MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Human rights project at Tampakan questions the project's future

Published by MAC on 2013-06-21
Source: Statements, Manila Times, Rappler, Mindanews (2013-06-20)

European NGOs have released a human rights impact assessment on Glencore Xstrata's Tampakan project. It stresses that the company has shown "insufficient respect for the rights of the affected population". As one representative notes, "a mix of government failure, a poor and marginalised population, and armed conflicts are the worst possible preconditions for operating an open-cast mine of these dimensions."

In the meantime, as Glencore considers whether it will continue with this project -  regardless of these problems, plus local government hostility - powerful Philippine investors are holding onto their shares.

In Mindoro Oriental, the Provincial Government has won a court battle not to accept fees from Intex Resources, given their long-standing opposition to the project. The company has ignored the Provincial Government's 25-year moratorium on mining, but this decision creates further questions on the legality of the project.

Local indigenous communities continue to set up barricades against companies, with new ones springing up against Royalco in Nueva Vizcaya and Adnama Mining Resources Incorporated (AMRI) in Surigao del Norte.

Also in Surigao del Norte, the Government has suspended Red 5's Siana mine after problems with its tailings (see Philippines: Same problems, new mine) and has fined Platinum Group Metals Corp. for environmental violations.

In a further example of laws actually being implemented the government has stopped the operations of three Chinese companies engaged in magnetite sand mining and processing for allegedly operating in prohibited areas.

On the island of Negros, Philex Mining has suspended its own drilling activities because of attacks by the Communist New People's Army. In the Cordillera, the same company has asked for more time to continue production in order to repair its damaged tailings facilities.

Despite this catalogue of woes, the government and industry were celebrating that the country has been accepted as a candidate for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). It will be interesting to see what positive effect such transparency will have on the events listed above. Will it support local government units or communities struggling to assert their right to decide their own futures, and if so how?

NGOs slam Glencore Xstrata over mining project

Swissinfo.ch

13 June 2013

Swiss and German non-governmental organisations have criticised Swiss-based mining giant Glencore Xstrata over a huge planned mining project in the Philippines.

In a report released in Zurich on Wednesday, the NGOs said that the company, based in Zug, was showing "insufficient respect for the rights of the affected population" in its plans for the copper and gold open-pit mine, and called on the Swiss government to take action.

The report, Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, was commissioned by three Swiss and German non-governmental organisations - MISEREOR, the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and Bread for All - and carried out by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF), based at Duisburg-Essen University in Germany.

The $5.9 billion (CHF5.4 billion) Tampakan Copper-Gold Project is currently under development on the Philippine island of Mindanao, and would be one of the world's largest open-pit mines, comprising 28,000 hectares of land and yielding an estimated 360,000 ounces of gold and 375,000 tons of copper per year. The mine is planned to go into operation in 2019.

According to the INEF study, the "human rights to self-determination of indigenous peoples, to food, water, health, life and physical integrity are at stake". The project would require the destruction of large pristine forests, pose a serious risk to the local water supply, and require the resettlement of approximately 5,000 indigenous people, it said. In addition, military and paramilitary groups are being sent to protect foreign investment in the region, which is known for having a history of conflict. Tensions are rising in the region, the NGOs said.

Lack of balance

Glencore Xstrata owns, through its Australian Xstrata subsidiary, XstrataCopper, 62.5 per cent of the Philippine Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), which is the Philippine government contractor for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project.

SMI said in a statement released on Wednesday that it is "deeply concerned by the lack of balance and objectivity of the HRIA [Human Rights Impact Assessment]. SMI's perspective is typically not presented in detail, nor sought in response to some of the numerous claims made against the company...."

According to SMI, the sources interviewed for the report are one-sided, statements from interviews are not clearly attributed, and the project is being unfairly blamed for violence in the region, which has a "long and complex history of conflict... associated with traditional customs, clan rivalries, religious and political insurgencies and internationally recognised terrorist groups...."

SMI said it had participated in the interview process and had provided INEF with information in good faith. The company urged INEF to revise its report to address the issues it had raised.

For their part, the three aid organisations said in a statement that they were calling on the SMI and the Philippines government to "enter into an honest dialogue with the people concerned - that could even lead to dropping the project". They said that the Swiss government should also take action and introduce binding standards for Swiss companies over human rights.

Tightening transparency rules

The criticisms come at a time of scrutiny over transparency issues. Following on the heels of a government inquiry and white paper in March, the Swiss House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to ask the Swiss Cabinet to examine a draft law proposing legally binding transparency measures for the commodities sector.

"The cabinet accepts the proposal, as it is formulated, and will now consider transparency rules for the whole sector, meaning for listed and non-listed commodity companies as well as for commodity trading and extractive activities," announced Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.

And on Wednesday the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed legislation which would require European oil, gas and mining companies to report payments of more than €100,000 (CHF123,000) made to governments in the countries in which they operate. This would include reporting of taxes levied on their income, production or profits, royalties, and licence fees.

The legislation would not apply to Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union.

Disclosure rules were also adopted in the United States in 2012 with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. And tax, trade and transparency will be the focus of the G8 summit to be chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron in Ireland next week.


An Xstrata mine threatens human rights in the Philippines

Fastenopfer, MISEREOR and Bread for All press release

12 June 2013

Lucerne/Berne/Aachen - The Zug-based group Glencore-Xstrata is showing insufficient respect for the rights of the affected population with its plans to exploit one of the world's biggest open-pit mines in the Philippines. Because the project threatens the livelihood of tens of thousands of people, tensions are rising and the first deaths have occurred. That is shown by a study commissioned by the Fastenopfer, MISEREOR and Bread for All. The Swiss government is now challenged to act.

Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), a subsidiary of the Zug-based giant Xstrata group, that has merged with Glencore, plans to exploit the biggest copper and gold mine in Asia in Tampakan, Philippines. "About 5,000 indigenous people would be relocated and their traditional land destroyed. The mine would also threaten the water supply of tens of thousands of people," says Father Joy Pelino, the director of the Social Action Center of Marbel diocese, who opposes the project. The area is politically unstable and violence is increasing: already, eight people have been killed in the context of the project. The powder keg is about to explode.

A study conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) shows that SMI has contravened its obligation of due diligence. The UN's Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights state that companies are responsible for respecting human rights worldwide. Precisely in such an area of conflict they must conduct prior, detailed investigations of the effect of their activities on human rights. For Daniel Hostettler, human rights expert of Fastenopfer, one thing is clear: "A mix of government failure, a poor and marginalised population, and armed conflicts are the worst possible preconditions for operating an open-cast mine of these dimensions." The INEF study therefore concludes: "It seems today that conducting the mine project will not be possible without a serious impact on human rights."

The aid organisations Fastenopfer, MISEREOR and Bread for All are calling upon SMI and the Philippines government to enter into an honest dialogue with the people concerned - that could even lead to dropping the project. "The rights of the indigenous population to freely decide on the operating of mining projects in their territory must be respected," asserts Elisabeth Strohscheidt, development policy expert from MISEREOR. The Swiss federal government should also take action: the rights without borders campaign calls for legislation so that due diligence becomes a binding standard for corporations. The Tampakan example shows that voluntary standards alone are not enough. Beat Dietschy, general secretary of Bread for All, declares: "Swiss companies have to respect all human rights, all over the world."

Opposition to the Tampakan project also comes from Basel Bishop Felix Gmür. The president designate of the foundation council of Lenten Fund has been to the Philippines and seen with his own eyes how "people's dignity and rights are being trampled underfoot and there is ruthless plundering of creation." For him it is quite clear: "From a Christian perspective, striving for profit must not override the fundamental rights of the population."

To download the report go to:- http://www.fastenopfer.org/sites/content/news.html?view=details&id=1400


MVP, San Miguel in wait and see mode on Tampakan

Rappler.com

17 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Two of the country's biggest conglomerates are in a wait-and-see mode on their minority stakes in the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in Mindanao following the ownership changes at the stalled gold and copper mine project.

Both Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ramon Ang, respectively speaking in behalf of Philex Mines Corp and San Miguel Corp., said they will hold on to the stakes in Sagittarius Mines Inc., the mining operator.

"Our indirect ownership of SMI is very small, but there are no plans to sell it or expand the ownership at the moment kasi impression namin nakabinbin pa ang project (our impression is the project is still hanging in the balance)," Pangilinan told reporters after the annual stockholders meeting of giant PLDT, which he chairs, on Friday, June 14.

"Hold lang muna (we'll hold on to it)," Ang told reporters after San Miguel's stockholders meeting on Tuesday, June 11. Ang is the president and COO of the country's biggest business group.

Philex has a 1.3% stake in Indophil, while San Miguel subsidiary Coastal View Exploration Corp. has about 3.99%. The Alsons group holds 20% of Indophil, while SM group also has minority stake.

Australian-controlled Indophil Resources Philippines and its Swiss global partner Xstrata hold 67.5% of Sagittarius Mines Inc.

Ownership changes

Questions about how the top local conglomerates will proceed with their stakes in the world class mining project arose after global commodities giant Glencore International acquired and took over Swiss miner Xstrata Plc in May.

The Glencore acquisition of Xstrata created a US$75 billion merged company, the world's 4th largest diversified mining company.

A management shake-up has started at Sagittarius Mines, and further delays are seen as merger issues emerge.

"We do not know what Glencore's plans are and we don't know what the stakes are involved," Pangilinan also added in a press conference following his speech at the annual stockholders meeting of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Friday.

Possible sale of Sagittarius as a result of the takeover was averted after Glencore agreed to sell its stakes at the Las Bambas copper project in Peru. It was one of the conditions laid down by China as the latter feared the growing influence of the merged companies in the world copper production and trading.

Glencore and Xstrata are publicly listed and investors are eagerly watching developments in the merger-takeover.

Pangilinan said his group is now pre-occupied with its ongoing mining operations in Baguio and in Surigao del Norte.

Local permit

Pangilinan said it would be a waste if Sagittarius cannot operate the gold and copper mine because of problems in obtaining permits for open pit mining from the local government of South Cotabato.

"Sayang. It is a world class project," Pangilinan said.

Although Sagittarius was already issued environmental compliance certificate (ECC), it still needs to obtain approval from the provincial government.

Governor-elect Daisy Avance-Fuentes has repeatedly indicated that the provincial environment code will stay.

In 2010, the South Cotabato provincial board passed an ordinance banning open pit mining in the province.

Fuentes signed the ordinance just weeks before she stepped down to take her oath as member of the House of Representative.

Fuentes reclaimed her post as governor in a tightly 3-cornered contested race against defeated Gov. Arthur Pingoy and former Koronadal mayor Fernando Miguel.

The $5.9-billion Tampakan project is considered the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposit in this part of the world.

The Tampakan copper and gold mine is said to contain 13.9 million metric tons of copper and 16.2 million ounces of gold. The mine is expected to add 1% to the country's gross domestic product per year once it starts operating. - with reports from Edwin Espejo/Rappler.com


Maintaining the province's 25-year mining moratorium Or. Mindoro judge dismisses a mining company's petition to force an LGU to receive their rental fees

By Juancho R. Mahusay

Mindoro Star

1 June 2013

CALAPAN CITY - A regional trial court in Oriental Mindoro has dismissed the petition of a foreign-owned mining company to compel a municipal treasurer to receive the occupation fees the said private firm is bent on paying to justify or legitimize the latter's continuing mining explorations in the said town and its stay in the province.

In a decision recently issued by Presiding Judge Tomas Leynes, of RTC Branch 40 of this city, regarding the Civil Case No. CV-11-6353, it stated that Municipal Treasurer Juana Abante, of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, has the entire legal basis in not accepting the occupation fees being paid by the Norwegian-owned Aglubang Mining Corporation (AMC) to comply with the said company's Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for a period of five years which amounted to a total ofP816,900.

The AMC's MPSA, a sort of a government permit which allows a particular mining company to explore a certain mineral deposits in a given area, covered a period of 2008 to 2012 in the mountains of Brgy. Villa Cerveza in Victoria town, said province. Once the occupation fees being paid by the company are received by the municipal treasurer, this is tantamount for an official approval by the said LGU for the AMC to excavate and mine in their area.

However, the municipal government of Victoria, led by re-elected Mayor Alfredo Ortega, Jr., maintains its anti-mining stance and upholds the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro's ordinance for a 25-year large-scale mining moratorium.

It can be noted that under the existing Provincial Ordinance No. 001-2002, which declares a 25-year mining moratorium on all forms of mining in the province of Oriental Mindoro, and provides the related exceptions and penalties there, large-scale mining or extraction in all forms is strictly being banned here. In particular, AMC's operations in the said municipality are accordingly covered by the same local laws.

Judge Leynes, in his decision which was disseminated to newsmen here over the weekend, cited a particular section in the provincial ordinance which states that "It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to engage in land clearing, prospecting, exploration, drilling, excavation, mining, transport of mineral ores and such other activities in furtherance of/and/or preparatory to all forms of mining operations (within Oriental Mindoro) for a period of 25-years."

For his part, Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. stated the continued effect or implementation of the 25-year Mining Moratorium Ordinance is a clear and concrete manifestation of his provincial administration's strong position to protect and preserve the environment and its natural resources while promoting the future and lives of all Mindoreños.


Mamanwa Lumads barricade mining firm in Surigao Norte

By Roel Catoto

Mindanews

15 June 2013

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/15 June) - A mining company in Claver town in Surigao del Norte has been forced to suspend operations after some 150 members of the Mamanwa tribe today put up a barricade against it for alleged non-payment of royalty amounting to P30 million.

Datu Reynante Buklas, one of the Mamanwa chieftains told MindaNews in a phone interview that they are barricading the Adnama Mining Resources Incorporated (AMRI) in Barangay Urbiztondo where the firm operates.

Buklas said AMRI has failed to pay royalty to the tribe, which holds the ancestral domain title to the area.

He said that AMRI, which has been mining nickel ore in the area and exporting it to China, has not paid them since last year forcing them to stage the barricade.

"We are deprived of this share and we feel being abused by this mining company," Buklas said in the vernacular.

Section 7-b of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 entitles indigenous peoples to "negotiate the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural resources in the areas for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environmental protection and the conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws..."

Four firms are currently operating in Claver - the Taganito Mining Corporation, Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation which is now operated by AMRI, Platinum Group Mining Company and Taganito High-Pressure Acid Leach Nickel Corporation.

The 48,678-hectare mining areas in barangays Taganito and Urbiztondo are covered by a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.

MindaNews tried to contact AMRI officials to get their statement but no to avail.

Buklas said they will continue to barricade until their demand is met, adding more tribe members from different communities will be joining them today and tomorrow.

He said the barricade has forced the company to suspend its operations.

Lt. Col. Vincent Iringan, commander of the 30th Infantry Battalion based in Bad-as, Placer in Surigao del Norte said he was monitoring the barricade and coordinating with the Claver police station to ensure "that no violence will occur in that area."

"My men initially talked to some datus today and they assured us that they won't do any violence in the area," he added. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)


People's barricade to defy Royalco mining's TRO, government soldiers

Joint forces of the Philippine Army and the PNP have reportedly tried to dismantle the barricade in serving the TRO against the local leaders, but they have been foiled by "the strong and organized resistance of the people."

By Marya Salamat

Bulatlat.com

20 June 2013

MANILA - Locals opposed to mining in Nueva Vizcaya are threatened anew starting this week, said the environmentalist group Kalikasan-PNE. The group shared that the mining firm Royalco Philippines, Inc, whose mining project has encountered stiff local opposition at every turn, has recently filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). It named 10 local leaders who led in setting up and maintaining at least four separate barricades in two upland towns of Nueva Vizcaya namely Kasibu and Dupax Del Norte.

With the TRO, Kalikasan-PNE warned that the mining exploration company is hoping to threaten the people's resolve against mining in the Nueva Vizcaya.

The 10 leaders named in the mining company's TRO are anti-mining local leaders who have "boldly led their constituents" in campaigns since 2006 to stop the mining companies led by Royalco Resources Limited, an Australian based exploration company, Kalikasan-PNE said in a statement.

Royalco has been using the name of Royalco Philippines Inc. and Buena Suerte Mining Company in its operation. It secured an exploration permit from the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences for Nueva Vizcaya. The presence of the two mining companies is reportedly being felt in three villages of the town of Kasibu, namely Muta, Pao and Kakiduguen; in three villages of the town of Dupax Del Norte namely Binuangan, Giayan and Yabbi, and three villages of the town of Nagtipunan of the province of Quirino namely Keat, Giayan and Mataddi.

Village Captain Santos Yonga-an, one of the two defendants of a separate TRO case against their barricades in Pacquet and Katarawan villages Kasibu town, said: "There is nothing new with what the mining companies are doing as they are authorized by the state through RA 7942 popularly known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The same thing was done to us by Royalco Resources Ltd. when we set up the barricade in 2006, (but) we are unfazed. No amount of threats, harassments or bribery has weakened the people's stance on mining as proven by our organization KIRED (Kasibu Intertribal Response for Ecological Development). We remain resolute that's why our barricades in Kasibu remain to be there".

With roads strictly guarded by locals of Kasibu, explorations are made difficult compelling the mining companies to force an alternate route via Dupax del Norte. Such move was opposed also by residents there. Two separate barricades were set up - the first on May 9 at Binuangan of Dupax Del Norte and the second last May 20 in village Mataddi, Dupax Del Norte.

From then on the two new barricades have reportedly been well maintained and led by the local organizations AUBD (Alliance of Upland Baranggay for Sustainable Development) and ALMUSEGAM (Alliance of Multisectoral Groups Against Mining) comprising 14 upland Baranggays from Dupax Del Norte and Del Sur including nearby villages of Quirino. The other two previously set barricades are at the municipality of Kasibu led by KIRED which covers 6 villages.

Costly mining

According to Royalco, the setting up of these barricades had cost it P2 million ( $48.7 thousand) in losses as they are prevented from delivering supplies, equipment, personnel in Pao Kasibu village, plus payments to their legal counsel amounting to P150,000 ($3,658) per appearance in court, and other incurred expenses related to the cases filed.

Kalikasan-PNE said the people of Kasibu including those from Dupax Del Sur and Norte have consistently sought all legal means to prevent mining companies from intruding into their land. Most recent of which was a hearing called for by the provincial board of Nueva Vizcaya on May 6, after a complaint was filed by the people of village Yabbi, Dupax Del Norte regarding the intrusion of Royalco Philippines Inc into their town, in spite of the people's clear stance on mining as manifested in their numerous resolutions and petitions.

From the said hearing, the Provincial Board reportedly assured those present that they will temporarily suspend the operation of Royalco mining company until the people's complaints are addressed. But to this day, the people are still waiting for its fulfillment, Kalikasan-PNE said.

Last May 15, Oceana Gold, another of several foreign companies that had gained permits to mine the province, reportedly formally launched its mining operation in Nueva Vizcaya. The company's mining had reportedly been based largely in Quezon. Oceana Gold's launch was held "with grandeur," and it reportedly "insulted the residents by inviting even anti-mining personalities."

The event was described by Bishop Ramon Villena, the Bishop of the Diocese of Bayombong, as the "opening of destruction of Nueva Vizcaya."

Kalikasan said Bishop Villena's statement immediately proved true, as the mining companies reportedly employ the state's armed troops to protect their interest at the expense of the people's safety and welfare. Last June 11, truckloads of soldiers from the Phil. Army, approximately 300 from the 86th IB of the 5th ID, arrived in Giayan village, "sowing fear among the residents."

The following day, soldiers reportedly threatened to enter and search the houses of the Bugkalots who are the dominant indigenous peoples in the area, even without search warrants. But the soldiers were prevented by the people through their strong resistance, as led by their tribal chieftain, the Kalikasan-PNE reported.

Joint forces of the Philippine Army and the PNP have reportedly tried to dismantle the barricade in serving the TRO against the local leaders, but they have been foiled by "the strong and organized resistance of the people," said Mrs. Paz Balinggan, one of the defendants of the TRO and chairperson of ALMUSEGAM.

Balinggan explained that "These barricades that we set up against the foreign mining companies are for defending our land which is the source of life not just for us but also for our children, the next generation."

She urged the public to remember their friends from Runruno, Quezon, "who are still in jail due to their resistance against FCF Minerals Corporations. Also, the leader who died from Didipio, Kasibu due to her anti-mining stance at Oceana Gold Philippines Inc.'s operations." She said all these only prove that they are fighting the same struggle against destructive large-scale mining operation. (http://bulatlat.com)


Mining in Nueva Vizcaya in full swing

By Artemio Dumlao

Phililppine Star

13 June 2013

BAGUIO City, Philippines - Despite protests, commercial mining operation is now in full swing in the upland Didipio in Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya.

Oceana Gold Philippines (OGPI) officials have formally declared that the gold and copper project, which is being protested for alleged offenses against indigenous peoples' rights, has reached the commercial production stage.

The plant has so far produced 7,251 ounces of gold and 3,866 tons of copper during the first three months of the year, which is on-target with the projected annual production rate of 2.5 million tones after its date of commercial production on April 1.

Mick Wilkes, OGPI's chief executive director and managing director, said they had shipped their first concentrate from the San Fernando Port, La Union and the second shipment is imminent.

"Commissioning of Didipio continues to advance well and we are beginning to realize the positive cash flow from the operation having made one shipment in early April and the next shipment expected soon," Wilkes said.

More than 13,000 tons of copper-gold concentrate is in storage in Didipio and at the port and mining activities continue to perform well with a large inventory of ore on the ROM pad, the private mining firm's official said.

"Our transformation into a multi-national producer with lower costs continues to progress as planned," Wilkes said.


Govt stops operations of 3 black sand mining firms in Ilocos Sur

GMA Network

11 June 2013

The government has stopped the operations of three Chinese companies engaged in magnetite sand mining and processing for allegedly operating in prohibited areas.

Covered by the cease and desist order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Burea are Yinyi Philippines Investment Holding Group, Inc., An Bang Mining Company, and Hong Ze Mining Corporation.

The three were allegedly operating along the beaches of San Vicente town in Ilocos Sur.

Engr. Carlos A. Tayag, MGB regional director in Region 1, said mining activities are not allowed along shorelines.

The MGB issued a CDO against Yinyi Philippines Investment Holding Group, Inc. and An Bang Mining Company for allegedly operating in prohibited areas, while Hong Ze Mining Corporation, although it holds a Mineral Processing Permit, has been mining within the 200-meter onshore area that is closed to mining activities.

To prevent the transport of magnetite sand coming from San Vicente, the MGB will refrain from issuing a mineral ore export permit for the black sand mined by the three companies.

The three firms face charges of mineral theft and illegal mining. - KBK, GMA News


MGB suspends Surigao Norte firm's mineral processing

Rappler.com

10 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has temporarily stopped the mineral processing operations of a Surigao del Norte gold miner after a crack was discovered in its tailings storage facility.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno issued June 6 a cease and desist order against Greenstone Resources Corp. after the MGB Regional Office XIII reported that it found a "tension crack" along the embankment of the tailings storage facility of the company's mine in the municipality of Tubod.

Because of the imminent danger posed by the situation, MGB ordered Greenstone to immediately stop gold ore mineral processing in the contract area under Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement No. 184-2002-XIII.

The agency ordered Greenstone's mineral processing suspended until remedial measures are instituted.

These measures should be certified by a third-party expert and validated by the Environmental Management Bureau.

The company should also submit a report on the remedial measures undertaken within 3 days of receipt of the order and every week thereafter until the stability and integrity of the tailings facility is restored.

Greenstone operates the Sianna gold project in the municipalities of Tubod and Mainit.

Red 5 Ltd. of Australia, through Greenstone, holds a 90% beneficial interest in the project.

The Siana gold project was commissioned last year. It is expected to produce a minimum of 849,000 ounces of gold at a cash cost of $400 per ounce over a 10-year life.

Jasareno said the exact cause of the tension crack is yet to be determined. A penalty would be imposed on Greenstone after the investigation, he added. - Rappler.com


Mining firm faces charges for violation of environmental laws

Written by Joel R. San Juan

Business Mirror

2 June 2013

A MINING firm operating in Surigao del Norte is now facing criminal charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for alleged violations of environmental laws.

The complaint for the violation of Republic Act (RA) 7942 (Philippine Mining Act) and RA 9275 (Philippine Clean Water Act) was filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against the incorporators and officers of Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC).

The NBI said the PGMC has committed mining malpractice that posed grave threat to ecological habitat and communities near its site in Cagdianao, Claver town.

In its report following an ocular inspection in April, the NBI said the ore-mining firm had failed to rehabilitate the site.

As proof, the NBI submitted photos of "uprooted trees on the mountainside being operated by PGMC, soil erosion and unrehabilitated mining areas."

Named respondents in the charge sheet were Chinese executives of the firm from Hong Kong-chairman Lin Ou Wen and directors Lin Zheng, Lin Qing Ping and Lin Hui. Its president, Joseph Sy, and vice chairman, Rafael Atayde, were also charged.

The NBI also sought indictment of four other incorporators of the Makati City-based PGMC Nickel Corp.-Ceferino Paredes Jr., Dante Bravo, Cymbelly de los Santos and Mindy Guevarra.

The NBI had summoned the executives of the PGMC during its initial probe but failed to show up.

However, they submitted a reply letter, saying the allegations stemmed from a blatant attempt of another firm, Case Mining and Development Corp. (CMDC), to gain leverage in an ongoing commercial negotiation.

CMDC alleged the siltation in the mining site has posed danger to the environment and nearby communities and that PGMC has also failed to remit to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples its royalty dues in favor of the Mamanwa and Manobo tribes in the affected areas.

It said these findings of environmental violations were already established in a multi-disciplinary team report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in March 2012.

The respondents said they have all the necessary permits for nickel exploration and development in the areas and alleged that CMDC has "money claim" against them as they vowed to disprove the charges in the preliminary investigation.

The NBI decided to elevate the case to the DOJ for preliminary investigation where all the parties can present their evidence for proper evaluation.


Philex suspends drilling in Negros Occidental

ABS-CBNnews.com

17 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining suspended drilling activities at its facilities in Negros Occidental, after continued attacks by the New People's Army rebels.

Philex Mining corporate communications manager Rochelle Hilario said the company decided to suspend the drilling activities in order to ensure the safety of their geologists following a rebel attack.

Philex's operations in Negros Occidental has been suspended for 10 years, but other maintenance programs continue in the area.

303rd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Jon Aying said the Army is doing everything it can to protect the community and companies like Philex Mining.

In May, five soldiers died after responding to an NPA attack on one of the facilities of Philex in Sipalay City. - With report from Romeo Subal, ABS-CBN Negros Occidental


Philex asks for more time to repair tailings pond

Written by Madelaine Cabrera

Malaya Business News

17 June 2013

PADCAL, Benguet -- Philex Mining Corp., plans to ask the government to allow it to continue mining operations in Padcal to make the tailings pond safer.

Philex vice president for operations and Padcal mine resident manager Libby Ricafort said that as of mid this month, the last in the four months it has been allowed to operate, it still has not produced the 3.5 million tons fresh tailings needed to fill the void in tailings pond.

The void, sinkhole, as the company likes to call it needs to be filled up to make the main and offset dikes and embankment safer, Ricafort said.

He added that the company cannot also finish by July 8, the deadline set by government, to raise the elevation of the Tailings Storage Facility No.3 (TSF3) from the current 584 meters to the required minimum of 592 meters above sea level.

"We really need additional time. It is very clear that there is still so much work to be done, even if we are already operating 24/7. Because as the tailings pond gets higher, the surface which needs to be filled up gets wider, hence, more sediments needs to be produced, " he said.

TSF 3 at the Padcal mine needs 3.5 million tons of fresh tailings to fill up the conical void and create a beach at the pond to appease fears of water seeping into the area, weakening anew the defective mine receptacle.

To date, Philex has processed only 2.4 million tons.

Currently, Padcal is producing 26,000 tons of tailings daily at a cost of P600 per ton.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) allowed Philex to operate for four months beginning March in a bid to collect tailings to fill tailings pond 3 before the onset of the rainy season in an effort to stabilize the area in time for the onslaught of the wet or rainy season.

The filling and beaching process would push the accumulated water away from the pond's embankment and into an open spillway.

The construction of the P327 million two-chute spillway is still under way, with the first chute already finished and the second chute expected to be completed by June 20.

Once completed, the spillway can channel as much as 1,000 millimeters of rain over a 24-hour period.

Philex has shown progress in its clean-up measures along Balog Creek and is also preparing rehabilitation works in its convergence with the Agno river.

To restore the natural condition of the Balog Creek, the company has engaged a company specializing in the breeding and use of Vertiver grass that thrives in highly mineralized soil.

Vertiver is used to prevent soil erosion because of its long roots and as a water conservation tool because of its ability to absorb pollutants in soil and water.


Global boost for Philippine mining sector

by Glenn Gale

Manila Times

30 May 2013

ALMOST unheralded, the Philippines mining sector got a major boost last week when it achieved candidacy status with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which works to increase transparency of payments made in the oil, gas and mining industries.

Pushing hard for the Philippines was Australia which is one of the world's leading mining nations, with quite a few of its mining companies having operations in the Philippines

Nobody could be more delighted by this latest positive development than Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell who said: "I congratulate the Philippines for their hard work in applying to join the EITI. This shows a welcome commitment by the Philippines to improve transparency in its mining sector."

The ambassador added: "By achieving EITI candidacy, the Philippines can build confidence among communities and businesses in the extractive industries. This is a positive step toward developing the mining sector in the Philippines in an open and transparent way. I'm proud that Australia was able to support the Philippines in its application to join EITI."

Australia supported the Philippine government's candidature for the EITI, as part of efforts to improve transparency and governance within the Philippines mining sector. The Philippines EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group, which the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) helped to establish, has been tasked to oversee the implementation of the global EITI transparency standards in the Philippines.

In addition, Australia contributed over P1 million (A$25,000) to the Filipino nongovernment organization Bantay Kita to facilitate community and civil society in consultations on the Philippines' candidacy for the EITI.

Australia also supported the participation of a high level delegation from the Philippines in the recent Mining for Development and EITI conferences.

As an EITI candidate country, the Philippines must now disclose all payments made in its mining sector, and meet a series of strict requirements in the EITI standard in order to become fully EITI compliant.

Australia and the Philippines have also launched a partnership on the education front that aims to raise the quality of education in the Philippines, by investing in research to support the implementation of the Department of Education's (DepEd) Kindergarten to 12 (K to 12) Program.

The program has been kick-started with the opening of the Assessment Curriculum and Technology Research Center (ACTRC), a partnership of the University of the Philippines (UP)-College of Education and the University of Melbourne's Assessment Research Center.

The ACTRC, located in the UP College of Education Building in Diliman, Quezon City, was established with P150-million (A$3.4 million) support from AusAID. The funding will support the center's initial three years of operation.

"Australia strongly supports the Philippine government's efforts in implementing the K to 12 program. Investing in a quality education system will provide better opportunities for all, and a pathway out of poverty for the most disadvantaged," said Tweddell.

The center will undertake grounded research and evaluation activities in the areas of assessment, curriculum and technology as they relate to the implementation of the Philippine government's K to 12 program.

Added Ambassador Tweddell: "The interaction of curriculum, assessment and the use of technology are important facets of a successful education program. The curriculum is the blueprint of an education system. Assessment provides a picture of where we are in that blueprint today. Technology enables the curriculum to respond to the needs of the 21st Century."

The establishment of the ACTRC will enable the University of the Philippines to contribute not only to the implementation of a major reform program such as the K to 12, but also to the professional development of the UP faculty, especially fulfillment of its mandate as a research university."


PH to attain mining transparency goal

Malaya

6 June 2013

The Philippines will attain global standards on transparency and governance of its mining resources in 2015.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the Philippines will achieve compliant status on the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) in two years now that the comprehensive mining reforms are in place.

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje made the assessment two weeks after the Philippines was accepted as a candidate country to participate in the EITI, a globally developed standard that ensures transparency and better governance of a country's mining resources.

Paje said the country is now a step closer to reaching compliant status after President Aquno issued Executive Order (EO) No. 79 in 2012. Candidate countries are those that are working to reach compliant status.

"This latest development is a resounding affirmation by the international community of the administration's determination to make transparency and accountability the centerpiece of efforts to sustain the country's economic development and advance growth," Paje said.

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