MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Details of the Tampakan project challenged

Published by MAC on 2011-10-05
Source: Statement, Inquirer, Mindanews, Sun Star et al

The Xstrata-controlled Tampakan project has become one of the most contentious in the Philippines, and one that MAC has critiqued for several years (see, for example: Tampakan project driven on, while brakes applied elsewhere in Philippines).

There are many reasons for this - not least that, if it goes ahead, the mine will become the largest in the Philippines. But there are many specific problems with the project, and these have mobilised civil society, leading to the local provincial government enacting a ban on open-pit mining.

Independent experts have criticised the company's Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on behalf of local people opposing the project. This team comprises local and national professionals, partnered by Clive Wicks and Robert Goodland on behalf of the UK-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines.

A huge public meeting was held where Clive Wicks spoke directly to local stakeholders, and challenged the company over the contents of the team's report, particularly by quantifying the costs of worst case scenarios.

Dramatising one of the problems dogging this project, a company employee - one responsible for land acquisition - has been shot dead.

Tampakan mining dangerous: experts

Manila Times

2 October 2011

Koronadal City: International and local experts criticized the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the Tampakan Mine Project during a public forum held at the South Cotabato gymnasium and Cultural Center on September 23.

Mining forum over Tampakan mining project
Mining forum over Tampakan mining project Source: Edwin Espejo

The Office of the Governor and the Social Action Center of Marbel co-organized the activity to bring together the consultants of Sagittarius Mines Inc/Xstrata and experts from the anti-mining groups to present the possible impact of the Tampakan mining project to the people and environment according to Father Joy Peliño, director of the Social Action Center of the Marbel Diocese

Clive Wicks and Dr. Robert Goodland, environmental consultants and members of the London based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines (WGMP-UK) read and analyzed the draft Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of SMI/Xstrata and found that the 3,000-page document fails to disclose the most severe impacts of the mining project in an area of high seismic activity and is badly flawed in recognition of the risks the mine poses.

A shorter version of the ESIA, the EIS, was equally criticized. The document is a requirement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB)-before SMI/Xstrata can receive the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) necessary to start the mine development.

After two and a half hours of presentation by the SMI/Xstrata consultants, Clive Wicks and Filipino experts, lawyer Ipat Luna and Kail Zingapan, presented their evaluation and discussed the real risks of the project that seemed to be covered up in the massive EIS and ESIA documents.

Wicks pointed out that SMI own consultants admitted in their Waste Management Appendix (page 42)-"there is a high potential for loss of life and severe environmental damage if the tailings dam or rock storage facility collapse." He went on to say that in his and Dr. Robert Goodland opinion, there was a strong chance that the facilities would collapse just as 16 tailings dams have collapsed in the Philippines in recent years. Many more tailings dams have collapsed on the Island of New Guinea.

"You know that the mine area is on top of stratovolcanoes and fault lines, some of which cross each other, and is located in an area of high seismic activity, and you will build large dams and a rock storage facility for 1.6 billion tons of toxic rock that are highly susceptible to breakage and disasters. In that event, how many people will die?" Wicks asked the SMI experts. This was a basic question he had asked in his assessment of other plans in different countries. SMI/Xstrata consultants, however, did not answer the query.

Wicks also pointed out that SMI/Xstrata are expecting the people of the three provinces to take the risk forever in perpetuity, while the company only carries the risk for about 20 years. The company does not even recognize many of them as stakeholders. Every person who uses water from the Tampakan Mountain is a stakeholder and has a human right to clean water. One of the biggest risks is to the vital shallow aquifers under Koronadal Valley and many other areas. If they are polluted by acid mine drainage they can never be cleaned up.

Wicks and Goodland are the authors of the book Philippines: Mining or Food? published in 2009, a book that documented how the agriculture industry and communities are affected by mining activities in the country.

The Tampakan mine development covers an area of approximately 10, 000 hectares. The development will cut down almost 4,000-hectares of forests including old growth forests. It will affect the water source of communities on 6 rivers with arsenic and acid mine drainage. The Mal river will be the worst affected as many streams in its catchment will be destroyed and replaced by the tailings dam. That will impact the Mal River, the region's biggest river system and damage agriculture in Davao del Sur.

Kail Zingapan of Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), who worked with local indigenous communities to produce an impressive 3D map of the Koronadal Valley and the Tampakan watersheds, explained what the mining project would mean for the affected communities.

"This is the people's map, we did not invent this. The people showed us where their lands are located and we just plotted them in the map. We showed them the outcome and they saw that the mine development area covers their ancestral lands and it seems not all of them were consulted or correctly informed of the risks by SMI," she said.

People were shocked as Zingapan placed the supposed mine tailings dam area on top of the hill, and the fresh water dam right where Mal River is located. "This is your land, where you live and get your food and needs for everyday. It is up to you now if you want to see this land devastated and taken away from you or not," she said in Bisaya.

Environmental lawyer Ipat Luna, on the other hand, explained her legal evaluation of the EIS, "The EIS inadequately sets out the direct losses to be caused by the project and has gaps in terms of other legal permits and compliance. The Stakeholders' Development Framework fails to appreciate the unique cultural identity of the B'laan and merely enumerates standard social development interventions."

After the presentation of SMI's EIA and critique, Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel said, "No mining project will ever be good for us. Let us continue to support the South Cotabato Environmental Code that bans open pit mining." Bishop Gutierrez reiterated there is no need for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to review the said code.

"Unlike SMI/Xstrata who are here to get the approval of the people to mine their lands, the experts and nongovernmental organizations are here because the communities requested our help. We are here also because we believe that the claimed benefits of this mining project are clearly outweighed by the impact it will bring to water, agriculture, forests, biodiversity and communities."

Towards the end, SMI/Xstrata consultants found it hard to convince the people that their project will not impact negatively on many lives.

When asked, "What if the directly-affected people do not want to leave their lands," a SMI/Xstrata spokesperson answered, "If you the people do not want leave and resettle, then we do not have a project to talk about."

SMI's problem is that all the people who depend on the upland area for water will have to give their approval, not just the seven barangays on the top of the mountain.

As a result of the forum, Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. assured the people, that he will implement the Provincial Environmental Code Ordinance and that there will be no open-pit mining in the province unless there is an order from the Courts.

S. Cotabato governor vows to block open pit mining

By Aquiles Z. Zonio

Inquirer Mindanao

25 September 2011

KORONADAL City, Philippines-Governor Arthur Pingoy has vowed not to allow any open-pit mining operations in his province unless a court declares as illegal a landmark local legislation, which bans such a mining practice.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) here passed an ordinance banning open-pit mine in 2010.

Pingoy issued the statement on Friday during the conduct of the environmental impact assessment forum of the Tampakan Copper-Gold project of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI).

The provincial government requested SMI to hold the forum to further enlighten the local officials and residents about the project and how it would affect the people and the environment.

The provincial government also invited the diocese of Marbel led by Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez and other environment groups to express their views on the issue.

"I am determined to implement (the ordinance) that no open-pit mine will operate in the province unless the pertinent provision of the ordinance will be nullified by the proper court," Pingoy said.

Clive Wicks, who has 27 years of experience in engineering and agriculture and another 26 years of work in environmental protection, said during the forum that the SMI's "stakeholder and economic analysis, risk assessment and resettlement plans are badly flawed."

Wicks co-wrote with Dr. Robert Goodland a book published in 2009 titled "Philippines: Mining or Food?" The two are environmental consultants and members of the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines (WGMP).

Wicks asked the SMI whether, in its study, it came up with an estimated figure how many people in the mining area and downstream would die and how much was the estimated cost of the damage on agriculture and environment in case of a mining disaster.

Instead of giving an answer, Elvie Ganchero, SMI corporate community and sustainability department manager, assailed Wicks for raising such kind of question.

Wicks, however, said his question was legitimate and required a legitimate answer from the project proponent.

"It was a legitimate question and you should give us those data so the people will know the estimated cost of potential damage on people, agriculture and environment," Wicks said.

According to Wicks, there is no 100 percent damage-proof engineering design especially since the mining site lies on an identified fault line and since climate change has posed new risks to consider.

He even said Central Mindanao would have 20 percent less water in 20 years and this might worsen due to the destruction of the watershed in the mining area.

SMI plans to clear 3,935 hectares of forest, including identified old growth rainforest for the construction of an 800-meter deep and 500-hectare wide open-pit.

It has a 300-meter high and 500-hectare wide waste rock storage where an estimated 1.6 billion tons of toxic waste rock will be dumped.

Wicks said that the environmental impact study and assessment failed to explain why the toxic waste rock could not be stored in the mine pit itself instead of being placed in a dumpsite, which would increase the risks of cancer to surrounding communities.

SMI representatives allayed fears of the public, saying the company would employ engineering technology and mitigating measures based on international standards.

Tailings dam covering 1,300 hectares will be built to accommodate 1.1 billion of mine tailings.

Wicks said waste rock and tailings would have high arsenic content and might cause acid to reach a tributary of the Mal river, the region's biggest river system.

According to the British expert, the mine project violates Presidential Executive Order 23, which imposed a moratorium on the cutting of all natural and residual forests.

In a statement, Wicks said, "The mine will seriously undermine the government's plans for water supply, agriculture, irrigation and forestry."

Fr. Joy Pelinio, social action director of the diocese of Marbel, bared that the three dioceses of Kidapawan (North Cotabato), Digos (Davao del Sur) and Marbel (South Cotabato) have initiated a signature campaign against the Tampakan Copper-Gold project since last month.

"We are going to submit this to President Aquino to convince his administration to stop the mining project in the area," Pelinio said.

Pelinio said that if the mining operations were allowed, six major rivers would be affected, including Lake Buluan and Liguasan Marsh, which have been vital to the livelihood and survival of thousands of people in the region.

Buluan Lake alone produces fish worth US$100,000 per week, according to Pelinio.

Pelinio said they have gathered 80,000 signatures against mining operations from the three dioceses.

Their group, he said, has been targeting to gather 100,000 signatures and would file a petition with the Supreme Court for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan to stop the operation of SMI.

"Our legal team is closely studying right now the plan to file writ of kalikasan before the Supreme Court," he said.

Church groups gather 100K signatures vs mining firm

By Jeoffrey Maitem, Nico Alconaba

Inquirer Mindanao

19 September 2011

KORONADAL CITY, Philippines-Church groups have collected at least 100,000 signatures as proof that more people are against the planned large-scale mining of Xstrata's Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI).

Fr. Joy Peliño, director of the Social Action Center of the Marbel Diocese, said Sunday that based on the outcome of the signature campaign, more people are now aware and against the SMI operation.

He said the signatures were collected in South Cotabato and in the dioceses of Kidapawan, North Cotabato and Digos, Davao del Sur.

The mining project covers over 20,000 hectares of forest lands in the middle of a watershed area.

Lawyer Mario Maderazo, project officer of Philippine Misereor Partnership, a development agency of the Catholic Church based in Aachen, Germany, said if SMI commences its operation, water resources that are essential to people and agriculture, will be affected, leaving thousands of farmers and fishermen with no means to earn a living.

"It will damage four river systems comprising the province of South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Davao del Sur. They need huge amount of waters.

People are not aware of what will happen so we made a 3D map to show the extent of SMI mining," he said.

"We need a degree of precaution. We all know that once they contaminated the water, that's irreversible," he added.

He said the Philippines is one of the 18 mega diverse countries in the world with majority of plants and animals species unique and could not be found anywhere else. The country's species are among the world's top 10 in terms of endemism.

"Irrigation systems will be affected and, of course, the food production. Endemic species will eventually transfer but the point is that there are certain species that are prone to disturbance. The problem now is that there are species that have not been discovered yet in the area," the lawyer added.

Lawmakers in South Cotabato have passed a resolution banning open pit mining in the province. The ban, formulated by the provincial board early this year, was seen as the biggest stumbling block to the operation of Xstrata, through its subsidiary Sagittarius Mines Inc.

In an earlier interview in Pagadian City, Mark Williams, SMI general manager, said they would show the provincial board members that if approved, the firm"s operations would be environmentally sound.

"We will continue with our disclosure of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the board members," he told the Inquirer.

Williams said the province's Environmental Code, which bans open-pit mining in the province, is "at the moment" not a stumbling block to SMI's operations.

"But it remains a concern to us and we believe that through open dialogue and disclosure of our EIA, the plans, the mitigation measures, that people's concerns will be alleviated and that there will an appropriate change in the environmental code that will allow open-pit mining," Williams said.

Williams also said the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project would contribute some P134 Billion (GDP) to the country's economy.

"If approved, we believe the project can enable a better future for the people of Southern Mindanao, make significant contribution to the Philippines as a whole and establish a blue-print for large scale modern mineral development in the Philippines," he said.

Williams said the proposed mine is estimated "to yield an average of 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per annum over a 17-year mine life."

He also said over 10,000 workers will be employed "at the peak" of the construction phase of the project, while some 2,000 others will be hired if and when the firm starts operations.

Mining forum in Koronadal draws thousands; SMI GM a no-show

By Bong S. Sarmiento


23 September 2011

KORONADAL CITY - Thousands of people packed the South Cotabato gymnasium Friday for the public forum on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc.

The crowd, consisting mostly of anti-mining groups mobilized by the local Catholic Church, spilled outside as the estimated 6,000-capacity gymnasium could no longer accommodate them.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. organized the event in a bid to help members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan arrive at an "informed decision" regarding requests to amend the provincial environment code that bans open-pit mining.

Pingoy, who distributed wristbands with the words "I Love South Cotabato," reiterated he will implement the ban on open-pit mining unless the provincial board lifts it or if a court nullifies the ordinance.

Experts hired by the mining company presented a shortened version of the EIA, after they were given two-and-a-half hours, much longer than the time allotted to experts from the opposing side who were only given one-and-a-half hours.

Technical experts from the side of the company far outnumbered those from the opposing side, with Clive Wicks, co-author of the book "Philippines: Mining or Food," doing the presentation for the critics.

Wicks' co-author, Robert Goodland, who worked for the World Bank Group for 23 years as senior environmental advisor, was unable to make it reportedly due to financial constraints.

Wicks asserted that the mining project of SMI poses risk to the environment and food security, despite the mitigating measures presented by experts hired by the mining company.

"The [mining] project will damage agriculture, the lake downstream...and increases risk to flooding," he said.

At one point, Wicks asked how many people would die if the drainage system facility (DSF), which would be constructed in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, would overflow.

Company experts failed to provide a categorical answer, saying only that a complete DSF failure would lead water downstream to the Padada River in Davao del Sur.

But Elvie Grace Ganchero, SMI corporate community and sustainability department manager, gave assurances that catastrophic scenarios like that "won't happen as the company employs the highest mitigation standards."

She reiterated that open-pit mining is for now the only resort should the company decides to push the project through in 2016.

Ganchero also vowed they "will not push with the project" if the communities do not like it.

Mark Williams, SMI general manager, was not around during the public forum due to a "high-level representation," said John Arnaldo, SMI corporate communications manager.

Williams, who last year met with then governor and now Rep. Daisy Avance Fuentes in a bid to stop her from signing the environment code, was seen Wednesday in General Santos City.

Williams has been personally representing the company in national mining summits in Manila.

Speaking during the public forum, Diocese of Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez urged the public to continue supporting the environment code that bans open-pit mining.

"Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan need not change it," the bishop said.

Gutierrez thanked SMI for participating in the forum, but stressed that mining is a destructive industry. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

Gov Pingoy: Ban on open pit mine

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

23 September 2011

Unless the provincial environment code of South Cotabato is declared void and contrary to existing laws, Gov. Arthur Pingoy said that he is duty-bound to implement the landmark local legislation which bans open pit mining in the province.

"As a governor of this province, I will implement the ordinance that there will be no open pit mining in the province," the governor said before qualifying his statement.

The governor issued the statement at the closing of the public consultation held on Friday that had been organised by the local government unit.

Both the proponent of the multi-billion dollar Tampakan Copper and Gold Project and opposition to the project presented their respected arguments for and against the controversial US$5.9 billion mining venture.

Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), owner of the Copper and Gold Project, presented the results of its environment impact assessment (EIA) before a jam-packed crowd of close to 5,000 at the provincial gym. Hundreds of others waited and listened to loud speakers outside the gym.

Anti-mining groups led by the Catholic church also sent its own ‘environment and mining experts' who refuted the SMI's EIA, claiming a major disaster could spell the death of thousands of residents downstream along the major river systems where its mining operation are set to take place.

Rene Cruz, an engineer who was part of the team hired by SMI that conducted the study, was not able to immediately determine the extent of damage and the number of people who may perish from such a disaster when questioned by Clive Wicks, one of the resource persons of the Catholic church.

SMI is in the process of obtaining permits and licenses from government regulating bodies.

It is eyeing to commence commercial production of copper and gold ores in 2016.

In addition to ‘clearing' 3,965 hectares of arable and forested lands, SMI will also build a 400-megawatt coal-fired power plant, port facilities and a 40-kilometer pipeline conveyor system connecting the open pit mine in Tampakan, South Cotabato to Malalag in Davao del Sur where the company's berthing and offsite facilities will be located.

Gov. Pingoy, however, declined to say if his position is meant to challenge both the pro and anti mining groups to file cases in the regular courts questioning or clarifying the provision of the provincial environment code specifically banning the open pit mining method.

The governor said that unless ordered by the courts, he will have to deny any request by SMI for permits from the provincial government.

SMI manager for corporate community development, Elvie Granchera, who answered most of the questions hurled against SMI, declined to comment on the apparent legal challenge posed by Gov. Pingoy.

She said only John Arnaldo is allowed to answer questions from the press.

Arnaldo, SMI corporate communications manager, however did not answer calls made to his mobile phone.

He later sent a statement through short messaging system saying that they are grateful to the governor and members of the provincial board for the opportunity to present their EIA.

"We remain hopeful that the information shared will help the SP (provincial board) in considering the review of the ban on open pit mining," Arnaldo further said.

His team earlier declined a request for an interview with one of the scientists hired by SMI who conduct the EIA.

Company sources, however. said that SMI maintains it as a mere contractor and holder of the Columbio Financial Assistance Agreement (FTAA) which covered the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

In effect, company officials are banking on the national government to be the one to question the constitutionality of the provincial environment code.

South Cotabato provincial board member, Cecil Diel, said they are open to a review not only of the ban on open pit mining but also other provisions of the controversial ordinance.

But Diel added that she remains against the said mining method.

She likewise vehemently protested an earlier administrative order issued by local government secretary, Jesse Robredo, ordering the provincial board to review the code.

The environment code was passed and signed by the previous local administration of former Gov. Daisy Fuentes (now a member of the House of Representatives).

Signing the code was among the last official acts of Fuentes who is opposed to a review of the landmark local legislation this early.

Filipino environmentalists oppose mining in Mindanao

Mindanao Examiner

17 September 2011

Manila, Philippines - Filipino mining activists and tribesmen have renewed calls for the government to put a stop to mining activities in Mindanao because of its destructive effect on the environment.

They also staged a rally - which coincided with the International Mining Conference and Exhibition hosted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines at the Sofitel Hotel- to dramatize their protest against the $5.2-billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), saying it will only worsen the lives of the people of Tampakan town in South Cotabato province.

SMI said its project will improve lives and give sustainable benefits to communities.

"We do not believe SMI and the national government when they say that the $5.2-billion direct investments will be good for the Philippine economy if we are to look at the impacts of this mining project to communities," said Rene Pamplona, representative of the Diocese of Marbel in South Cotabato (SAC-Marbel).

"First, the earning from minerals that will be taken from our lands will not directly benefit the country. Second, the grave impacts of mining operations to the environment and water resources of four provinces. Third, the inevitable impact to the livelihoods of local residents and lastly, the FTAA literally takes away the ancestral lands of B'laans. We also cannot discount the fact that social ills caused by these happening," he added.

FTAA refers to Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement.

The Xstrata-SMI Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement covers 23,571 hectares in four provinces - South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Sarangani. A total of 10,000 hectares will be directly impacted by the mining operations.

Expert studies of the SMI draft Environmental Impact Statement for the mining project found that the mining project will result in extensive physical disturbance of forest lands, including old growth forests, threat water resources of four provinces, and further bring about tribal conflicts.

Judy Pasimio, executive director of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center - Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK/FOEI), said: "While Xstrata-SMI is bragging that they will pour in more than $5 billion of investments, but they will actually pollute approximately 7 billion liters of fresh water that is currently being used by communities, both upland and lowland in three provinces for domestic and agricultural use, including the approximately 5,000 thousand farmers and irrigators of South Cotabato that are dependent on these waters."

The mining operations overlap with four ancestral domains, Pasimio said.

Activists said proponents of the Tampakan mining project are now lobbying the Office of the President and the Department of Interior and Local Government to suspend the provision of the South Cotabato Provincial Environmental Code that bans open pit mining in the area-a move that will undermine the law passed by the local government in June 2010.

Mining firm officer's slay, work-related: police

By Ivy C. Tejano

Sun Star Davao

18 September 2011

POLICE have theorized that the killing of an executive of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) could be work-related.

Cristituto Gayamot Bual, 53, SMI's offsite land acquisition superintendent and resident of Central Park Subdivision in Bangkal, Davao City was shot dead while jogging with his wife Melanie at around 5:30 a.m. on Friday.

Superintendent Jose C. Carumba, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office in Davao Region, said based on the report of the investigators of Talomo police, there is a possibility that the victim was killed due to his work.

"I've talked to the investigators kanina (Saturday) and sabi nila may mga ilang angulo silang tinitignan. But as of now, dito muna sila nakatuon sa trabaho nung biktima," Carumba said. [They are working on all angles. But as of now, they are first looking at the work links]

Various sectors have expressed opposition to the operation of the foreign-backed mining company, with a base camp in Tampakan, South Cotabatao, but straddles through the towns of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Tampakan in South Cotabato and Malungon in Sarangani.

The base camp had been a target of attacks by the New People's Army in the past.

Carumba said the Talomo police is still conducting further investigation on the incident to identity the suspect and the motive of the incident.

Police investigation showed that the victim was shot three times by one of the two men onboard a black Honda Wave with no plate number. Bual was hit in the head and died on the spot while his attackers immediately fled.

The victim was brought to the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes, while his wife suffered cardiac arrest and is presently undergoing treatment at a local hospital.

The gunman is described to be around 5'7" tall, with slim built, and was wearing camouflage uniform and cap.

Recovered from the crime scene were two empty shells of a caliber .45 gun believed to be used by the gunman.

Statement on the death of Cris Bual

Ka Dencio Madrigal

Valentin Palamine Command, NPA-Far South Mindanao

22 September 2011

The Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command categorically denies having anything to do with the death of Cristituto Bual, SMI-Xstrata, offsite land acquisition superintendent of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) who was slain by a motorcycle-riding gunman near his home in Davao City in broad daylight on September 16, 2011.

Cristituto Bual was not in the NPA's Order of Battle nor was he in the list of those tried in the People's Court for collusion with a multinational company in the unconscionable plunder of our natural resources and the degradation of our ecology. He was a junior officer who facilitated the acquisition of vast tracts of land in the coastal area of Malalag in Malalag, Davao del Sur for the company's port and power facilities.

Initial reports from reliable sources have reached us that Bual was killed on orders from Xstrata-SMI for his failure to "deal properly" with certain influential people within Bual's area of jurisdiction. He had purportedly bungled up SMI's bid to lord it over Malalag town in preparation for the company's projected infrastructures along Malalag Bay. SMI has been trying to acquire at least a hundred hectares in three coastal barangays of Malalag where it plans to build its port, filter plant and its 317 megawatt coal fired power station.

While the motive of Mr Bual's slaying has yet to be fully uncovered, and the suspected killers are apprehended (if at all), his violent death goes to show that wherever SMI- Xstrata is, dissent and discontent arise. This includes not only the untimely demise of so many people, but the dislocation of entire communities to give way to the most destructive of industries -- large scale open pit mining.

Gold and copper is only what SMI-Xstrata truly cares about, not people. Not even their own people.

As part of our commitment to defend the land and the masses, especially the lumads, the New People's Army -- FSMR shall continue to monitor and document events related to Xstrata-SMI and will do its utmost to meet the people's demand for revolutionary justice.

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