to nearly half of annual total mining output by value, becoming a major employer as a result. (Editing by Ramthan Hussain)


MacroAsia sees early 2012 start for Philippine nickel mine

Reuters

21 September 2011

MANILA - The Philippines' MacroAsia Corp can start production as early as next year at its Infanta nickel mine, part of a 1,113-hectare prospect it plans to develop with China's Jinchuan Group, once all required permits are in, a senior company official said on Wednesday.

The Infanta mine in southwestern Palawan province, with proven reserves of at least 88 million tonnes of nickel ore, can produce 1 million tonnes of nickel laterite annually, with all of the output likely to be sold to China, said Ramon Santos, vice president for MacroAsia mining operations.

"We could develop the mine within six to nine months," Santos told reporters after speaking at a media forum, adding the company can operate the mine initially for 10 years.

He said the Infanta mine, within the 1,113-hectare site in Brooke's Point, Palawan which MacroAsia is allowed to explore, could be extended if more reserves were found and nickel prices remain high.

The diversified Philippine firm signed a memorandum of agreement for joint investments in Palawan, estimated to reach $1 billion, with China's Jinchuan Group Ltd during President Benigno Aquino's recent state visit.

The agreement involves the development of nickel mines in Palawan and construction of nickel processing facilities, Santos said.

In the first seven months of 2011, the Philippines was China's second-largest supplier of nickel ore and concentrate imports, used for the production of stainless steel.

A "more definitive" agreement with Jinchuan could be worked out once all regulatory approvals for the Infanta project have been obtained, Santos said, adding the company just needs the go ahead from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples before it could start the project.

MacroAsia was also looking at gold and copper projects in the central Visayas and southern Mindanao regions, he said.

MacroAsia closed unchanged on Wednesday in a market that slipped 0.4 percent.

($1 = 43.4 pesos)

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco)


Gold Fields could invest as much as $2bn in Philippines gold, copper prospect - govt

Reuters

21 September 2011

MANILA - South Africa's Gold Fields Ltd could invest up to $2 billion to develop a gold and copper prospect in the Philippines, a government official said on Wednesday, although the company said it was far too early for such estimates.

Gold Fields, the world's fourth-largest gold producer, said on Wednesday it had made a $66 million down payment for an option to acquire a 60 percent interest in the undeveloped Far Southeast gold-copper project.

"Their initial disclosure to us, assuming the due diligence is successful, they are looking at $1.8 billion to $2.0 billion investment budget," said Leo Jasareno, director of state agency Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

That cost covered exploration to full development, he said.

A Gold Fields spokesman in Johannesburg said it was "far too early" to begin allocating a budget or estimating costs for the project, not least because the company has not yet decided if it will exercise the option or not.

Gold Fields entered into option agreements a year ago with the Philippines' Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co and Liberty Express Assets to buy 60 percent of the project.

The option price was $340 million, which included the downpayment and the $54 million Gold Fields previously paid. Under the deal, Gold Fields has until March 2012 to conduct a drilling programme as part of a feasibility study.

On Wednesday, the South African miner said if it exercised the option it would deliver a final payment of $220 million in the first half of next year. Chief Executive Nick Hollands said in a statement the drilling results showed promise.

The project is in the northern part of the country's main Luzon island, and Gold Fields said it "has ready access to established infrastructure, including roads, tailings facilities, power and water."

Jasareno told reporters that if Gold Fields was satisfied with the due diligence results, its plan was to apply for a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), the mining permit required for large-scale mining exploration and development projects.

The Philippines' mining sector is getting positive response from foreign investors keen to pursue mining ventures, as few signs of a slowdown are seen in mineral demand from countries like China, but policy bottlenecks are limiting a quicker flow of investments.

The government expects new investments in its minerals industry to hit $2.8 billion this year, double an initial forecast and the highest annual figure since the sector was fully opened to foreign investors in 2005.

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Johannesburg; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco and Ramthan Hussain)

 

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