Philippines: Glencore Xstrata further delayed over TampakanPublished by MAC on 2013-08-14
Source: Statements, Rappler, Mindanews, Sun Star, Inquirer (2013-08-14)
Glencore Xstrata has finally succumbed to reality in recognising the nature of the opposition it faces to the proposed Tampakan project, and has agreed to further long-term delays (& 'down-sized' its workforce in the process). This follows the launch of new materials which review the water impacts the mine would have on the surrounding provinces.
Despite (or possibly even because of) the non-cooperation of many tribal people in Mankayan in the Cordillera, the much contested free, prior, informed consent process appears to have reached an initial conclusion (see: Philippines: Once more to the barricades). However, even if Goldfields of South Africa and Lepanto Consolidated of the Philippines believe they have agreement it is clear there will be protests lodged about "the irregular and inconclusive" process.
Indigenous groups elsewhere in the Cordillera are demanding compensation from Philex for the now notorious 2012 mine waste spill from its Padcal mine (see Philippines Mining: Damning Conclusions).
Meanwhile Philex is looking at developing a coal-fired plant for its developing gold and copper project in Surigao del Norte. Surigoa del Norte is used to mining development (including the problematic Red 5's Siana mine - see Philippines: Same problems, new mine), so that a mayor of one of the local towns, Bacuag, has followed the exampled of the much larger Davao City, and rejected any mining activities in the town.
In the nearby province of Surigao del Sur, an anti-mining activist Chito Trillanes is in fear of his life thanks to his environmental advocacy.
In the Region 9 town of Bayog, a Bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church has led a fact-finding mission into the situation of Subanen communities who have long expressed opposition to mining companies. He noted the continuation of human rights abuses, which meant many are too afraid to speak up against the miners.
Finally, recent articles that were published globally highlighted the ongoing issue of illegal black sand mining in the northern Philippines, and - no doubt in response - an "anti-black sand mining task force" has been created with the arrest of 18 Chinese nationals allegedly involved in the activity.
Glencore-Xstrata 'downsizes' PH mining operations
by Edwin Espejo
13 August 2013
DOWNSIZING. After stiff opposition from host local government, Church and tribes, including rebel attacks, the operator of one of the world's biggest copper and gold deposits cut its Philippine mining operations.
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines - After announcing in December 2012 that it is moving its target for commercial operations to 2019, local mining firm Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) announced it is reducing its "activity and expenditure levels" that "will result in staff downsizing and a reduction in the utilization of contractors."
In a press release on Monday, August 12, SMI executive vice president Justin Hiller said outstanding issues and challenges have not made possible for the company "to make adequate progress toward our Project goals."
"Without fundamental change in approach, progress is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future," Hiller further stated.
Hiller added that they are revising their work plan and will concentrate on "resolving these issues."
SMI is the operator of the Tampakan mine in South Cotabato in Mindanao, the country's potentially biggest foreign investment. SMI had claimed that its US$5.9 billion Tampakan project will boost the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) by 1%.
Open pit mining ban
For years, SMI has been faced with stiff opposition from the provincial government of South Cotabato. In 2010, local officials passed a local ordinance banning open pit mining, which is the mode for extracting mineral at the mine site.
"The outstanding issues and challenges facing the Tampakan Project include the resolution of the South Cotabato open-pit mining ban, the definition of the pathways to project approvals from all levels of government, and the gaining of consent and the resettlement of impacted communities," the statement of Hiller added.
The mine site sits atop the mountainous village of Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
In February, SMI obtained the crucial environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the government for its US$5.9 billion Tampakan Copper and Gold Project but it still has to seek the approval of the local government.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes has repeatedly said she will implement the ordinance which she herself signed in June 2010, just days before stepping down to claim her seat in the House of Representatives.
In the May 2013 local elections, Fuentes regained her old post after defeating former Gov. Arthur Pingoy.
Fuentes has expressed concerns over water supply in Koronadal Valley once SMI is allowed to operate.
SMI has claimed that its mining operation will boost the economy of Region 12 (or the Soccsksargen region, which included South Cotabato) by 10%.
Based on SMI's feasibility study, the mine is expected to pay the government $7.2 billion in total taxes and royalties per year under the current tax regime after a 5-year recovery period.
While the local government recognized the contribution of mining to the economy, it said the taxes the industry pays do not offset the environmental risks involved in their operations.
The Aquino government has championed efforts to improve its share of revenues from mining activities, which it says harm the environment.
In July 2012, the Aquino government issued an executive order banning the issuance of new mining permits. It said it will ask Congress to reform the current revenue-sharing provision of the mining law.
Church, rebels, indigenous peoples
The local Catholic Church headed by Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez is also strongly opposed to the project saying its operations will only escalate resistance from indigenous people and increased activities from armed rebels in the area.
The communist-led New People's Army has repeatedly threatened to launch attacks against the mining company. On New Year's Day in 2008, a company of NPA rebels raided and torched the main base camp of SMI in the remote village of Table in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
In addition, several B'laan tribal leaders have taken up arms over what they called SMI encroachment of their ancestral lands.
"We look forward to working with the National Government through the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to address these challenges," SMI said in the statement. The MICC is the body tasked by the Aquino government to draft the proposed new provisions of the reform law.
SMI has reportedly already spent more than US$300 million, mostly underwritten by Xstrata, since it acquired the rights over the project in 2001.
The Tampakan has one of the largest copper and gold deposits in the world. It is expected to produce an average of 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold over its 17-year life.
New global owners
The downsizing announcement came just 3 months after Glencore International completed the takeover of Xstrata Plc to form the world's 4th largest diversified mining company and solidified Glencore's status as the world's largest commodities firm.
Before the takeover, Xstrata Plc was the world's 4th largest copper producer.
Glencore-Xstrata owns the 62.5% controlling stake at SMI through its Australia-based subsidiary Xstrata Copper.
The remaining 37.5% share of SMI is owned by Indophil Resources NL, another Australia-based exploration company.
Local conglomerates also has minority stakes in Indophil: Gold producer Philex Mining Corp has a 1.3% stake, 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.
A source who requested anonymity said only 5 of SMI's core of managers will be retained as the company moves to reduce its operations.
SMI said it expects reactions from managers and employees who will be laid off.
"This decision has not been taken lightly; however, we expect it will take some time to resolve these complex matters effectively before the Project can again resume a path toward development," SMI added.
The company assures it will continue to support host mining communities.
"We will continue to support our host communities through our committed development programs," the company added.
The Tampakan mine is under a financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) with the national government. It is the only fiscal regime in the Philippines that permits 100% foreign ownership of a mine. - Rappler.com
Xstrata sacks workers at stalled Philippines mine
AAP, with a staff reporter, Business Spectator
14 August 2013
Swiss mining giant Glencore Xstrata is laying off nearly all workers at its $US5.9 billion ($6.49 billion) Tampakan copper project in the Philippines which has been stalled by regulators.
A spokesman for Glencore Xstrata's Sagittarius Mining, John Arnaldo, said the mine is cutting costs while it undergoes "an extremely complex and uncertain pathway to ultimate project approval".
"At present, the project faces substantial development challenges.... no investment decision can be made until the current project challenges are resolved and necessary approvals obtained," he said.
He said the hurdles include a local government ban on open-cut mining, while the company must also still obtain a substantial number of community and government permits.
Out of 1,060 workers, the company is dismissing 300 regular and project employees and about 620 contract workers, Arnaldo said.
Under its revised work plan, the company will still be spending about $US1 million a month, down from its previous 2013 work plan of $US4 million a month, he added.
Sagittarius describes the Tampakan project, on the major southern island of Mindanao, as one of the world's largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits.
The project would be the Philippines' largest ever foreign investment but it has been opposed by anti-mining activists, tribal groups and church leaders.
Arnaldo said the company has so far invested more than $US500 million in developing Tampakan, and had hoped early approvals would allow it to start commercial production by 2019.
The Philippines is believed to have some of the world's biggest mineral reserves -- the government estimates the country has at least $840 billion in gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore deposits.
However, the minerals have been largely untapped, partly because of a strong anti-mining movement led by the influential Catholic Church. Poor infrastructure and security concerns have also kept investors away.
6,000 sign online petition vs Tampakan mining project
30 July 2013
MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 July) - At least 6,000 individuals have signed as of today an online petition to cancel the permits issued to Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) for the copper-gold project in Tampakan, South Cotabato and in two other neighboring towns, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) today said in a statement.
PMPI advocacy officer Primo Morillo said the petition was started a few weeks ago by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, on Change.org.
PMPI quoted Bp. Pabillo as having said, "We are elated. This proves that a great portion of the online community understands the dangers of mining especially the one in Tampakan. Malacañang should stop the Tampakan mining project or at least, answer our arguments against it."
Pabillo explained that the Social Action Center of Marbel through the help of the Dioceses of Kidapawan, Marbel and Digos have already gathered 170,000 signatures from the areas surrounding the site.
Pabillo, who chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action, added, "As you can see, the project is very unpopular in its very vicinity. The Change.org petition is an inclusive attempt to broaden the opposition against SMI and compliment the efforts of our local allies."
"I am pretty sure," Pabillo continued, "that this online initiative will further strengthen the resolve of the people around Tampakan to fight destructive mining. To encourage them more, we are also planning to furnish them copies of the very supportive comments of those who signed the petition at Change.org."
PMPI said that aside from Filipinos, the online petition has also received support from foreigners.
It said one of them is Paul Snazell from Halstead, United Kingdom who commented, "This open cast mining scheme is for corporate greed and not economic need. The Philippine Nation will receive a pittance compared to what SMI and Xstrata will make from selling the gold and copper to the commodities market."
SMI's copper-gold mining project straddles Tampakan, Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan town in Davao del Sur.
SMI is now controlled by Glencore Xstrata plc following the merger of Glencore International plc and Xstrata plc.
The company had said it would employ the open-pit mining method for its operation, a move strongly opposed by environment groups and the Roman Catholic Church.
Moreover, the provincial government of South Cotabato approved in 2010 an ordinance banning the open-pit mining method.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje issued in February this year a conditional environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to SMI despite the ban.
Among the conditions cited in the ECC were the settlement of the question on social acceptability, protection of the rights of indigenous people, land access under the Department of Agrarian Reform and the willingness to assume continuing liability over any environmental damage.
In January last year, the DENR cited the ban in denying SMI's application for ECC. The company appealed the decision but the DENR rejected it on the same ground.
The petition against SMI can be viewed online at change.org/tampakan. (MindaNews)
Mining and Water Use in South Cotabato and Davao del Sur
Summary of the presentation of the research results delivered last 19 June 2013 in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
Leah Vidal, Ph. D. (Ateneo Institute of Anthropology)
Maricel Hilario-Patiño (Ateneo Institute of Anthropology)
Lourdes Simpol, Ph. D. (Tropical Institute for Climate Studies)
A. The Mining Project and Locale
One of the difficulties encountered during the beginning of this research was the absence of maps. So, maps were created to visually illustrate the complexity and gravity of the impact of mining, not only on the physical but on the political and cultural landscape as well.
The locale of the Tampakan Copper- Gold Mining Project can be divided into three major areas depending on its project components. These are the Final Mining Area, the Resettlement Area, as well as the Off-lease Infrastructure Area. The final mining area, or FMA includes the areas covered by the open pit, waste rock storage facility, waste rock conveyor, tailings storage facility, ore conveyor, concentrator, freshwater dam, and other related structures. The resettlement areas are the places where the people who will be displaced as a result of the project will be relocated. The Off-lease infrastructures or OLI include the slurry pipeline to transport the concentrate produced at the mine site to the filter plant which will dewater the concentrate, a coal fire power station, transmission lines from the coal fire power station to the mining areas, and a port facility (http://www.smi.com.ph/EN/OurProject/Pages/InfrastructureOutsidetheMineSi...).
The Final Mining Area (FMA) covers approximately 9,605 hectares of land located between the quadrant boundaries of Kiblawan municipality of Davao del Sur Columbio municipality in Sultan Kudarat, Malungon municipality of Sarangani, and Tampakan in South Cotabato. The B'laan's ownership over the ancestral domains affected by the mining project is formally recognized by the Philippine Government. The areas identified, delineated, and substantiated with proofs by various indigenous groups to be part of their ancestral territories have been awarded by the Philippine Government with Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT). The mining project straddles the quadrant boundaries of 4 municipalities belonging to 4 different provinces, as well as 4 CADT areas. It creates a very complex political dynamics which require complicated negotiations with and among four municipal LGUs, and for 4 heterogenous collection of B'laan clans to negotiate with the mining company, with each other, and several layers of LGUs and government agencies.
In terms of the biophysical environment, the project will directly impact on waterways and watersheds, and will have cumulative effects on biophysical elements of whole ecosystems, from ridge to reef.
The FMA is located within the headwaters of six catchments. Mal in the east and northeast, Manteo in the south, Altayan and Taplan in the west, Dalul in the north, and Mainit in the west, with a significant portion of these lying within the Mal, Altayan, and Taplan catchments. The project will directly affect two river systems --- The Mal River in the eastern portion, and the Taplan River and its associated tributaries in the western portion (EIS, 2011, ES-9). The Mal River, which is fed by the Bong Mal and Tukay Mal Rivers and joins the Padada River and finally empties into the Davao Gulf some 50 kilometers from the project site, will be affected by the Tailings Storage Facility and the Fresh Water Dam (EIS, 2011, ES-9). Meanwhile, Taplan River will be affected because the Project's open pit lies within the sub-catchments of Altayan and Taplan Rivers. Both rivers drain to Lake Buluan in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and some 43 kilometers downstream from the project site (EIS, 2011, ES-9). Based on the maps, the open pit will clear the broadleaf closed canopy forest vegetation cover. This will result in the fragmentation of the forested areas. About 1,000 existing households (approximately 5,000) people from the directly affected areas, particularly Tampakan and Kiblawan are going to be displaced by the project. They will be resettled after their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) has been obtained before the mining construction begins (http://www.smi.com.ph/ EN/Resettlement/Pages/homedefault.aspx). In Tampakan, 456 households will be relocated from the three affected barangays. Sixty-two of these households are B'laan and 16 are non-IPs. In Kiblawan, on the other hand, 414 households will be relocated, 397 of which are B'laan and 17 are non-Ips (EIS, 2011, 6-5 and 6-6). The potential resettlement sites shown in the map below will affect 9 barangays: Datal Biao in Colombio, Sultan Kudarat, Kimlawis, Bololsalo and Tacub in Kiblawan Davao del Sur, Blaan and Malabod in Malungon, Saranggani, and Danlag, Pulabato and Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Initially, SMI planned that it shall transport the ore via an underground concentrate pipeline from the Ore Crushing Conveyor Loading Station in Tablu to a purpose-built port complex in Malalag, Davao del Sur. While not abandoning Malalag as an option, SMI explored the possibility of the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone Development Corporation (KAIDEC) in Maasim, Sarangani as an alternative for their off-lease infrastructure (OLI) facilities (XST 380 Offlease Infrastructure Factsheet_WED.pdf). This component, however, was left out from the current EIA submitted with permission from the EMB. This will have an even wider impact on the ecosystem particularly of the Sarangani Province and the Sarangani Bay.
C. The EIA Review
1. The Conduct of the EIA for the Final Mine Area of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining Project
• Activities Done
Public Scoping: After the project briefing, SMI conducted separate public scoping activities in Tampakan, Malungon, Kiblawan, and Columbio from November 17 to 20, 2009 respectively. Each public scoping activity lasted for one day.
The documentation of the public scoping activities that SMI submitted as one the appendices of the EIS included only the list of issues that were identified in the Public Scoping activities in Tampakan, Malungon, Kiblawan, and Columbio. The issues the participants were most interested in included the EIA study and the preparation of the EIS, Project Description and identification of impact areas, water quantity and quality and how this will impact agricultural activities, displacement and relocation, and access and distribution to project benefits.
However, as the documentation was only a listing of issues which are summary in nature, there was no context on who raised what issue and how . The documentation also does not reveal how the proponents responded to the questions and issues by the participants during the public scoping.
EIA Results: AECOM finished the first draft of the Environmental Impact Statement and submitted it for internal review of Hansen Bailey on July 2010. After undergoing three revisions following the comments of Hansen Bailey and SMI, the EIS was submitted to the EMB for procedural review on December 17, 2010.
Presentation and public disclosure: Reportedly, AECOM conducted 48 disclosure meetings and five public consultations, which included 118 stakeholders groups from June 9 through August 31, 2011. It is a data gap why a public consultation was conducted in lieu of a public hearing. The Public Consultations on the EIS were conducted in Tampakan in South Cotabato, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Malungon in Sarangani, and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat on September 6, 8, 13 and 15 respectively.
• Recovering Voices
Some important issues that emerged during the consultation remained unanswered
The EIA had an incomplete picture: They should have used the watershed framework and followed the watershed continuum. Why was the EIA for the mining area separated from the Off-lease infrastructure, as if they are separate projects?
The consultations were not conducive to participation: The venue was the gym and the crowd was very big. There was too much technical information. People were intimidated by the language used. People had stage fright because they had to use the mike. There was lack of time to raise all our issues.
It lacked analysis of IP issues: Isn't their belief land is life? Why are they giving away their land? The NCIP has not been helpful in clarifying their position. No analysis on customary laws on leadership and governance and how this changed after the mining company came. Some of the leaders SMI is dealing with are not traditional leaders but are clan members who are tapping the bloodline to accrue benefits from the project. Lacks discussion on violence and marginalization process against customary leaders like the Capions.
No study on human rights: No actual survey of occupants. No assessment of land rights situation in the area, Freedom of movement around the area has been restricted.
Not effective as a planning tool: Voluminous, English, Highly technical. It is not for LGU consumption, It's not accessible to the layman, The data could only be understood by researchers, We do not have the technical capability and are only banking that SMI-Xstrata is a big company.
2. EIA Review: WATER
• Water Quality
The following are the conclusions after thorough analysis of the water quality report:
1. The EIA did not use standard practices for water sampling. Conditions during sampling were not specified (time and weather conditions) and chain or custody is not specified. Who can attest to validity of samples? Who were the responsible parties or people who undertook the monitoring?
2. The water quality data on field are not acceptable because of serious deficiencies in methodologies, absence of documentation, reliability and credibility. Calibration and standardization documentation is not presented and no clear indication on how these were done. Although the laboratory which conducted the analysis is thorough in the reporting, the problem of sampling is still questionable.
3. Due to the above mentioned deficiencies, the water quality data cannot be used for future monitoring or modeling.
There are data gaps that are identified which are crucial for the study:
1. No correlation of water quality on health and livelihood or consumption. For example Mal and Taplan rivers are utilized in fishing and irrigation. What can be said about the state of the water and its effect to livelihood or consumption at the moment and what will be the different scenarios in the future. There are areas with high coliform count yet being used by the community for drinking, there was no study correlating the health of the people and water quality.
2. No identified sampling sites for future monitoring. Among all the sites sampled from each watersheds where would the critical monitoring sites be located.
3. No identified indicator parameters for monitoring (general for the identified sampling sites and specific to particular sites if necessary).
4. Over-all how many samplings were done? Data on annex in some areas are ranges, but most are single entries. Are these averages? If averages what is the standard deviation value.
• Water Quantity
In contrast to the Water Quality data sets used for analysis, the water quality data sets attached in the annexes are very, very minimal. The former has more than 3000 pages of data sets in the annexes while the latter has less than 10 pages.
An outline of data source was enumerated in the report for methodology of data collection for the surface water models. However, proofs of these data enumerated cannot be found in the Annexes.
No analysis of simulation of data (in form of graphs or scenario) was presented in the report. What were reported in all the modeling reports are results derived from analysis and simulation.
The above concern on lack of data reported brings to deeper concern at the moment, the added risks due to climate change. No thorough historical presentation of weather and climate related extremes were done in the watersheds within the project site.
An important data gap that was not reported is water allocation for all the stakeholders in the affected watershed.
Accompanying map may be downloaded by clicking here
Consultations in Mankayan a mockery
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) statement http://www.katutubongmamamayan.org/node/372
31 July 2013
Consent given by indigenous peoples in Mankayan, Benguet to allow South African mining company Gold Fields Ltd. is described as a mockery of the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) by indigenous people's alliance Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP.)
According to KAMP, the FPIC process overseen by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was irregular and inconclusive of the communities' decisions. "Opposition to the mining project is blatant, persistent, and strong, as proven by a number of actions made by mine workers, residents, and affected communities since LCMC started operations in 1936. A barricade has been set up for a year in Tabio, to prevent drilling equipment from entering their territories. A petition in Bulalacao has made it clear that they will not allow expansion operations in their lands. Protest actions, community declarations, and other people's initiatives against mining operations and expansion are many, a hundredfold of the ‘yes' votes that the NCIP managed to cull. How could the NCIP interpret this as consent?" Piya Macliing Malayao, an Igorot and KAMP spokesperson said.
According to its implementing guidelines, the FPIC must include all affected communities. This is pointed out by KAMP and local affiliate Cordillera People's Alliance-Mankayan. "Most of the community members in Tabio and Bulalacao did not participate in voting, in protest of how the FPIC process was being done by the NCIP. First off, the communities are not informed adequately of the issues at hand, and why their consent is being solicited," Malayao said.
KAMP says that consent must include all affected communities downstream the Agno River, not only Mankayan. "What the NCIP pushes to pass for a consent will definitely be defied by thousands of people in Benguet and downstream communities," Malayao said.
"Some of the residents even believed that a ‘yes' vote was for Goldfields, while the ‘no' was for Lepanto. Other communities heard a range of issues for voting, from permissions to convert the MPSA to FTAA to permission to conduct geotechnical activities."
Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) held by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC) will be converted into a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement with Goldfields Ltd., expanding the effects of 70-year-old mines in Mankayan to adjacent province Ilocos Sur.
The indigenous group also assailed a local government official for voting ‘yes,' supposedly representing one barangay. "The local government's mandate is to consult with its constituents and represent their issues and welfare, not facilitate mining. This is a betrayal," Malayao claims. Mankayan mayor Materno Luspian voted as an elder of barangay Poblacion.
KAMP calls on the NCIP to conduct further consultations among affected residents. "This is a debauchery of indigenous people's rights to self-determination. The NCIP must ensure that the people's rights are protected, and not be facilitators of plunder and violations of our rights as indigenous peoples," Malayao said.
This is not over, Malayao said. "There is no consent. Goldfields and the NCIP did not get the people's consent. This is a mockery of the core of the FPIC, which purportedly lays down the basis for informed and unified decision-making by indigenous communities. Instead, mining companies in collusion with the NCIP had subverted this process into a means to divide, manipulate, and weaken our socio-political structures in decision-making." Malayao added.
Mining firm's fate still hanging
By Maria Elena Catajan
Sun Star Baguio
29 July 2013
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Protesters opposing the entry of Far Southeast Gold Resources, Inc. (FSGRI) stormed into the Dangwa hall of the municipal building halting the counting of ballots, cast by over 300 elders and residents, to allow the mining firm to operate in Mankayan.
National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) facilitated the casting of secret ballots Saturday morning only to be halted by protesters from the Save Mankayan Movement (SMM).
Protesters camped out fronting the Municipal Hall all morning in silent opposition to the culmination of the Free Prior and Informed Consent proceedings set for the weekend with elders and residents voting for or against the entry of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation's (LCMC) newest investor.
Violence broke out around 4 p.m. after all 305 casted their secret ballots and was awaiting the official counting and declaration of the winning decision.
The counting has been temporarily halted as of press time to pacify and secure the area.
LCMC administration manager Ventutimo Masindo said reports reached to him that protesters forced their way into the hall and attempted to lambast those present.
Protesters demanded ballot boxes not to be opened and talks to resume first despite elder leaders who were included in the voting process urging counting to resume.
As of press time, a dialog with SMM and the elders in the community with the NCIP is ongoing.
Masindo said added police force was requested from reserve forces in the area to assure safety of all present in the hall.
The town is now set to give out their verdict to determine if the FSGRI application for a Foreign and Technical Assistance Agreement with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has a green light.
Benguet elders OK mining deal
By Frank Cimatu
Inquirer Northern Luzon
29 July 2013
MANKAYAN, Benguet-Indigenous elders in this mining town voted to allow South African mining giant Gold Fields Ltd. to proceed with and assume majority control over one of the biggest gold and copper mining ventures in the country.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) oversaw the process of securing the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of 400 Mankayan elders in eight villages in Saturday's voting.
Republic Act No. 8371 (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997) requires all government and private development projects to inform and secure clearance from indigenous Filipinos living in areas that these undertakings intend to exploit.
Gold Fields partnered with Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. (LCMC) to develop the Far Southeast porphyry ore deposit. LCMC, which started operations in 1936, owns 60 percent of the Far Southeast gold project.
The project is considered a major mine investment because of the capitalization needed to develop the ore and the projected profits it would generate, according to Felizardo Gacad Jr., chief of the mine environment and safety division of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the Cordillera.
In its website, LCMC said: "The updated mineral resource of the Far Southeast porphyry copper deposit at a cutoff grade of 0.7 percent Cu (copper) equivalent is 657 million tons grading 0.65 percent Cu and 0.94 g/t (grams per ton) Au (gold). At a cutoff grade of 1.5 percent Cu equivalent, the mineral resource is 180 million tons at 0.80 percent Cu and 1.70 g/t Au."
It said the estimated ore reserve, at a cutoff grade of 1.5 percent copper equivalent, is "120 million tons grading 0.80 percent Cu and 1.5 g/t Au."
The Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), in an online report on the country's mining potential, identified Far Southeast in Benguet, Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya and Dizon Extension in Zambales as among the major gold-copper deposits in the country.
The Mankayan community approval allows Gold Fields to infuse 20 percent more into the project, increasing its stake from 40 percent (valued at $220 million) to 60 percent by buying $110-million worth of shares from LCMC.
The elders, representing the villages of Colalo, Cabiten, Bulalacao, Paco, Poblacion, Sapid, Suyoc and Tabio, were asked to decide whether they would allow the project's investors to convert two portions of their mineral production sharing agreements into an FTAA (financial and/or technical assistance agreement), said Bernadette Badecao, NCIP Cordillera team leader who administered the FPIC process.
The NCIP said 283 elders voted in favor of the project while 51 others rejected it.
Following the vote, the villages would also select elders who would negotiate on their behalf for royalty terms in a proposed memorandum of agreement with the mining company, said Ambrosio Guanso, leader of the Mankayan Ancestral Domain Indigenous Peoples Organization.
At noon on Saturday, a picket mounted by members of antimining group Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) in front of the municipal hall had turned violent. The protesters, however, were pacified later by police and Army soldiers.
Two previous FPIC consultations were also disrupted by SMM.
"I was almost punched by a protester whose wedding I even officiated. Another one was also set to throw a rock at me," said Mankayan Mayor Materno Luspian, who voted as an elder of Poblacion village.
Earlier, 31 elders from Barangay Bulalacao sent a petition urging fellow elders not to approve the project. Those from Barangay Upper Tabeo also filed a petition in the NCIP questioning the FPIC process, saying it was biased.
The SMM, through another petition, asked the NCIP to void the FPIC and the votes cast on Saturday.
Magellan Bagayao, LCMC resident manager, said the project would revive the economy of Mankayan.
Bishop says Subanen voiceless vs mining
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12 August 2013
ZAMBOANGA CITY-Members of the indigenous Subanen communities in at least three villages of Bayog town in Zamboanga del Sur, where large mining firms have concessions, are opposed to mineral explorations there but are too afraid to speak up against them, a Protestant prelate said.
Bishop Antonio Ablon of Iglesia Filipina Independiente's Diocese of Pagadian issued the statement after leading a 100-member fact-finding mission in the villages of Bubuan, Liba and Conacon in Bayog.
The fact-finding mission started its investigation of mining operations in July.
Bayog Mayor Leonardo Babasa Jr. admitted that at least three companies hold concessions in Bayog. These are TVI Resources Development (TVIRD), 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining and Peng Cheng Metallic Resources Corp.
"The people are afraid to talk. Fears are in their eyes. Many expressed their sufferings, their fears of armed men working for mining corporations and politicians but they refused to put it into an affidavit," Ablon told the Inquirer here on Friday.
From among villagers they have interviewed, Ablon said only two, one of them a teenager, spoke about harassment by armed men but they, too, would not put their complaints in writing.
"A frightening situation has gripped the town of Bayog as more than a hundred people have been reported to have been summarily executed [over the past months]. Residents believe that the extrajudicial killings going on were related to the operations of TVI Resources Development," he said.
Kaycee Crisostomo, TVIRD communications director, admitted that the company was operating in Bayog but its activities were limited to clearing the area of toxic substances and explosive materials that illegal miners had left behind, and the conduct of a "pilot plant test."
"We gather some samples from Balabag (a sitio of Barangay Conacon in Bayog) and compare them to those extracted from Canatuan (a village in Siocon town) to determine if we can mine the optimum quality of minerals," Crisostomo said.
Aside from those activities, she said TVIRD would not engage in actual mining because it would need "permit and approval" from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Arnel Cudia, head of the MGB's mining environment and safety division in western Mindanao, said TVIRD could not engage in mineral extraction in Balabag as its permit is only within Canatuan.
Babasa dismissed the claim of Ablon about the fear of mining companies among Subanen folk saying it could be a ploy by illegal small-scale miners' groups, such as Monte de Oro, to railroad the planned operation of legitimate companies.
"From my understanding, [Ablon's group] is in favor of small-scale mining operations," he said.
Babasa said he also could not understand why Ablon's group was making it appear the concession holders had been operating already when the truth was that they were still in the exploration stage and that they still needed to secure permits before they could embark on actual mining.
Ablon said the government conduct further investigation on the dates of reported killings, protect witnesses and victims, and uphold the interest of the communities. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
Philex still needs to clean up, pay compensation - indigenous peoples
By Marya Salamat
2 August 2013
Philex "must understand that it is being punished for its unsafe and irresponsible mining practices, which is the basis for the fine." It is the company's responsibility to cleanup and rehabilitate the waters it damaged, and to compensate the adversely affected residents. - KAMP
MANILA - Bearing mugshots of DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, Philex Mining Corp. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, and President Noynoy Aquino III, the indigenous peoples and environment activists called the trio ‘criminals' who should be arrested for crimes against the environment and the indigenous peoples. They picketed the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Aug 1, a year after Philex's Padcal mines began dumping million tons of minewastes downstream.
"The collusion of these three in facilitating mining is costing us our national patrimony, environmental integrity, and the safety and welfare of our people. A year ago today, the true nature of mining in the Philippines was exposed by the disaster: our mining industry is plunderous, unsafe, and irresponsible," declared Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP).
The group demanded that Philex be made to pay "just compensation to affected communities, including the downstream communities in Pangasinan."
"Philex should take responsibility for the adverse effects of its operations in Itogon and Tuba (towns of Benguet) and in the communities downstream of Agno River. The communities of San Manuel, San Felipe East, and San Felipe West were also severely affected by the mine spill, and by the protracted effects of the five-decade mine operations," Malayao said.
KAMP said Philex "must understand that it is being punished for its unsafe and irresponsible mining practices, which is the basis for the fine." It said it is the company's responsibility to cleanup and rehabilitate the waters it damaged, and to compensate the adversely affected residents. "We demand no less from Philex," Malayao said.
Philex profited billions but wreak havoc on environment, people
In the nearly six decades of Philex's operations, it has extracted million tons of gold and copper from what used to be ancestral territories of indigenous peoples in Benguet. But according to Malayao, in return for vacating their territories, the indigenous peoples' benefits had been scarce. They are forced to live in an unsafe environment, while some of them who became mineworkers have to bear scant benefits and poor working conditions. As such, Malayao said the indigenous peoples have "every right to exact clean up and compensation demands from Philex."
Philex Mining Corporation's gold mine in Padcal, Benguet lies at the heart of the Cordilleras. KAMP said it now hosts a mining community of 14,000 people composed mostly of indigenous peoples. The mine site covers 95 hectares of lands. Before the mining operations began more than five decades ago, Malayao said the land, mountains, and rivers were the sources of livelihood, culture, and way of life of the Igorot tribes.
KAMP assailed the DENR, saying it is abandoning its mandate to protect the environment and natural resources. In allowing Philex to resume full commercial operations, "the DENR is practically overseeing the continued destruction of the environment and putting our people in danger," Malayao said. (http://bulatlat.com)
IP group slams government funding of Philex Mining Corp
2 August 2013
Indigenous people's organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) criticized the Aquino government for continuing to allow government funds to finance ‘environmentally destructive and plunderous' Philex Mining Corporation.
""The government's ownership of stocks in Philex is a misuse of public funds. Public money's purpose is to benefit the public interest, not of private individuals or business," Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP said.
Eleven of the former executives of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines' (DBP) were ordered for arrest yesterday by the Sandiganbayan, over a scandal involving granting a P660 million loan to businessman Roberto V. Ongpin in 2009. Loans acquired by Ongpin were used to buy DBP shares on Philex Mining Corp.
"This controversy reveals the collusion between government financial institutions and shady businessmen, and the huge profits they acquire by using the people's money. Worse, the business funded by taxpayers' money are the same ones who plunder our natural resources and destroy the environment, like Philex Mining," Malayao stated.
Social Security System (SSS) and the DBP formerly owned an aggregate of 24% of stocks in 2009, worth around P9.3 billion. SSS remains one of the major stockholders of Philex, owning 20.58% of the company.
Investing the people's money on businesses that violate people's rights, destroy the environment, and plunders our natural wealth is a revolting use of our money," Malayao added.
The group also expressed their doubt that corporations with government financial backing will be culpable for its crimes. "The government's interest in extractive industries casts doubt over the accountability of these companies. Mining has especially huge socio-economic impact to the people. Besides its destructive effects to the environment and livelihoods, extractive industries such as mining is implicated in several extrajudicial-killings. We doubt that the government will go after companies in favor of the people's welfare, when there are billions at stake," Malayao claimed.
KAMP earlier criticized the ‘lenient' punishment that Philex Mining Corp. received after its tailings dam failed, dumping 20 million metric tons of mine tailings to the Agno River, a major tributary watering several indigenous and peasant communities the Cordillera and Pangasinan. The Philex mine disaster is described by environmentalists as the worst mining disaster in Philippine history. Philex was made to pay a penalty of P1.034 billion, and has now resumed full operations.
Malayao said that the government should divest all investments in mining corporations, to ensure that the people's welfare is enshrined within government institutions. "The government's financing of Philex mining makes it equally guilty of environmental destruction and plunder of our natural resources. We demand the pull-out of public funds in Philex, and other enterprises that violate people's rights and usurp our national patrimony," she said.
Green groups want Philex P1-B fine, resumption of commercial operations investigated
A year after, still no accountability in PH's biggest environmental crime
Kalikasan PNE Press Release
1 August 2013
QUEZON CITY - On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Mine Disaster in Benguet caused by the Philex Mining Corporation, environmental activists from the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) led a protest action at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office calling for a full independent investigation of the national government's handling of the mine spill case.
"A year after Philex caused the biggest mining disaster in Philippine history, it has already resumed commercial operations while dodging its responsibility to fully restore affected ecosystems and to pay full and just compensation to affected communities and people. The Aquino government has clearly let Philex off the hook a month after it paid a piecemeal fine, and this must immediately be investigated," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Philex payed PHP1.034 billion in penalty fines to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of DENR (MGB-DENR) on February 18, 2013. On February 26, MGB already allowed Philex to resume commercial operations for four months, allegedly to allow the corporation's rehabilitation efforts to continue.
"In the first place, the PHP1.034-B is a pittance compare to the needed amount to rehabilitate the Agno River and its various affected tributaries. The National Power Corporation alone is demanding P6.24-B from Philex for the 13.51 million cubic meters of mine waste it deposited in the San Roque Dam and damages done to the watershed. Second, the Padcal mine's temporary operation should be immediately suspended as the company is using the same structurally compromised tailings dam, and the chance of another mine tailings disaster occurring from it is not a remote possibility. Third, the P1.034-B should have been spent for impact assessment, river rehabilitation, and compensation to downstream communities in Pangasinan, but where is it now?" questioned Bautista.
"DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and MGB Director Leo Jasareno should be investigated on why they extended the temporary operation of Philex and where the PHP1.034 billion went. With so much corruption recently being exposed under the Aquino government and with DENR failing to be transparent where the money was spent, a serious investigation from the Department of Justice and Congress is warranted."
"There is hard evidence that Philex caused massive pollution and environmental destruction, but the Aquino regime chose to ignore this pending its own investigation. Why does this not apply to Philex's resumption when government has yet to ascertain the safety of its operations? This political accommodation of environmental criminals speaks of rampant corruption in the bureaucracy. We sincerely hope this double standard was not bought for a low price of 1.034 billion pesos," Bautista ended.
Results of an independent environmental investigation mission last year confirmed the serious negative impacts of the structural failure of Philex's tailings dam on downstream communities and the environment. The affected Balog River was rendered biologically dead, and heavy metal levels reached as high as 4.5 times the threshold limit. Fisheries and irrigation water were also greatly affected.###
Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator Kalikasan PNE - 0922 844 9787
KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core.
Meralco, Philex in talks for coal power plant in Surigao
By Iris C. Gonzales
The Philippine Star
26 June 2013
MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining Corp. and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) are in talks for the possibility of putting up an 80-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Surigao del Norte said Manuel V. Pangilinan, who chairs both companies.
"I think they've (Philex) approached Meralco to see if they're interested," he said.
Pangilinan said the project is related to the mining firm's operations in the province.
"That is related to the development of the mining project in Surigao del Norte so for the mine to proceed and see light of day in terms of commercial operations, we need up to 80 MW," he said.
The target for the commercial operation of the mine is 2017, Pangilinan said, although he declined to provide specific investment figures.
"We're investing. Philex continues to invest about P10 billion each year for the development of the mine," Pangilinan said.
Meralco PowerGen, Meralco's power generation subsidiary, and Global Business Power Corp. of the Metrobank Group have signed an agreement early this year for potential power projects in Mindanao.
The Surigao del Norte mine involves the Silangan project, located at the northern part of the Philippines' second-largest island of Mindanao and combines the development of the Boyongan and Bayugo deposits, which are comprised of gold, copper and silver.
In Februrary 2009, Philex consolidated its interest in the Silangan project by purchasing the remaining 50 percent equity held by Anglo American Exploration BV and Anglo American Exploration (Philippines) Inc. for $55 million, the company said.
The project is covered by Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) 149-99-XIII and Exploration Permit (EP) XII-03.
The exploration's objectives include the formal declaration of mineral resource compliant with the Philippine Mineral Resource Code, the development of the exploration decline aimed at reaching the deposits at depth needed for further assessment, and the initiation of engineering studies and development infrastructure in support of the feasibility study.
Surigao mayor says mining no place in her town
By Roel Catoto
8 August 2013
SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/08 August) - The mayor of Bacuag, Surigao del Norte has this piece of advice for mining firms which may want to operate in the town: Go find another place for your investments.
Saying she would junk all mining applications, Mayor Shiela Mae Orquina-Cebedo said the mining firms better not waste their investments in her town.
Now in her last term as mayor, Cebedo said she had rejected several applications for mining exploration during her second term in office.
She, however, did not name the mining firms whose applications were turned down.
"I don't want irreparable damage to happen in my town. I fear the negative effects that may emerge if mining firms are allowed to exploit mineral reserves in our town. Maybe they can apply soon after I step down, but not now while I'm the mayor," she said, adding many local people also asked her to block the applications.
"I'm not against responsible mining. I just don't want any mining activities in my town," Cebedo explained.
Bacuag is surrounded by mining towns like Placer, Claver, Tubod and Tagana-an.
She said a mining company in one town came in with many promises but when environmental problems occurred only the local government was left to face such problems.
Cebedo was apparently referring to Tubod where the Greenstone Resources Corporation closed its mining and milling operations due to a crack on its tailings storage facility number 4 on April 26 this year.
She said she is now urging the Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to declare the town as an ecotourism site instead of making it as a mining area.
Bacuag has several caves and some of them are unexplored, the mayor said.
Bacuag is a fifth class municipality where fishing and farming are the primary livelihoods of its 12, 200 residents including members of the Mamanwa tribe.
Chamber of Mines Caraga president Dulmar Raagas has not reacted so far to Cebedo's statements.
Meanwhile, environment groups lauded the stance of the mayor saying at least there is a town in the province that has resisted large-scale mining.
Nookie Calunsag, media campaign officer of the Green Mindanao Inc., said a mining-free town means sustainable livelihood for the farmers and fisherfolk.
He said mining would not just leave toxic elements in the areas where they operate but will also pollute streams, rivers and the sea as well.
Calunsag was referring to Claver Bay, a fish breeding ground in Surigao del Norte which is now heavily silted, a problem blamed on the operations of large-scale mining firms in the area.
Surigao del Norte is known as the mining hub of the country due to the presence of several large-scale mining companies. Nickel and gold are among the minerals being extracted and shipped to countries like China, Japan, Australia, Canada, Korea and Switzerland. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)
Surigao Sur environmentalist fears for life; says mining, logging and politics behind threats
By Roel Catoto
19 July 2013
SURIGAO CITY(MindaNews/19 July)-"My life is now becoming harder," said Chito Trillanes, who for two months now has been hiding in different safe houses afraid that he would be killed.
Trillanes is the spokesperson of the Social Action Center (SAC) in the Vicariate of Carrascal-Cantilan-Madrid-Carmen-Lanuza and Parang Zone (CarCanMadCarLanPar) in Surigao del Sur.
As the SAC spokesperson, he's been leading the campaign against destructive mining and logging in their area. He believed that leading the campaign earned him the ire of powerful businessmen and politicians in the province.
In the last elections, Trillanes rallied behind several politicians who have the same advocacy with the SAC.
"This advocacy contributed to the victory of anti-mining advocate candidates like Cantilan Mayor Genito Guardo," he said.
"Suko kayo sila kay napildi man ang ilang mga pro-mining bet (They're very angry because their pro-mining bets lost during the elections)," Trillanes told MindaNews on the phone Friday.
Trillanes said he has no police or military escort to provide him security.
On Friday, the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. issued a statement saying that on May 24, Trillanes's mother was awakened by a suspicious noise at their house in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.
When she turned on the light at their veranda, she saw two bonnet-wearing men who rushed to a parked motorcycle and hastily left, it added.
Two months before that happened, Trillanes said he had received information that an influential personality in the province allegedly wants him liquidated.
While he did not give a name, Trillanes said that person "is involved in mining, logging and politics."
Trillanes said that some of his fellow environmentalists have already been killed, including tribal leader Datu Manuel "Kajugjug" Gardigo, a Manobo chieftain from Barangay Agsam in Lanuza town who was shot five times by still unidentified suspects last May.
He said Gardigo was one of the leaders opposing illegal logging activities particularly in the concession of Surigao Development Corporation.
Another environmental activist, Dr. Isidro Olan, was ambushed in Carmen, Surigao del Sur last October but he survived the slay try. He was wounded by a bullet on the right shoulder.
Olan is the founder and executive director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation based in his hometown. He is an active member of the SAC in the Vicariate of CarCanMadCarLanPar.
Trillanes said the attacks against environmentalists will not deter his campaign against mining and illegal logging activities in the area.
On Monday, the PMPI said it will file a comprehensive report on the harassments being suffered by Trillanes at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
"We believe that the motive behind the harassment on Chito Trillanes has something to do with his advocacy against destructive mining. Its clandestine nature, the fact that the identities of the ones doing the surveillance are yet to be known, further bolster his claim that his life and person are in danger should the surveillance continue. This must be stopped," Fr. Oliver Castor, PMPI project officer said in the statement.
Castor said that the Mindanao office of the human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines assisted them in finalizing the fact sheet for the case.
He also said that they will submit to the CHR a video of Trillanes explaining his experiences.
"Because of these threats, Trillanes is moving from one safe house to another although he continues to be active in the sidelines for the environmental campaigns of the SAC. No person, especially someone who dedicated his time to the defense of our natural resources, deserves this situation. We fervently hope that the CHR will act swiftly on this case, " Castor appealed. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)
MGB told: Davao opposes mining
Sun Star Davao
6 August 2013
THE City Council approved on second reading on Tuesday a resolution informing the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Central Office that Davao City is opposing the possible issuance of exploration permits to two mining companies covering several barangays in the city.
"There is a need to urgently notify the central offices of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and MGB to deny the request for authority of the two corporations to conduct mining explorations in Paquibato considering that even in this preparatory stage, people in all walks of life and their officials vehemently opposed in activities related to mining operation," copy of the approved resolution read.
The item got a unanimous vote from all the present members of the City Council during the deliberation Tuesday except for councilors Joanne Bonguyan (on sick leave), Marissa Salvador-Abella (on official business) and Nilo Abellera Jr. (absent).
The areas in Paquibato District that are covered of the possible issuance of exploration permits being applied by Alberto Mining Corporation and Pensons Mining Corporation are barangays Lumiad, Mapula, Salapawan and Tapak.
Engr. Geronimo Palermo, president of Pensons Mining Corporation and Alberto Mining Corporation, was requested to attend but failed to appear before the City Council.
During the discussion Tuesday, village chiefs and representatives of the indigenous peoples claimed that they were "short-changed on the assurance that their signatures on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) is only for the purposes of exploration in determining resources in the area, but not an integral part of application for mining operation."
The personalities who attended and spoke before the members of the City Council were Datu Ruben Labawan, Ata-Manobo IP community representative; Datu Rolly Latawan, barangay chief of Tapak, Paquibato District; Datu Jose Amban; Datu Mario Lausan; Doming Bucayla, barangay chief of Salapawan, Paquibato District; and Jaime Manyauron, barangay chief of Mapula, Paquibato District.
Further, Cristito Ingay, provincial officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), also testified their office was "not given the chance to assist the IPs involve to arrive a prior free consent on the subject matter in violation of the existing rules and regulations."
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao spokesperson Juland Suazo, who was also present on Tuesday's meeting, pointed out five major reasons why they are opposing mining in Davao City.
He said mining is "not the development path for Davao City vis-à-vis the study on its cost-benefits assessment under its current policy and practice; is a major threat to the environment and biodiversity, and to food and water security; divides the lumad and fosters corruption that bastardize their culture and traditions; and has resulted to militarization and human rights violations."
Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said the mining resolution has long been raised by the previous council but discussions were not pushed through due to midterm elections.
He said the said act of the MGB to give way to the application of exploration permits to two mining companies was violation to Local Government Code, violation to NCIP rules that there should be free prior informed consent on the part of NCIP.
"The committee will continue the committee hearing on mining-free zone," he said, adding that they will pursue this before proceeding to deliberating quarry activities in the city.
The MGB, represented by Atty. Wilfredo Montano, chief of Mine Management Division, clarified that there was no exploration done yet on the areas as previously manifested.
"No human activity has occurred in the area yet," he said, adding that he application of the two mining companies are still considered as a "mere piece of paper."
He explained that exploration is a process of scientific evaluation in the area.
"There are indications that there are minerals in Paquibato," he said.
The application for exploration permit was filed by Pensons Mining Corporation on July 8, 1997 covering a total area of 8,475.5971 hectares located at Barangay Tapak, Paquibato District. (Arianne Caryl N. Casas/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
"Davao wants 2 big mining applicants out of northern hinterlands"
Written by Manuel T. Cayon
7 August 2013
DAVAO CITY-The Davao City Council on Tuesday asked the Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB) to deny the application of two big mining companies exploring for gold and copper deposits in the northern hinterlands of this city.
The resolution penned by Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang served notice to the regional MGB office here that the city government "interposes strong opposition to the possible issuance of application of exploration permits" to Alberto Mining Corp. and Pensons Mining Corp.
Both mining companies were represented by one Geronimo S. Palermo, an engineer, in their respective filings of different regulatory documents.
Dayanghirang's committee on environment and natural resources said representatives of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (IPs) "admitted that they were not given the chance to assist the IPs" and that the barangay captains and tribal leaders "claimed that they were shortchanged on the assurance that their signatures on the memorandum of agreement is only for the purpose of exploration."
The council resolution said it would "urgently notify" the central offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the MGB that it was seeking their consideration to reject the applications of the two mining companies.
Lawyer Wilfredo Moncano, chief of the mines management division of the regional MGB office, said the city government resolution may surface again the repeated complaint of the mining industry over conflicting laws of the national government and local governments.
"We are just complying with and following the directives of the Philippine Mining Act, while the city government has invoked the Local Government Code, which is also a national law," he said.
He told the BusinessMirror that the applications for copper and gold exploration permits remained pending at the Office of the Environment Secretary after the regional office forwarded the application of the two companies in 2011.
Moncano said the regional office approved their application for exploration after the two companies submitted the documentation attesting to the compliance of the MGB requirements.
The two companies were applying for exploration permit application (Expa) over an area of about 8,000 hectares each in the Paquibato District, a large expanse of mountainous terrain to the north of downtown Davao.
He said the city government should forward its resolution immediately to the Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje before he would approve the Expa of both companies "so that he could consider rejecting the application over the opposition of the local government."
"Otherwise, when the secretary would have signed it before he could get hold of the resolution, then it would be another arena for debate with the local government," he said.
Moncano said, however, that he was surprised with the resolution that the application of the two companies carried the approval of the city government when the two companies made the rounds of filing their application.
"One city government requirement, for instance, was the posting for five days at a conspicuous place in the city hall so that other parties could file their objection. Because this was complied with already, we approved their application in 2011," he said.
SC stops mining operations in Zambales
By Tetch Torres-Tupas
23 July 2013
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the mining operations in Zambales and ordered the Court of Appeals to act on the petition filed by residents of the Municipality of Masinloc.
Petitioners Roberto Escobar and several others questioned the mass issuance of 94 small scale mining permits by Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane by using as basis the long repealed Marcos-era law.
"The petitioners allege that under Republic Act No. 7076, small scale mining operations can only be made in areas declared as ‘Minahang Bayan,'" petitioners said.
They pointed out that after small scale mining permits are issued, the actual mining operations conducted in Zambales turn out to be large scale mining ventures with the use of heavy equipment like backhoe and dump trucks.
Petitioners added that the small scale mining grantees are merely using the more relaxed requirements for small scale mining firms in order to circumvent stricter requirements under the law, since government has suspended the issuance of large scale mining permits in the meantime as mining policies are being reviewed.
Respondents in the petition include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Province of Zambales, the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB), and Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane, among others.
Black-ore gold rush scars Philippine coasts
by Cecil Morella
24 July 2013
CAOAYAN - Catholic priest Sammy Rosimo followed truck tread marks to a coastal mine in the northern Philippines, where a stockpile of fine black sand presided over scenes of a desert apocalypse.
Instead of tall, brush-covered sand dunes that have for centuries protected the small farming town of Caoayan from the powerful waters of the South China Sea, trenches cut through barren beaches.
"This is the death sentence of the people of Caoayan," said Rosimo, a local priest, as he accompanied AFP to the recently abandoned mine.
"The dunes are the natural barrier to the salt water, like a sea wall. Without them the sea floods inland at high tide."
As with many other beaches in the Southeast Asian archipelago, Caoayan's coast has been stripped in recent years for its magnetite, an iron ore that is in huge demand by China's steel mills.
Environment groups, national authorities and the nation's big miners all blame small-scale mining firms, most of them allegedly Chinese and often operating in collusion with shady local government officials, for the devastation.
"They're giving the industry a bad image," Ronald Recidoro, vice president of the country's Chamber of Mines, which groups 35 large miners, told AFP.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan, a coalition of environment groups, said the problem was particularly acute in four northern provinces, where dozens of beaches were in retreat and river banks crumbling.
"There was a school that was swallowed up by the sea water because of black-sand mining," Bautista said.
When AFP toured the area, the coast at San Vicente town near Caoayan had retreated inland by several metres (yards) from where the sand had been scooped up.
While the ocean has yet to spill into San Vicente or Caoayan, locals believe it is only a matter of time.
"We fear being swept out to sea. We asked our local officials to stop the mining, but they ignored us," a white-haired elderly woman from Caoayan told AFP.
The woman declined to give her name, saying she was wary of openly antagonizing local officials whom she accused of conniving with the miners.
The mine at Caoayan was shut in January by the national government's Mines and Geosciences Bureau, part of the environment ministry, for breaching a law against mining close to the ocean.
The firm's earthmovers, trucks and conveyor belts lay abandoned nearby. Officials from the company, which the bureau and provincial officials said was Chinese, could not be contacted for comment.
Carlos Tayag, regional chief of the mines bureau, said black-sand miners regularly flouted a law that banned all forms of mineral extraction inside 200 meters (656 feet) of the water's edge at low tide.
"The main impact is coastal erosion," Tayag told AFP.
Under the country's mining law, the environment ministry has regulatory oversight over big operations but not small-scale miners, who are defined as using only light equipment and no explosives.
Instead small-scale miners are licensed by local governments, which often lack the expertise or will to properly supervise them.
Bautista said corruption was a problem, with mining firms widely suspected of bribing local officials or offering to share profits with them to win licenses.
"Given the strong opposition of local communities against magnetite mining, the continuing operations of these Chinese (firms) in these provinces were likely made possible with the collusion of corrupt local government officials," Bautista said.
Tayag said the national government was able to step in and start closing some of the black-sand mining operations, such as the one at Caoayan, because it had breached the law banning extraction close to the water.
Tayag said most of the output from the operations was being shipped to China.
Recidoro, from the Chamber of Mines, said large miners were furious at the black-sand mining, which he said was being mainly done by Chinese firms and in many provinces across the country.
"You're disturbing the ecosystem there, and there should be a remediation process in place before you're allowed to do it," he said.
"For big mines like our members that would involve putting up anti-siltation measures, making sure whatever flora or fauna is found there is identified and protected, and the displaced native species must be replaced with the same native species."
Recidoro said the Chinese firms typically used Filipino front companies to secure mining permits from local officials.
Bautista said that while magnetite was the main mineral being mined on the coasts, Chinese entities were also involved in extraction of gold and nickel inland in some areas including Zambales province, near Manila.
Reports of Chinese nationals being caught for flouting mining laws have occurred frequently in recent years.
Authorities arrested 80 Chinese miners from one chromite mine in Zambales in 2010, and another eight at a similar chromite operation in the central island of Samar last year.
Luis Singson, interviewed by AFP shortly before his three-year term as governor of Ilocos Sur province ended last month, confirmed to AFP that he authorised several Chinese firms to mine for magnetite in Caoayan and San Vicente.
But he said residents had supported these projects, and the firms built village roads and school buildings as payback for the host communities.
"Why should I stop progress in those villages?" Singson said.
Singson also insisted mining magnetite was good for the environment, saying the black sand had washed down from the mountains "millions of years ago" and prevented vegetation or crops from growing along the coast.
"Black sand is not natural in those areas... it should be removed," he said.
Philippines detains 18 Chinese for illegal mining
6 August 2013
MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines has detained 18 Chinese men on suspicion of illegal black sand mining in the northern coastal town of Aparri, the justice department said on Tuesday.
Authorities say there has been a rise in the illegal extraction of magnetite - also known as black sand - which is an iron ore in huge demand by China's steel mills.
Justice department investigators raided two mine sites run by Chinese firm Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp. last Thursday and detained 18 of its employees, department spokesman Alex Lactao told AFP.
The company had a permit to dredge magnetite from a nearby river but not from the coast, he said. It is illegal to extract any minerals within 200 metres of a beach under Philippine law.
Palace exec heads anti-black sand mining task force
The Philippine Star - http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/08/05/1051761/palace-exec-heads-anti-black-sand-mining-task-force
5 August 2013
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines - A Palace official has been named head of a task force to go after illegal black sand mining in Cagayan.
Manuel Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, has been chosen by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), to head the task force, whose members include the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police.
The MICC, chaired by Emmanuel Esguerra, deputy director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, is under the Office of the President.
The Task Force on Black Sand Mining, which was created during MICC's consultative meeting last week, is tasked to investigate the black sand mining activities in Cagayan.
It was mandated to act, direct and recommend measures, "including enforcement of cease-and-desist order for illegal operators."
"With the task force, we are hopeful that we would be able to stop illegal black sand mining operations in the province, which are threatening our coastlines and marine resources, not to mention the danger they pose to the fishing communities," Mamba said.
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Earlier, Mamba, who hails from Cagayan where he had served as third district congressman, said the illegal mining operations would not thrive without the intercession of some powerful politicians.
"At stake here is not only millions of pesos but billions which only flows into the pockets of those who are abetting the illegal operations to the detriment of the environment and the very lives of our fishing communities," Mamba said.
Black sand or magnetite, a rich resource along Cagayan's northern coastlines, commands a high price in foreign markets, as it is used as additive in manufacturing concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry and cosmetics.
Black sand mining, according to reports, goes unabated in Cagayan's coastal towns of Gonzaga, Buguey, Camalaniugan, Lallo and Aparri, where 15 Chinese nationals were held for allegedly engaging in such operations.
The 15 Chinese, who were held by joint operatives of the MGB and NBI in last Thursday's raid, were working for Huaxia Trading and Mining Corp., which the MGB had ordered to stop extracting black sand after it was found out to have extended its operations beyond its permitted area or within the prohibited zone.
Mario Ancheta, MGB-Cagayan Valley director, said the foreigners are now in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration-Aparri district for proper verification after 13 of them were found to be undocumented aliens.
Mamba said black sand mining is also rampant along the shorelines of the Ilocos region and Zambales province. - Charlie Lagasca, Raymund Catindig
SONA 2013: What the Philippine President did not say
By Edwin Espejo
23 July 2013
It was an exhaustive narrative of what he has done so far and where the country now stands. President Benigno Aquino III was long in numbers as he addressed the nation for the fourth time in his presidency.
In so many words and figures, he enumerated the accomplishment of his administration by steering and making the country the best performing economy in Asia, with a Southeast Asia-best 7.8 percent Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter of this year. The accelerated growth was also accompanied by marked improvements in the country's overall credit ratings.
He also basked in the glory of the inroads his administration has made in the fight against corruption and minced no words in naming and shaming poor performing department heads and secretaries.
The President's 105-minute state of the nation address (SONA) was marked by at least 80 applauses from members of Philippine Congress and the gallery that included foreign dignitaries.
Not all, however, are happy or completely satisfied with President Aquino's accomplishments.
The normally staid and conservative business community said it wants more roadmaps and timetables of what the country will look like when he steps down in 2016, suggesting that continuity is paramount for the business sector.
As usual, the president's SONA was met by loud protests from the militant Left, who had brief violent clashes with riot police who blocked their way to the Batasang Pambansa building where Congress was holding its joint session.
But what were missing in the president's speech?
The business community was obviously disappointed the president made no mention about mining - the core of issues involving the country's rich natural resources and economic activity.
More than a year after pro- and anti-mining advocates clashed in a mining forum and after the release of Executive Order No. 79, the mining industry is still in limbo and the government still has to deliver on its promise to introduce amendments to Republic Act No. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995). At the core is the issue of revenue sharing. At present, all the government gets from mining operations is 2 percent excise tax in addition to income and other regular taxes. The government wants more but the mining industry warns it could drive investors away. Mining has become a thorny issue between pro- and anti-mining groups and the Aquino government is choosing to sit on the fence, it seems.
Human rights group are also alarmed over the lack of interest the Aquino government in addressing the continuing culture of impunity and violence in the country. New York-based Human Rights Watch said it was disappointed the president did not take "the opportunity to communicate to the military and the police that they will be held accountable for human rights violations" in his SONA. Although there was a brief mention of slain radio commentator and environmental activist Gerry Ortega, the president largely kept mum on political and media killings. Human Rights Watch fears the president's omission could embolden abusive state forces and officials in attacking critics and activists.
Advocates of press freedom were again disappointed. Four years after he promised to push for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, Aquino has seemed forgotten the long cherished legislative measure that media freedom advocates have been campaigning for since Day 1 of his presidency.
And while he dedicated four paragraphs of his speech to the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, he was eerily silent on the other insurgency front - one that is much older and more resilient than the Moro rebellion - the communist insurgency. His government has virtually shut the door for peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political umbrella of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed group, the New People's Army (NPA).
Coupled with his silence on political killings, many fear an escalation of violence and armed confrontation between the CPP-NPA and government forces in the remaining years of the Aquino presidency.
Even before Aquino's SONA, the Mindanao spokesperson of the NDF already warned of the "lies" of the president. NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos likewise belittled Aquino's economic accomplishments saying ‘rapid economic growth' is due to "the reality of the intensified crisis and the sharp decline of the people's standard and quality of living as a result the Aquino regime's insistence to pursue the neoliberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization."
Madlos also cited the ‘jobless growth' of the economy. Despite the 6.8 GDP increase in 2012, more workers - 11.88 million - are unemployed or effectively underemployed according to think tank IBON. The number of unemployed even increased by 48,000 to reach 4.4 million in 2012, IBON added.
And despite the hype of sustained economic growth under his administration, the Movement for Good Governance, a coalition of citizens and organizations, can only give the Aquino administration an overall 5.77 accomplishment rating (scale of 10) for 2012 - good, but just about average.
Rating the President (on the scale of 10)
2010 2011 2012
Economy 4.40 5.66 6.00
Public Finance 4.93 6.88 5.70
Health 3.00 3.17 5.50
Environment 4.70 5.20 5.30
Governance 4.50 6.50 6.62
Education 5.68 6.10 5.79
War against corruption - - 4.80
Agriculture - - 5.50
Total 4.69 5.59 5.77
Source: Movement for Good Governance
Incidentally, the late Jesse Robredo was among the members of the coalition. In his speech, the president cited Robredo, who was his interior and local government secretary before the cabinet member died in a plane crash in August last year.
Aquino has two more SONAs to come before he steps down in 2016 but he has yet to prove that the economic growth translates to more jobs and more food on the table. Before his ‘tuwid na daan' (straight path) slogan becomes another empty rhetoric, his administration has to see to it that the big grafters in government are convicted. And to begin with the former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is facing plunder raps.
Yes, the next three years will define where the second Aquino government will be placed in the history of Philippine governance. Not being tainted with corruption is not enough to leave behind a legacy.
Average is mediocrity when you occupy the highest office in the land. The president needs to do more in the area of social justice and resolving the inequities of the Philippine society. The clock is ticking.
Chamber takes positive look on SONA's silence on mining
24 July 2013
President Aquino was silent about mining during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday surprising the Chamber of Mines, an official said.
"We were a bit surprised, given the interactions we have had with the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) since Executive Order (EO) 79 was issued in July last year," said lawyer Ronald Recidoro, COMP vice president for legal and policy.
The MICC is a joint committee of the Economic Development Cluster and the Climate Change Cluster created under EO 79 tasked to formulate a new revenue sharing scheme between the government and mining companies.
"To its credit, the MICC has been very active in pursuing its directives under EO 79 of reviewing the current fiscal regime for mining; streamlining the mining application process; developing an integrated map of areas open or closed to mining applications; and resolving the issues of the small-scale mining industry," he added.
Earlier, the MICC's economic cluster was set to finalize its new revenue sharing scheme between 8 and 10 percent from the previous target of 7-10 percent so that the government could increase its cut from the gross revenues of mining projects.
The Environment Cluster also finalized the areas that would be considered as no-go zones or areas where extractive activities would be limited or prohibited.
However, the President failed to mention all this and more.
"However, we take the-non mention of mining in the SONA as the President being satisfied with the way MICC is handling the issue of revenue sharing, and that he is leaving it up to Congress to come up with a bill that will rationalize the revenue sharing mechanism, while maintaining our country's competitiveness as a destination for mining investments," said Recidoro.