MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Once more to the barricades

Published by MAC on 2013-07-09
Source: Bulatalt, Mindanews, PDI, statements, Sun Star (2013-06-30)

In MAC's last update (Philippines: Human rights project at Tampakan questions the project's future), we noted that the barricades against mining were once again being erected in parts of the Philippines. Those barricades are growing, with indigenous peoples blockading against Royalco in Nueva Vizcaya, despite a court order calling for it to disband, and tribal halting Carrascal Nickel Corporation (CNC) in Kalinga, in the Cordillera.

Also in the Cordillera, elders in Mankayan town are refusing to cooperate with attempts by the government to run an Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process for Lepanto Consolidated and Goldfields of South Africa, fearing that their participation will be confused with consent.

The Mamanway tribespeople in Surigao have lifted their barricade against Adnama Mining Resources Inc.after gaining their sought after royalty fee.

Environmentalists have disrupted Philex Mining's annual general meeting complaining about last year's Padcal minine tailing spill. The company is lobbying to have the suspension order at Padcal lifted & is arguing against responsibility for any clean up at a downstream hydroelectric dam.

Meanwhile, in further news of mining disaster both B2Gold and Semirara Mining re-started operations after their respective accidents (a tailings spill and fatal pit collapse).

Finally, the case challenging the constitutionality of the financial parts of the Mining Act of 1995 continues, with the Chamber of Mines making its counter-arguments (see: Philippines: The Assault on the Mining Act Continues).

Support for anti-mining barricade in N. Vizcaya swells as court issues TRO

"The solid support showed by the church people, farmers and professionals shows the anti-mining sentiments of the people of Nueva Vizcaya."

By Marya Salamat

Bulatlat.com

26 June 2013

MANILA -Church leaders and bikers in Nueva Vizcaya add to the local supporters of Nueva Vizcaya residents who built barricades against the entry of Australian mining firm Royalco.

The province's upland residents have reportedly voted to reject Royalco's copper mining venture in their area, citing the destruction it threatens to bring to their water sources, farms and communities.But the government still gave Royalco mining permits.So the residents took to the barricades as their way of defending the environment and their children's future, local leaders said.

"We have agreed to unite to protect our land for ourselves and our children. If the government cannot do this for us, we will do it ourselves," said Santos Yonga-an, chairman of the Kasibu Intertribal Response for Ecological Development (Kired), one of the local organizations manning an anti-mining barricade.

Royalco Philippines Inc. is a subsidiary of Australian Royalco Resources Limited (Royalco). It is exploring mineral deposits throughout the Philippines. So far, it has ongoing gold and copper mining projects in the country. One of its projects is the Gambang Project, located in central Cordillera of Northern Luzon;another is in the southern Sierra Madre range of Northern Luzon, adjoining the Didipio copper gold project of Oceana Gold Limited (with reserves of 23.7MT at 0.65 percent Cu and 1.8g/t Au).

In its website, Royalco saidit believes their Filipino tenement package "represents one of the most attractive porphyry copper targets globally available," with their particular interests "being associated high grade epithermal gold systems."

After successful explorations, Royalco discovered that the relatively still untapped rich deposits in the area "have been accumulated over a substantial period of time."

But as it tries its best to mine the rich deposits in central Cordillera and southern Sierra Madre ranges, Royalco is encountering stiff opposition from the residents. Finding its way to the sites barred by the people, they acquired a TRO from the local courts, targeting the leaders of the anti-mining barricades.

Royalco reportedly filed an additional petition citing in contempt eight of the leaders from the Dupax towns its TRO had earlier named. The company reportedly also filed a separate case against two other local leaders, this time from KIRED (Kasibu Intertribal Response for Ecological Development), who also have their own anti-mining barricades.

Caravan, church support

Amid threats from the Royalco's TRO and additional charges, members of the clergy of the Diocese of Bayombong of the Roman Catholic Church read during last Sunday masses a solidarity statement supporting those manning the barricades in upland villages of Nueva Vizcaya.

The next day, June 24, more than 500 residents of the province joined Bishop Ramon Villena in a caravan to visit the barricade sites in the town of Dupax Del Norte.

About 20 priests joined Bishop Villenawith several of them riding in bikes, said Elmer Bolusan, chairman of Samana-NV, one of the organizations whose members joined the caravan. Side by side with the bikers were the motor riders from Dupax, Bolusan added.

At one of the barricade sites in the upland village of Binuangan, the caravan held a prayer rally led by Bishop Ramon Villena, Monsignor Vicente Tugade and Fr. Jaime Noto, the parish priest of Belance, a central village of Dupax del Norte.

Bolusan said they listened again to the clergy's solidarity statement, read for those in the barricade by Fr. Jocson Ugaya. After that, they heard more solidarity messages from the different organizations that joined the caravan.

The Alliance of Upland Baranggays for Sustainable Development (AUBD), one of the lead organizations maintaining the barricades, thanked the groups for their presence and support, saying it boosted the morale of the people who are fighting for their rights in the area and who are most affected by mining.

Bolusan said more than 50 supporters accompanied the eight leaders being charged by Royalco to the hearing at the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, capital of Nueva Vizcaya.

"The solid support showed by the church people, farmers and professionals shows the anti-mining sentiments of the people of Nueva Vizcaya," Elmer Bolusan of Samana-NV said.

The solidarity statement read last Sunday Mass by the Diocese of Bayombong of the Roman Catholic Church reportedly affirmed the church's "strong solidarity with those groups affected by mining and those manning the barricades to prevent mining explorations."

The church quoted St Paul's Acts 18:9 telling the people "not to be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up". The statement also mentioned Pope Francis' encouragement for people to be protectors of life, of people and the environment.

Also, the priests urged the mining companies to stop the explorations. Appeals are raised to the different government agencies, the DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, to "take a fresh look on this matter especially the bad effects of mining".

The clergy's solidarity statement also asked the NCIP to review and listen to the indigenous peoples affected by the explorations and to take their side and resolve to protect their rights. The Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Ifugao and Bugkalot reportedly comprise some of the indigenous peoples at the barricades who are to be directly affected by Royalco's mining operations.

The clergy has also called on Nueva Vizcaya's provincial and local government units "to take active stance regarding mining and to protect the people and the environment of the province."It then appealed to all Novo Vizcayanos ("brothers and sisters of goodwill") to help protect the environment, support those who are actively involved and mobilize others to help because "sooner or later, all of us will be affected if we do not act now."

Bolusan of Samana-NV noted those who joined the caravan were inspired by the persistence and resoluteness of the people behind the barricades in protecting the land, livelihood and environment. He expressed hopes that it will draw more awareness and commitment from other people in the province to save the watershed haven of the north that is the province of Nueva Vizcaya. (http://bulatlat.com)


Mining Company's filed TRO Draws More Crowd in Anti Mining Barricades, Church in Solidarity

SAMANA-NV press release

25 June 2013

A day after the Clergy of the Diocese of Bayombong of the Roman Catholic Church read during the Sunday masses, the solidarity statement regarding their anti mining stance, more than 500 Novo Vizcayanos joined the Reverend Bishop Ramon Villena in a caravan and a visit to the barricade sites in Dupax Del Norte. The people heeded the call of the clergy to support the affected communities who are now defending and protecting the environment from mining and mining explorations through the barricades set up in the upland baranggays of Binuangan and Mataddi. Around 20 clergy joined the Bishop with several of them riding in bikes. Side by side with the bikers were the motor riders from Dupax.

Members of ANNVIK (Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan), along with the group SAMANA-NV (Sanggir dagiti Mannalon nga Agkaykaysa ti Nueva Vizcaya) as well as MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agricultura), a national farmer organization with a chapter in Nueva Vizcaya that promotes organic farming, the Youth Against Mining (YAM) expressed their solidarity and support to those manning the barricade. The members of ALMUSEGAM, (Alliance of Multisectoral Groups Against Mining) and AUBD (Alliance of Upland Baranggays for Sustainable Development), the two organizations which are the primary movers of the barricades, welcomed the groups.

As soon as the caravan reached the barricade site in Binuangan, a prayer rally ensued with the prayers led by Bishop Ramon Villena, Monsignor Vicente Tugade and Fr. Jaime Noto, the Parish Priest of Belance, a central baranggay of Dupax del Norte. The Clergy's Solidarity Statement was read by Fr. Jocson Ugaya and after was the solidarity messages of the different organizations present. The youths' message was delivered by Jenyrose Osingat while the Alliance of Upland Baranggays for Sustainable Development (AUBD), one of the primary organizations leading the barricades, thanked the groups for their presence and support, boosting the moral of the people who are fighting for their rights in the area and who are most affected by mining.

After the prayer rally, more than 50 people accompanied the 8 leaders who are sued by Royalco Phils. Inc. with a TRO as a result of their putting up of the 2 barricades against the mining company. The hearing was set due to the additional case of "cite for contempt" in relation to the TRO filed by the mining company against the 8 local leaders from the Dupax towns. A separate case was filed by the company against 2 other leaders from KIRED (Kasibu Intertribal Response for Ecological Development) group.

Baranggay Councilman Gesler Tactac, one of the defendants in the TRO case said after the hearing, "uray anya pay ti aramiden ti Royalco, saan da nga malappedan dagiti tattao nga agbarikada. Nangrugi idi kinasuwan dakami imadu a lalo iti nagbanbantay idiay barikada. Aglalo pay ketdin ita ta kaduwa tayo dagiti tao ti simbaan. Ituloy tayo iti panangsalaknib iti, daga, pagbiagan ken aglawlaw kontra kadagiti ganganaet ken dagiti buyot da nga mananggundaway kadatayo. Aramiden tayo daytoy saan laeng nga para kadatayo nu di ket nangnangruna para iti masakbayan dagiti anak tayo". (Royalco can never prevent the people from barricading no matter what they do to us. Since they filed the case against us, more people joined us in the barricade, so much more now that the church people are joining. Let us continue to protect the land, our livelihood and the environment against foreign exploiters and their cohorts. Let us do this not just for us but more for the future of our children.)

The solid support shown by the church people including the farmers and professionals manifests the anti mining sentiments of the people of Nueva Vizcaya. While the people directly involved in the barricades and the baranggays which are actively supporting the anti mining moves were morally and spiritually encouraged, those who joined them from other towns were inspired by the persistence and resoluteness of the people to protect the land, livelihood and environment. An event that will surely draw more awareness and commitment from the Novo Vizcayanos, to save the watershed haven of the north- the province of Nueva Vizcaya

Reference: Elmer Bolusan, SAMANA-NV Chairperson Contact No: 09268726343; 09068617227


Clergy Group Declares Solidarity with Barricading Anti miners, Calls for Unity!

SAMANA-NV press release

24 June 2013

The Clergy of the Diocese of Bayombong of the Roman Catholic Church read on Sunday at the pulpits the Statement of Solidarity of the Clergy together with the Bishop Ramon B. Villena regarding anti mining in the province and the ongoing barricades in the towns of Kasibu and Dupax Del Norte against Royalco Resources Ltd. The group reiterates their strong opposition to mining including the mining explorations being done in the province specifically in the two upland municipalities of Nueva Vizcaya as well as in the province of Quirino. The group recognizes the province "as a watershed area and so mining has no place in it".

The Clergy affirms their strong solidarity with those groups affected by mining and those manning the barricades to prevent mining explorations and have quoted St Paul's Acts 18:9 for the people "not to be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up". Mentioned in the statement is Pope Francis' encouragement for people to be protectors of life, of people and the environment. Further, the clergy group calls on the mining companies to stop the explorations. Appeals are raised to the different government agencies, the DENR/ Mines and Geosciences Bureau to "take a fresh look on this matter especially the bad effects of mining". The NCIP is also called to review and listen to the IP's affected by the explorations and take their sides and resolve to protect their rights. The Provincial Government and the Local Government Units are strongly being called for to take active stance regarding mining and to protect the people and the environment of the province. At the end of the statement is an appeal to Novo Vizcayanos ("brothers and sisters of goodwill") to help protect the environment, support those who are actively involved and mobilize others to help because "sooner or later, all of us will be affected if we do not act now", says the Clergy group.

Earlier, Clergy Bikers have been inviting people to join them Monday June 24 to a caravan to show support and solidarity with those affected baranggays and who are actively barricading the mining exploration companies. Converging area was set at Malasin, Dupax Del Norte at 8:00 am and was bound to the barricade sites, at Binuangan and Mataddi both of Dupax Del Norte.

After the caravan to the barricades, the church people with the Clergy bikers, along with other pro-environmental groups and pro-peasant organizations such as ANNVIK (Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan) and SAMANA-NV( Sanggir dagiti Mannalon nga Agkaykaysa ti Nueva Vizcaya) troop to the Regional Trial Court in Bayombong. It is to support the local leaders who are the defendants of a TRO filed by Royalco Phils. Inc and who are slapped with an additional case anew to their TRO, "citing for contempt" their second hearing, of their case in a month.

Elmer Bolusan, the chairperson of SAMANA-NV (Sanggir dagiti Mannalon nga Agkaykaysa ti Nueva Vizcaya) an alliance of farmers of the province said, "makikaykaysa kami kadagiti kakaduwa mi nga mannalon ti kabanbantayan iti panangilaban da ken panagbarikada. Dakami nga mannalon iti kangrunaan nga maapektaran ti panagminas. Saan laeng nga mapunas dagiti daga nga taltalunen mi, uray pay ti karbengan mi nga agbiag ket maawan. Ta ti daga ket pagbiyagan isu nga nasken nga ilaban ken salakniban. Daytoy ti sungbat mi iti karit ken awis dagiti Apo Padi iti Diocese ti Bayombong!" (We join our fellow farmers from the upland baranggays in their fight and barricades as we are the most affected by mining. Our farmlands are not just the ones destroyed, our rights to live too will be taken from us. The land is our source of life so we have to fight and protect it. This is our response to the challenge and call of the Clergy of the Diocese of Bayombong.)

Reference: Elmer Bolusan, SAMANA-NV Chairperson

Contact No: 09268726343; 09068617227


Mankayan elders reject NCIP list of reps

By Aldwin Quitasol

Northern Dispatch

Bulatlat.com

30 June 2013

BAGUIO CITY - Elders from Mankayan town refused to be included in the list of representatives made by the National Commision on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Cordillera for the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes regarding mining applications and land conversions affecting the area.

Under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), FPIC from affected indigenous communities is required for all permits and licenses. An FPIC is presently being sought regarding a proposed technical exploration of Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI) in Colalo village and the conversion of a portion of Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) 151 and 001 into a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA).

Tony Ugalde, vice president of the Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) said the residents of Mankayan did not give consent for the mining company's MPSA 151. He said that in fact, the elders from Mankayan Ancestral Domain Indigenous Peoples Organization (Madipo) filed a case for the cancellation of MPSA 151.

An 80 hectare portion of the MPSA 151 hosts an ore body adjacent to a portion of land declared as MPSA 001-90-CAR which also has the same characteristic. An FTAA conversion is all what South African mining giant Gold Fields needed to own bigger shares in FSGRI. Gold Fields owns 40 percent shares while Lepanto has 60 percent shares. Gold Fields reportedly gave down payments of US$44 million in 2010 and another US$66 million in 2011 for shares in the ore body.

According to Ugalde, the areas affected by the conversion are the villages of Poblacion, Tabio, Colalo, Paco, Cabiten, Sapid, Bulalacao and Suyoc.

Ugalde said that on June 28, representatives from the NCIP held simultaneous consultations in villages Cabiten, Paco, Sapid Colalo, Tabio, Suyoc, Poblacion and Bulalacao. He revealed that the NCIP has lists of the names of elders who would represent each barangay to the FPIC process on the FTAA conversion. He said that the elders especially those from Tabio, Bulalacao and Paco demand that their names be erased from the lists.

"If they will agree to the said list then it means they are also agreeing to the FTAA conversions which we are actually protesting," said Ugalde in the local dialect. He said the NCIP listed many names even without knowing if the following people would agree or not.

Ugalde said that they are submitting a petition signed by SMM members and Mankayan residents to the regional office of NCIP against the validation of the lists of elders who would be representatives to the FPIC process. He said that the petition is also a reiteration of their stand opposing the FTAA conversion of portions of MPSA 151 and 001.

In the petition, the residents stressed that they are against the FTAA conversion as the permit of MPSA 151 is temporary as there is no FPIC on it yet. They demand that such (FPIC) should be held first prior to entertaining any FTAA conversion.

The residents, through the petition, also reminded the NCIP of the invalidation case against MPSA 151. They also stated that only the communities directly affected by the conversion should take part in the decision process on the FTAA application.

The petition is addressed to NCIP Cordillera Regional Director Sancho S. Buquing. Ugalde said they will file the petition on July 1. He said they are giving also a copy to Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan.


Kalinga folk block entry of mining firm

By Ace Alegre

Northern Dispatch

25 June 2013

BAGUIO CITY - Tribal folks in barangay Balatoc, in Pasil town, Kalinga denied the entry of Carrascal Nickel Corporation (CNC) into their ancestral domain.

"There was no Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)," said Balatoc villager Victoria Gumisa-Kaloci.

Barangay Balatoc is one of the 14 barangays in Pasil, which formerly hosted the Batong Buhay Gold Mines Inc. (BBGMI).

In 2007, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) granted the indigenous peoples of Balatoc, a sub-tribe of Kalinga, the priority rights to develop and exploit the natural resources located in their ancestral domain at Balatoc, Pasil, Kalinga covering the mineral land which was once covered by mineral rights granted to BGMI.

Batong Buhay was sequestered after the ouster of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

Resolution number 017 series of 2007 by the NCIP provides priority rights to the indigenous peoples over the 10,670 hectares within the ancestral domain.

Villagers halted the alleged drilling activity in Balatoc February this year. Some residents cut off the water supply, prompting the operators of the drilling machines to cease their operations in the area.

"We do not want this to blow into a violent situation," Kaloci said, citing that the mining company failed to conduct the necessary FPIC before commencing with any mining operation in the area.

Kaloci's father Victor claimed that CNC entered into an agreement with two supposed tribal leaders, Arsenio Malannag Sr and Washington Bakidan for an exploration project without consulting the rest of the community.

The younger Kaloci claimed that the supposed Memorandum of Agreement between the CNC and the Malanag and Bakidan was hidden from the community. "We do not even know the content of their agreement, we were not shown a copy of it," she added.

Deceit

Kaloci said that before the exploration, the CNC conducted medical missions in the barangay and gathered signatures of the beneficiaries purportedly for attendance. Kaloci claimed that the signatures were used as approval attachments between the company and the Malanag Sr. and Bakidan who supposedly represented the Balatoc community.

Kaloci further explained that when they approached a company representative identified as Jacob Arroyo to explain, he claimed it was a government project. The company personnel told the residents to seek the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC), to which the CNC has a contract with.

Residents have already filed a complaint to the NCIP-Cordillera and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regarding the issue. Northern Dispatch


Mamanwa tribesmen lift barricade vs mining firm

By Roel Catoto

Mindanews

26 June 2013

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/26 June)-Members of the Mamanwa tribe have lifted their barricade against the Adnama Mining Resources Inc. (AMRI) after they were paid P10 million in royalty fees.

Datu Reynante Buklas, one of the Mamanwa chieftains, said they lifted the blockade at the mine site of AMRI in Barangay Urbiztondo, Claver town in Surigao del Norte after they got their initial royalty payment from the company.

AMRI is extracting nickel ore within the 48,679-hectare ancestral domain of the Mamanwas. The company ships the deposit to China.

Buklas said they set up last June 15 the barricade at the mining site, paralyzing the operations of the company, for non-payment of royalties due to them.

In a text message, he told MindaNews Tuesday night that they got the initial P10 million royalty payment from AMRI last June 19, paving the way for the company to resume operations.

AMRI owes the Mamanwas a royalty payment totaling P30 million for the year 2012, he added.

But Dulmar M. Raagas, president of the Chamber of Mines in Caraga Region, denied that AMRI failed to pay its royalty obligation to the Mamanwa tribe, the holder of the ancestral domain title.

"It's not the AMRI who failed to meet the obligations. On the contrary, AMRI has fully paid its royalty payments on time. The delay was on the part of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)," Raagas said.

He said he had talked with Omar Abanid, AMRI vice president and mine site manager, about the matter.

Raagas said the Mamanwa tribesmen should demand the NCIP to release their royalty fees.

MindaNews tried but failed to reach AMRI and NCIP officials for comments.

Buklas said it was Abanid and another staff who gave them the check and have it deposited to their bank account last Wednesday.

This was not the first time that the Mamanwa tribesmen held a barricade against a mining company in the area.

In 2009, Buklas and other chieftains barricaded against Taganito Mining Corp., forcing the company to pay its royalty obligations from 2006 to 2008 amounting to P72.5 million.

It was touted as the "largest royalty payment" ever made to a tribe in the country's mining history.

Three other mining companies are operating in Claver- Shen Zhou Mining Group Corp., Platinum Group Mining Corp. and the Taganito High Pressure Acid Leach Nickel Corporation.

The latter has just started the commissioning for its hydrometallurgical processing plant in preparation for their commercial production this September.

Buklas stressed that if mining companies in the area would not pay their royalty fees, they would not hesitate to hold a barricade against them to stop their operations.

"If they don't want to pay, they should stop mining and get out of our lands," Buklas said in Surigaonon.

Under the Mining Act of 1995 and the Ingenious Peoples Rights Act of 1997, Lumads are entitled to one percent of the gross earnings of mining operations in their ancestral areas. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)


Lumads: Casualty of mining and war

By Bobby Lagsa and Grace Cantal-Albasin

Sun Star Philippines

29 June 2013

LUMADS or the Indigenous peoples (IPs) are the hardest hit as massive destruction of mining operations and armed conflict in Mindanao continues.

These two man-made whammies become more tragic when nature brings its wrath to these lumad communities particularly the recent Typhoon Pablo that hit mostly areas where mining operations ravaged their forests.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform organized the Northeastern Mindanao Religious Leaders' Peace Summit here on June 27 - 28 where various Christian churches and groups in the country including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the National Council of Churches of the Philippines gathered.

Based on the workshop outputs of the summit on the current socioeconomic conditions of communities, the common results of mining operations have been environmental degradation and the displacement of Lumads from their ancestral domain.

Murder

The participants from Bukidnon cited the killing of Jimmy Liguyon, village chief of Dao in San Fernando town as the result of his opposition to mining activities in his barangay.

Liguyon was shot in front of his family on March 5, 2012.

Liguyon's death was blamed on Butsoy Salusad, a former New People's Army (NPA) rebel who surrendered sometime in 2010. The Regional Trial Court in Malaybalay City had issued a warrant for his arrest but he has remained free.

In the span of nine months in 2012, two lumad communities belonging to the Matigsalug-Manobo and Tigwahanon tribes in San Fernando town in Bukidnon province sought refuge outside the Provincial Capitol in Malaybalay City due to threats, harassments, and murder.

They have been displaced in the ancestral lands they inhabit since birth. A place where their ancestors saw the light of the world, lived their lives, and buried. It is a place where life is simple and contentment a bliss. A place where nature endowed it much resources and gold a bonus, but the greed of gold by large-scale mining companies divided the lumads.

This group that the State used to suppress the lumads'rights to protect their ancestral domains has been armed to enforce with impunity human rights abuses and violations to those who oppose them.

They were the families belonging to the clan of Liguyon and residents of Dao. They left the Provincial Capitol with justice still elusive. Some of them remain in hiding while others returned to Dao and chose to face looming death from people they oppose with due to mining disagreement.

Pastor Arturo Veladiez of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines said that Liguyon's successor, Fausto Bacliran, was shot in a beach resort in Barangay Bonbon here on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist or San Juan.

Bacliran was a barangay councilor who was Liguyon's ally. Three unidentified men shot him point blank in front of his colleagues and family at a beach resort where they wanted to fulfill a yearly tradition, to celebrate San Juan.

Veladiez, who belongs to the environment watchdog Panalipdan-Mindanao, said Bacliran's death was also related to mining.

Development aggression

The vast ancestral lands of the IPs in Mindanao have been under attack with development aggression that puts the lumads in the crossfire between overlapping government policies and the national government's policies on developing the countryside in the name of national patrimony and economic gain.

In Mindanao, vast track of lands that belong to the Lumads is rich in natural resources. The rich forests of Bukidnon and Agusan provinces belong to the at least eight tribes whose traditional ancestral lands are only bounded by rivers and ridges of mountains.

Farther north in the coastlines of Surigao provinces, the mountains are rich in mineral ore deposit.

In the mountains of Noventa bordering the two Surigao provinces, sits one of the world's largest Iron ore deposits. Mining companies started their exploration in the 1990s and started full operations in early 2000.

The Mamanwa of the Surigao sits in arguably one of the riches section in Caraga region and yet they still remain one of the poorest people in the region.

In fact, the two Surigao provinces belong to the poorest provinces in the country, an irony to their rich natural resources.

According to Carl Caesar Rebuta of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Incorporated, a non-governmental organization, the plight of the Lumads is a microcosm of a faulty system of government policies.

Environmental defenders and the human rights activists fighting for the rights of the lumad have been targeted for execution.

Timuay Lucenio Manda, a Subanen tribal leader in Zamboanga Sibugay has been targeted for his stand to defend his ancestors' land.

In September 2012, Manda was ambushed, he survived but his 11-year old son Jordan did not.

Intimidation, used of force, bribery and other cruel means have been implemented to dissuade lumads from resistance.

The divide and rule tactics are also employed.

Tribes have been divided with corporations and ranchers employing lumads and offering incentives to get favorable response from them.

Tribal dealers

One Manobo datu even quipped that if there are tribal leaders, there are also tribal dealers.

International Peace Observers Network (IPON) in its November 2012 issue of their The Observer Journal, a biannual magazine that looks into the plight of human rights violations noted that in the Philippines, laws are passed without any intent to fully implement them.

On The Observer, IPON opined that in the Philippines, actual impunity means that laws are nothing but paper promises.

The right of the Indigenous Peoples to self-determination is an inviolable as basic as the tenets for human rights.

The lumads' only fault, for all its frailty and misfortunes, is living on a fertile land.

And in that land, the conflict for resources arises and the lumads are caught in the crossfire.

Resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks

Some 60 priests, pastors, nuns and bishops from Northern Mindanao, Caraga Region and the Davao provinces attended the summit to push for the resumption of talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

They said they would bring the situation of the Lumads along with some recommendations to the attention of the negotiating panels of both parties.

Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, former member of the government technical working group on social and economic reforms in talks with the NDF, said the plight of the Lumads could be addressed by making the environment a framework for peace and development.

Alejo noted that the Lumads are locked up in all types of conflict in the island, from those involving the NPA and Moro rebel groups as well as in resource-based conflicts due to ancestral domain claims and the expansion of plantations.

He noted that there are "gaps in peace and development framework as against IPs worldviews."

"Let's examine the proposals of revolutionary groups for the IPs. What is their development plans for the IPs?" he said.

Plans for IPs

"They make war in the lands of the IPs, but what are their plans for the IPs?" Alejo added, alluding to both the government and rebel groups.

"Some of us may side with either the military or the rebels, but who side with the Lumads?" he added.

Higaonon Datu Antonio Lumandong of Claveria, Misamis Oriental lamented that Lumads have been torn between the military and the NPA. He said this situation has pitted even relatives against one another.

He said programs and projects proposed by government and corporations have also divided the lumads.

The tribal leader said that one way to address this problem is to clearly define the functions and limits of both formal governance and traditional governance as practiced by the lumads.

He added that lumad leaders could be more effective if they get formal education. "If they understand the ways of the lowlanders and the government bureaucracy, they can't be easily swayed by groups with vested interest. No matter how good a tribal leader is, he will encounter difficulties if he is not familiar with the world outside his domain."

Lumandong attended the summit as an observer. (With a report from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/Mindanews)


Environmental activists disrupt Philex Mining meeting

by Atom Araullo

ABS-CBN News

26 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Environmental activists called on the stockholders of Philex Mining Corporation to discontinue their support for the company during their annual stockholders meeting in a hotel in Ortigas, Quezon City.

Philex, the country's biggest mining corporation, is owned by Manny Pangilinan.

The company was allowed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to start its temporary operations in Padcal, Benguet to rehabilitate its tailings dam on March 8. This was six months after it was suspended due to a series of mine spills which released more than 20 million metric tons of tailings.

Activists led by the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment is opposing the company's request to extend it's temporary operation which was originally due to expire next month.

"Their excuse is that they haven't completed the dam rehabilitation, but the real reason of course is to rake in billions of pesos from their operations while subjecting our people to further risk of flooding and disaster," said Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista.

Philex was allegedly able to sell an estimated P1 billion worth of metal concentrates in March in the process of rehabilitating its tailings dam.

"We want ordinary stockholders to pull out their investments from irresponsible and dirty corporations such as Philex. May ibang paraan na kumita na hindi masisira ang kalikasan," says Bautista.

Philex has paid P1 billion to the DENR as a fine for the tailings spill last year. However, National Power Corp. is also demanding P6.42 billion from the company for allegedly dumping mine wastes to the San Roque multipurpose dam. The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) also imposed a fine of P200 million which Philex has yet to pay.


Philex seeks permanent lifting of suspension order

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña

The Philippine Star

27 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining Corp. is asking the government to permanently lift the suspension order on its mining operations in Padcal Benguet, saying it has put in place the necessary measures to rehabilitate its copper gold mine and address environmental concerns.

On the sidelines of the company's annual stockholders' meeting yesterday, Philex chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the firm filed Friday a request for it to continue to operate even after the lapse of the temporary permit issued by the government to allow it to implement its mine rehabilitation plan.

The temporary lifting is valid only for four months or until July 7.

Philex was slapped with a suspension order after a tailings pond spilled about 21 metric tons of mines wastes, affecting some parts of a river in northern Philippines. The company voluntarily suspended operations on Aug. 1, 2012.

The mining firm, controlled by the Hong Kong's First Pacific Co. Ltd., has already paid the government around P1 billion as penalty for the waste spill.

Pangilinan said the company is on track to complete the mine's rehabilitation and should be allowed to continue its operations in Benguet.

He said the closure of the mine would put a dent on Philex's financial performance.

"I can definitely say we'll make profit in the first half but for the second quarter, it would all depend on the government's response to our request for the permanent lifting of the suspension order," Pangilinan said.

In the first quarter, Philex reported a net income of P403 million, which reflects less than a month of operation of its Padcal mine. The amount was significantly lower than the P1.27 billion recorded in the same period last year due to the suspension. Consolidated core net income reached P132 million while revenues amounted to P889 million.

A total of 611,801 tons were milled since the resumption of operations to the end of the quarter, producing 7,610 ounces of gold and 2.434 million pounds of copper.

Philex intends to raise P12 billion from a stock rights offering this year to finance the rehabilitation of the Padcal mine and the development of its Silangan copper-gold project in Surigao del Norte.

Philex officials said the Padcal mine's lifespan remains until 2020.

Slated for operations in 2007, the Silangan gold project in Surigao is expected to provide a new revenue stream for the company after the lifespan of the Padcal mine.

The Silangan project has a resource estimate of nine million ounces of gold and five billion pounds of copper for a mine life of at least 30 years.

Compared to Padcal when it started operations in 1958, the Silangan mine has resource estimate of 2.1 billion pounds of copper, 5.7 million ounces of gold and 6.2 million ounces of silver.


Pangilinan: Philex not required to clean up San Roque dam

By Desiree Caluza

Inquirer Northern Luzon

29 June 2013

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines-Manuel V. Pangilinan, chair of Philex Mining Corp., said his company has not been required by the government to clean the mine wastes that may have reached the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan when its tailings dam in the firm's Benguet mine site broke down on Aug. 1 last year.

San Roque Dam serves as a filtering facility for Agno River before it reaches Pangasinan towns, but officials of Dagupan City have been concerned about the impact of the accidental breach of a tailings storage facility of Philex's Padcal mine in Itogon, Benguet.

The tailings dam discharged 20 million metric tons of tailings into a creek that flows towards the Agno River. The leak was stopped when Philex workers dropped a concrete ball encased in metal into the vortex.

Built to accommodate

"San Roque Dam has been built to accommodate sediments. It has huge storage facilities that will accommodate the sediments that will flow time to time from the surrounding mountains. It's difficult to take out the tailings. The dam can accommodate the kind of tailings that were deposited," Pangilinan said at a news conference here on Thursday.

"Our people were there to check the impact of the wastes on Balog Creek and the entire Agno River system. There were even talks that it went down to Dagupan, but this is all unfounded fear," he said.

But he admitted that Philex is in talks with the National Power Corp. (Napocor), which oversees the operations of the San Roque Dam.

In a Philex disclosure report to the Philippine Stock Exchange in May, Philex cited a May 10 notification from Napocor that it is billing the mining firm P6.42 billion for pollution that has damaged the San Roque watershed, and "for 13.5 million cubic meters of mine wastes [that currently] occupy significant space in the [San Roque Dam] reservoir ... that reduced the volume of water to be used for power generation."

Caused by accident

Pangilinan said they are disputing Napocor's claims by asserting that the waste discharge was caused by an accident.

He met reporters at the Baguio Country Club before he and the Philex board of directors inspected the repairs made at Padcal mine on Friday.

He said Philex had complied with all the requirements imposed by the government in rehabilitating the Balog Creek, a tributary of Agno River, and had paid the P1-billion fine.

He said Philex's combined expenses amounted to P4 billion to clean up the river and to improve the waste facilities of the Padcal mine, Philex's pioneer mine, which is credited by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as the first underground block cave operation in the country beginning in 1958.

Pangilinan said Philex's efforts should convince government to permanently lift the ban on Padcal mine's operations.

Padcal was allowed to resume operations on March 8 to produce mine waste to fill up the vacuum that was created when the tailings leaked out of the pond. The resumption order, however, was temporary and would last until July 7.

Fay Apil, MGB Cordillera director, said the mine rehabilitation fund committee, which oversees repairs at Padcal's tailings storage facility, has concluded that the firm should continue operating to help stabilize its tailings pond, at least for a few more months now that the monsoon has started.

Spillway chutes

Philex vice president Libby Ricaforte, also Padcal mine resident manager, said the firm's consultants are scheduled to review the progress made in rehabilitating the tailings pond.

But he said the tailings pond should be able to withstand heavy downpour now that two of three newly constructed spillway chutes are operational.

The spillway replaced the damaged penstock inside the tailings pond, which triggered last year's breach. Like the penstock, the spillway diverts surface runoff water dumped by rain from the waste facility towards the local waterways, he said.

Unlike the penstock's 6-meter-wide channel, each of the new spillway chutes are 12 meters wide, increasing the volume of rainwater it is able to divert away from the tailings pond during storms, he said.

"At the end of the day, we have to rely on government to assess the situation, and hopefully arrive at the decision that will allow us to continue operating beyond the deadline date of July 7," Pangilinan said.

He said Philex is also constructing a fourth tailings storage facility to accommodate waste generated by Padcal mine as it resumes work until 2020.

Padcal mine has 75 million tons of deposits available for extraction until 2020, "but there are indicated resources of about 180 million tons, so we might be able to expand the mine life," he said. Padcal was due for decommissioning in 2011 until Philex extended its operations. With a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon


SC allows mining group through ex-Chief Justice Puno to join mining debate

By Tetch Torres-Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

25 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines-The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) through retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and retired Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza to participate in the debate on the petition that challenges anew the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995.

High Court's information chief Theodore Te in a text message confirmed that the intervention filed by COMP has been allowed by the Supreme Court.

Among the members of COMP include the TVI Resources and Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD), OceanaGold (Philippines) and Asiaticus Mining Corp. (AMCOR), and all are named respondents in the petition filed by anti-mining advocates led by former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros.

In their motion, COMP pointed out that the high court has already ruled on the constitutionality of the Mining Act in the case of La Bugal-B'laan v. Ramos in 2004.

They said the La Bugal case took six years for the high court to deliberate on-still there is no material change in the circumstances of the Philippine mining industry.

"There is no compelling reason for the high tribunal to abandon its previous ruling," COMP said as they insist that the petition be dismissed pointing that an adverse ruling "not only undermines mining investments but also leads to a significant loss of investors' confidence, not only in the mining industry but broadly across all industries, severely impacting the investment climate and harming the country's credibility."

Intervenors said the issue is for the Executive and Legislative branches to resolve, not with the Supreme Court.

"To have the Supreme Court revisit its ruling so soon after the (La Bugal) decision became final in 2005 will definitely shake investor confidence and destabilize a critically needed industry," they said.

COMP added that about P173 billion in mining investments have been poured into the country since 2004 following the La Bugal ruling, making the mining industry a significant contributor to the country's coffers.

They said an adverse ruling would not only undermine mining investments but also would lead to significant loss of investors' confidence.


Miners want to answer mining foes in SC

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

25 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines-The Supreme Court will resume Tuesday hearing oral arguments on the petitions against the Mining Act of 1995 as retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza asked the high court to allow the Chamber of Mines to intervene and take part in the proceedings.

Puno and Mendoza serve as counsel for the Chamber of Mines, a group of mining companies opposed to two petitions filed by former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, other lawmakers and residents of some Mindanao provinces.

In their two petitions, Hontiveros' group challenged the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, as well as administrative orders issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The petitions said the two sections of the Mining Act were unconstitutional because they allowed for the inequitable sharing of wealth from mining, especially for the government, and the government share was limited to excise taxes. At present, the government takes a limited share of the revenue from mining contracts-a two-percent excise tax and five-percent royalty.

Second round

The high court is set to resume Tuesday the second round of oral arguments on the Anti-Mining Act petitions two months after it first held a hearing in Baguio City on April 16.

In a three-page motion for intervention filed on June 19, the Chamber of Mines sought to intervene and participate in the oral arguments but asked the high court to hold it "sometime in August 2013."

The chamber's motion for intervention cited the absence of Mendoza, who will argue for the chamber. Mendoza had to go abroad and "will not be back until the end of July," it said.

It also asked the high court to admit its comment in intervention.

In its 38-page comment in intervention, the Chamber of Mines asked for the dismissal of the petitions for certiorari and prohibition filed by Hontiveros and her copetitioners, citing three reasons.

These were: That the arguments raised by petitioners had already been passed upon and disposed of against petitioners in the case La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association v Ramos, which the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling; that the high court should stand by its ruling here; and that the legislative and executive branches should decide on the question of what is an equitable revenue sharing from mining.

Landmark ruling

The landmark ruling of the Supreme Court had to do with a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) that then President Fidel Ramos had entered into with an Australian company.

On Jan. 27, 2004, the high court struck down major provisions of the Mining Law for violating the Constitution, which requires that the state should have full control and supervision of the development of natural resources.

But on Dec. 1, 2004, the high court reversed its ruling and upheld the law, regulations and FTAAs, provided that full control remained with the President.

"The Honorable Court should stand by its prior decision in La Bugal B'laan. In accordance with Article 8 of the Civil Code, the decision in La Bugal B'laan is not only ‘the law of the case,' but the law," the chamber said.

The chamber also said the petitioners had not shown any compelling reason to abandon the La Bugal B'laan case as it described their arguments to be a "mere rehash of those already overruled" in the same case.

It also held that there was no actual case or controversy in which to relitigate the case and that petitioners did not complain that they had been injured because of these provisions.


SC Justices tell anti-mining advocates: We can't serve as conscience of gov't

Philippine Daily Imnquirer

25 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines-What is the role of the Supreme Court in the questions about the Mining Act of 1995?

Justices of the Supreme Court raised this matter to anti-mining advocates during Tuesday's oral argument.

"Who is going to decide whether there is sufficient protection in mining, the Supreme Court?" Associate Justice Roberto Abad asked.

Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda, counsel for one of the petitioners, said they are seeking the high court's intervention as conscience.

But Abad said "it is not our role to serve as conscience of the government. Congress should be the conscience of government...Maybe you are addressing the problem to the wrong forum."

Former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, in her petition, asked the high court to declare as unconstitutional Sections 80 and 81 of Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995.

Section 80 states that the total government share in a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) shall be the excise tax on mineral products while Section 81 specifies the government share in Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements or FTAAs.

The petitioners which also include Quezon Representative Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino and several others said both are unconstitutional because they foster inequitable sharing of wealth.

They said Section 80 for instance limits the share of the government in MPSA to excise taxes while Section 81 confines government shares to taxes, fees and royalties instead of allowing it to have full control over the exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources.

Petitioners, during the oral argument, said they want the high court to set a guideline which Congress could use in passing a new law that would amend the Mining Act.

"Does the Supreme Court have that authority to set standards for Congress to follow," Associate Justice Jose Perez asked adding "what will happen to the guideline if it is disregarded by the legislature?"

Lawyer Christian Monsod, another counsel for the petitioners, said the high court, as interpreter of the Constitution can interpret what should constitute equitable sharing.

"If Congress passes something that violates this (guideline) then we will go back to you (Supreme Court) to strike it down as unconstitutional," Monsod added.

For her part, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno asked the petitioners why not wait for Congress to correct Sections 80 and 81 and what is the urgency.

Oral arguments will continue on July 16.


On eve of 2nd day of SC oral arguments, groups push for alternative mining law

By MARK MERUEÑAS

GMA News

24 June 2013

Groups which are seeking to strike down as illegal portions of Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995 said on Monday that they merely wanted an alternative law that would not be disadvantageous to the Philippine government.

In a press conference in Manila, Erwin Quinones of the SOS-Yamang Bayan, one group opposed to the law, said that they wanted an "Alternative Minerals Management Bill", in which mining activities are "regulated and needs-based."

Quinones said the alternative mining law should also pave the way for the creation of a "minerals management council" that would ensure the Philippine Government's interests are protected.

"In its present form the so-called revenue regimes of the Mining Act reveals that with its many fiscal incentives and tax holidays, it is a one-way assurance for mining companies get their profits while the Government and the Filipino people bear the brunt of the social and environmental risks," the groups said.

Monday's press conference came on the eve of the second day of oral arguments at the Supreme Court on the petitions questioning the mining law.

The conference also came on the heels of a petition filed by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), represented by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza, seeking to dismiss the anti-mining law petitions.

In their petition for prohibition and mandamus filed in March 2008 which revived issues concerning the law, Akbayan and the other petitioners questioned the constitutionality of Section 80 and 81 of the Mining Law, as well as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2007-12 for limiting the government's share in mining activities to duties, fees, and usual taxes, including an excise tax of 2 percent.

"Congress, in the case of the Mining Act, failed to put in the necessary standards and conditions. Sec. 80 and 81,were overlooked. The DENR, via its administrative order has given its own interpretation to the point of divesting State interest for real income to the mining corporations," the petitioners said.

On the first day oral arguments on the matter in Baguio City last April 16, the petitioners appealed to the 14 magistrates to strike down as unconstitutional Sections 80 and 81 of the law because it created "inequitable distribution" of shares of income derived from mining activities in the country.

That time, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reiterated the position he made nine years ago when he dissented from the 2004 Supreme Court majority ruling that upheld the law's legality.

Carpio is the only remaining Supreme Court magistrate among the justices who voted in December 2004 on the constitutionality of the 1995 mining law (La Bugal v Ramos).

He was among the four justices who dissented from the majority ruling that the law was constitutional. - DVM, GMA News


Anti-mining advocates to press ahead with plea vs Mining Act

By Tetch Torres-Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

24 June 2013

MANILA, Philippines-Anti-mining advocates on Monday brushed aside the call to the Supreme Court of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and retired high court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza to dismiss the petition that challenges anew the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995.

At a press conference Monday, petitioners said they are only asking the high court to nullify particular provision of the Mining Act of 1995.

Lawyer Grace Villanueva said they are asking the high court to declare as unconstitutional Sections 80 and 81 of Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995.

The two former SC magistrates told the high court last week that the petition should be dismissed since the high tribunal already ruled on the constitutionality of the law in 2004, in the case of La Bugal-B'laan v. Ramos.

They said the La Bugal case took six years for the high court to deliberate on-still there is no material change in the circumstances of the Philippine mining industry.

"There is no compelling reason for the high tribunal to abandon its previous ruling," they said as they insisted that the petition be dismissed pointing that an adverse ruling "not only undermines mining investments but also leads to a significant loss of investors' confidence, not only in the mining industry but broadly across all industries, severely impacting the investment climate and harming the country's credibility."

Intervenors said the issue is for the executive and legislative branches to resolve, not with the Supreme Court.

Section 80 states that the total government share in a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) shall be the excise tax on mineral products while Section 81 specifies the government share in Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements or FTAAs.

Villanueva said there is also coordination with Congress for an alternative law on mining-the Alternative Minerals Management Bill which they hope would scrap the current Mining Act.

The high court on Tuesday will continue hearing the petitions against the Mining Act of 1995.

Former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, in her petition, asked the high court to declare as unconstitutional Sections 80 and 81 of Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act.

Section 80 states that the total government share in a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) shall be the excise tax on mineral products while Section 81 specifies the government share in Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements or FTAAs.

The petitioners, aside from Hontiveros, also include Quezon Representative Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and several others, said both are unconstitutional because they foster inequitable sharing of wealth.

They said Section 80 for instance limits the share of the government in MPSA to excise taxes while Section 81 confines government shares to taxes, fees and royalties instead of allowing it to have full control over the exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources.


Philippine government urged to look into plight of mining-affected communities

Mindanao Examiner

20 June 2013

MANILA - Filipino environmental advocates have urged the government to look into the plight of communities affected by mining activities in the Philippines.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of the group called Alyansa Tigil Mina, and a convener of the "Tao Muna, Hindi Mina! Anti-mining campaign, said they put large-scale mining activities as a major issue that the government should respond to.

He said the campaign reiterates the cry of mining-affected communities for the Aquino government to prioritize people and environment over mining.

"We would like to emphasize the need to revisit the current mining regime, present how mining activities have impacted host communities, and let the public judge if the failed promises of development are worth the social and environmental injustices caused by this destructive industry," Garganera said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Also on Thursday, anti-mining activities and cyclists held a bike tour from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Central Office to the Supreme Court in Manila to highlight the negative social and environmental impacts of mining and call to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942.

This is in relation to the Supreme Court Oral Arguments on a petition questioning the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of RA 7942 and DENR Adm. Order 2007-12 that establishes the supposed income derived from Mineral Production Sharing Agreements and Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements.

Rep. Barry Gutierrez has vowed to file the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill which is also being pushed by SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.

The lawmaker urged the Supreme Court to rule against the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995. The bill would serve to offset the negative impacts of mining on the environment, strengthen stakeholder participation in mining contracts and ensure that local communities and the government have a greater share of mining profits.

"The Supreme Court should listen to the millions of voices that are opposed to the current system of mining in the country. The current mining law has only favored the large mining companies at the expense of indigenous peoples, local governments and communities, and the environment," Gutierrez said.

"We're hopeful that we can pass an alternative mining bill in the incoming 16th Congress and correct the years of disastrous mining policies that came as a result of the current. Mining Act."

SOS-Yamang Bayan Network Coordinator Erwin Quiñones also said that the petitions for prohibition and mandamus were filed in March 2008 to defend the lives, dignity, livelihood, land, and environment and rights of mining-affected communities and indigenous peoples.

"We believe that we should not allow this policy to legalize the attack against our land and people. Despite our call to the Supreme Court to immediately resolve the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of the Mining Law, we also question the constitutionality of the law as a whole," he said.

The groups are united in their call to repeal the current mining law and enactment of a pro-people, pro-environment alternative minerals management bill that will be filed as the Congress opens in July 1.


B2Gold restarts production at Philippine mine after tailings pipe leak

By: Henry Lazenby

Mining Weekly

25 June 2013

TORONTO (miningweekly.com) - Triple-listed B2Gold on Monday revealed that a tailings-line leak that took place earlier this month at the Masbate mine, in the Philippines, had resulted in operations being suspended while the steel pipe was replaced, with production being restarted on Saturday.

B2Gold, which acquired the 200 000 oz/y mine in its blockbuster C$1.1-billion takeover of CGA Mining at the start of the year, said it had suspended processing after observing minor leaks in the process plant tailings line. Subsequent wear measurement had resulted in the decision to replace the steel line, which was now complete.

Before the suspension, mine production totalled 1 800 oz more than company forecasts for the second quarter but, as a result of the suspension of operations, production for the period was expected to be about 7 000 oz less than expected.

However, B2Gold said the production loss would be offset with a modification of the mining sequence centred on the Colorado pit. The modification had been in development before the incident and would result in the production guidance of between 175 000 oz and 185 000 oz of gold for the year being unaffected.

The tailings-line discharge was minimal, estimated to be less than 100 m3 of slurry, and the leakage was contained within an emergency pond and ditch next to the line. The emergency pond was specifically designed to contain tailings material in the event of a pipe rupture.

Repairs to this section of pipe were immediately undertaken and cleanup activities were started.

B2Gold said extensive environmental monitoring of all potential areas of impact from these incidents was conducted during and after the incident, with no impacts detected. Ongoing monitoring would continue as the plant is restarted to confirm no additional impacts from the incident.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, including the offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Environmental Management Bureau were informed of the incident, with both offices subsequently visiting the operation.

No significant variation to works already completed or scheduled by the operation were required and officials and nearby residents of the adjacent Barangay were also notified of the incident and made aware of all remedial actions that were being taken.

Investigations into the cause of the leaks, including ultrasonic testing, indicated premature internal wear of the tailings pipeline. Therefore, to eliminate the potential for the reoccurence of similar events, the entire tailings pipeline was replaced.

The company's TSX-listed shares shed 5.75% of its value on Monday to close at C$2.13 apiece, having lost 40.05% of its value since the start of the year.


DOE allows Semirara Mining Corp. to resume operations in Antique

By Nestor Burgos Jr.

Inquirer Visayas

23 June 2013

ILOILO CITY, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) has granted permission to the Semirara Mining Corp. (SMC) to resume extraction operations after it cleared the firm of negligence in the collapse of a mining pit that buried 10 workers.

Five workers died when at least 600,000 cubic meters of soil (around the load of 13,000 dump trucks) were dumped on the workers who were operating heavy equipment at the bottom of the pit.

Workers Jan Riel Planca, Leovigildo Porras, Randy Tamparong, Richard Padernilla and Junjie Gomez remained missing despite continuous search.

Energy Undersecretary Ramon Allan Oca said the SMC was allowed to resume extraction operations starting in April at the northern area of the 360-hectare Panian Pit on Semirara Island in Antique.

Oca said their investigation showed that there was no indication that portions of the western wall would collapse.

"We found no evidence of negligence on the part of the company," he said.

But he said the resumption of extraction in the western area of the pit would only be allowed if the rehabilitation measures were completed and if the safety of the pit was ensured.

"The (SMC) was required to put up additional safety measures as a pre-condition to the resumption of extraction operations," Oca told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The safety measures include additional de-watering wells, monitoring stations and cutoff walls to prevent the collapse of the walls of the mining pit.

The DOE will also conduct more frequent inspections and monitoring from every month or every two months instead of the quarterly regular inspections.

The northern area is 300 to 400 meters away from the western wall of the pit where 10 workers were buried after parts of the wall collapsed on February 13.

Oca said two pieces of heavy equipment have been found under tons of soil but no bodies have been recovered.

He said the search for the missing victims would continue even as the SMC was directed to conduct rehabilitation measures in the collapsed section of the pit.

Several workers of the mining company earlier told the Inquirer that company officials had ignored warnings of an imminent landslide at the western wall of the pit.

But company officials have denied the allegations stressing that the landslide was unexpected and even personnel who were monitoring the safety of the area were among the victims.

The Department of Labor Employment (DOLE) in Western Visayas earlier reported that the SMC and its contractors had violated labor standards including its failure to pay the minimum wage and other benefits for their workers.

The violations included underpayment of minimum wage; non-payment of 13th month pay, holiday and overtime pays, and service incentive leaves; and non-coverage of workers with the Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth, and Pag-IBIG.

The SMC has already taken full responsibility for the payment of wages due to the workers, according to the DOLE.

The SMC supplies 7 million metric tons of coal annually or 94 percent of locally produced coal. The company exports 2.2 million mt while 4.8 million mt is for the 600-megawatt Calaca power plant in Batangas and other companies like cement factories.

The company, which employs around 2,800 people, posted a P6-billion profit in 2011.

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