MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines - Human Rights Day remembers environmental martyrs

Published by MAC on 2013-12-11
Source: Statement, Manila Standard, Inquirer, Mindanews (2013-12-10)

Human Rights Day (10th December) has been marked in the Philippines by a remembrance of environmental defenders who have been killed, including anti-mining activists, and by the victims of the increased risk of typhoons in the country.

In the case associated with most recent mine-related rights violations, Glencore Xstrata's Tampakan Project, the Government continues to seek to find ways through the different civil society objections, but has at last admitted that without free, prior and informed consent they cannot approve the project advancing to construction.

In Nueva Vizcaya, the Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to hear a writ of kalikasan (environment) brought by local Runruno residents to stop the operation of FCF Minerals (controlled by UK company Metals Exploration).

OceanaGold's nearby Didipio mine has continued its battle with the Provincial Government, with the latter being ordered by the court to stop impounding the mine's product. Also with regard to Didipio, Bantay Kita (the Publish What You Pay-affiliated coalition in the Philippines) have produced a film about community concerns there, but also mentioning FCF Minerals. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS7qHipZJNM&feature=youtu.be

Looking further north still, a Palace-led task force on black sand mining has recommended a stop to all black sand mining operations in Cagayan.

To the south, in Mindanao, the battle over rejuvenating the Kingking mine continues. The US firm St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. continues to talk up its claim, but a battle between local partners continues and the Government has suspended the permit as a result. Meanwhile, the company is in talks for the removal of small-scale miners at Pantukan, in the Compostela Valley.

Nationally, the President has signed an Executive Order (No. 147) to set up the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI). The Government is also working on land zoning, including the issue of No-Go Zones for mining. Yet, the industry continues to have a bleak view of the future. It points out that no new mining permit has been issued from the time President Aquino took office on 30th June 2010.

Exact justice from the impunity towards environmental activists and criminal negligence in disasters by the Aquino government!

Kalikasan PNE Press Statement

10 December 2013

Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda' (international name Haiyan), among the strongest extreme weather events we have ever witnessed in history, has to date caused around 6,000 deaths and displaced almost 4 million residents and affected more than 12 million people across 44 provinces in the Philippines.

Its powerful winds and storm surges caused damages to agriculture and infrastructure of at least worth P35.05 billion. It is a portent of what climate change can look like over the coming decades. These hazards are not new and should have cautioned authorities to anticipate the growing strength and frequency of these disasters.

In the face of the worsening climate crisis, and despite the passage of disaster and climate laws, the present government under Pres. Benigno Simeon ‘BS' Aquino III responded with criminal negligence in the wake of Yolanda as it did in previous disasters it has faced before it. Moreover, the Aquino government resorted to increasing human rights violations (HRVs) in addressing critics of the government's reactive, inept and corruption-ridden disaster management regime.

Yolanda: a case of worsened risks, inept response

BS Aquino's preparations and response to Yolanda was a comprehensive failure that cost lives and livelihoods, exhibited in its locally inappropriate early warning systems and a dearth of disaster and climate-resilient infrastructure and facilities. The promise of sufficient prepositioned relief and aid is belied by recent news that remote communities still haven't been reached by government aid after 3 weeks, with hunger growing apparent in the post-Yolanda aftermath. Aquino's government ignored scientific and historical data and engaged in political finger-pointing to deflect blame away from its own failures.

Amidst the inept crisis management, BS Aquino took the opportunity of justifying the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and his other corruption-prone presidential pork barrel funds as contingency ‘disaster pork' that is indispensable in addressing disasters. Never mind that the same unaccountable, discretionary and lump sum funds have been used time and again by the government to plunder from state coffers instead of having the funds allocated to address actual disaster damages and needs.

In BS Aquino's three years of presidency, destructive projects that threaten our natural defences to disasters such as mangroves and forests, such as reclamation and large-scale mining projects, have persisted and even expanded. Aquino continues to promote dirty coal energy, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases that cause global warming, with 9 coal-fired power plants producing 4,278 megawatts (Mw) currently operating and 18 more approved that will add 5,452 Mw more. Environmental destruction and pollution, along with exclusionary socio-economic policies, has greatly increased the vulnerabilities of grassroots communities to disasters.

Pablo: persisting problems and rights violations

The survivors of 2012's Typhoon ‘Pablo' (Bopha) have lingering housing woes almost a year after Pablo's flash floods destroyed their homes. Pablo survivors have organized themselves into the Barug Katawhan, a climate justice mass movement that led an organized confiscation of material aid suspected to be hoarded in government warehouses early this 2013, after 84 days of receiving no aid from the government.

Since then, two of their members, councilwoman Cristina Morales Jose and farmer Pedro Tinga, have become victims of extrajudicial killings in March 4 and December 6, respectively. Tinga was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command, who claimed he was a member of the armed revolutionary group New People's Army (NPA).

Kim Gargar, a people's scientist and climate justice advocate who was immersed in field research in the forests of Cateel town in Davao Oriental in support of reforestation efforts in the Pablo-affected areas, was caught in a crossfire between AFP and NPA troops and was wrongfully arrested and detained in October this year accused as a member of the NPA. Since then, the AFP has changed one fabricated story about Kim after another, and has filed charges of frustrated murder, gun ban violation and possession of illegal explosives against him.

The repression of Pablo responders appears to be consistently systematic, as earlier in April 2013, Gargar was part of the 70-member fact-finding mission looking into the murder of Cristina Morales Jose and other anomalies revolving around the Pablo aftermath that was harassed by the military. To the AFP, it seems being a dedicated advocate of claiming climate justice and addressing climate impacts for Pablo survivors is a crime

Enough of endangering environmental defenders!

The plight of climate change advocates and refugees is but a facet of the human rights situation that environmental defenders face in the Philippines. Since 2001, a total of 73 politically-motivated killings, at least 23 cases of harassment suits, 3 cases of enforced disappearances, 7 cases of frustrated murder and 29 cases of illegal detention involving environmental advocates have been recorded by the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED).

Is this the plight that Yolanda victims, critics and responders can expect? The appointment as Yolanda rehabilitation czar of Senator Panfilo Lacson, a notorious human rights violator who has immediately pronounced his emphasis on private interests as his rehabilitation framework, is telling enough.

Three years of persisting disaster, climate and human rights crises under BS Aquino are enough, and the Aquino administration is largely responsible and must be held accountable. The people have done its part in directly addressing impacts of disasters, raising awareness on human rights issues, and recommending and promoting alternatives and solutions. Thus we reiterate our demands to the Aquino administration:

• Immediately release and rescind all trumped-up charges against Kim Gargar and all other political prisoners;

• Justice for Cristina Morales Jose, Pedro Tinga and all victims of politically-motivated killings and other HRVs - including holding accountable the perpetrators of HRVs, and the dismantling of paramilitary and investment defence forces often involved in HRVs towards environmentalists, among others;

• Justice for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, Typhoon Pablo and all other ‘climate refugees' under the disastrous regime of Aquino - including sustained relief, livelihood recovery and just compensation for damages, and genuine rehabilitation that will not adversely affect their livelihoods;

• Scrap the Mining Act of 1995, National Reclamation Plan, coal expansion under the Philippine Energy Plan and Electric Power Industry Reform Act, and all other environmentally destructive and pollutive policies and programs, and audit the Climate Change Act and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act;

• Abolish all ‘disaster pork' funds for its role in promoting a reactive and selective relief and disaster recovery, and rechannel it towards social services, disaster risk reduction and climate-proofing;

• Enact and implement a comprehensive and proactive disaster risk management plan that follows goals of community-based disaster risk reduction and management, climate change adaptation and climate justice.

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Reference: Mr. Leon Dulce, Campaign Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, Spokesperson of Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders - 0917 562 6824

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CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Website: www.kalikasan.net


SouthCot to review open-pit mining ban in environment code

Mindanews

3 December 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 Dec) - The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato will review next year the province's environment code in a bid to "enhance and amend" some of its provisions, including the controversial ban on open-pit mining.

South Cotabato Vice Gov. Cecile Diel said Tuesday they have started initial discussions and consultations regarding the code's planned review, which will mainly focus on "answering some legal questions" that hounded it since it was enacted three years ago.

She was referring to Section 22, Paragraph b of Ordinance No. 4 or the Provincial Environment Code that sets the ban on the use of the open-pit mining method in any part of the province's 10 towns and lone city.

The national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had contested such provision, citing it contravenes with Republic Act 7492 or the Philippine Mining Act that allows open-pit mining.

"We need to revisit and refine the code to answer its legal questions. There's the pending question of ultra vires or whether we had gone beyond our authority in passing the code that must be settled once and for all," Diel said in a media forum.

The vice governor said the code's critics had raised jurisprudence and even court decisions that questioned the legality of the open-pit ban.

She said there were also the Supreme Court principle that sets the capacity or the power of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to legislate vis-à-vis a national law or a policy.

"We should have decided on these matters before and answered all issues that were raised squarely," Diel said.

Aside from the open-pit ban provision, the official said the review will cover several other provisions that need to be updated and enhanced.

She specifically noted portions of the code that dwell on the measures addressing concerns on climate change and related issues.

"We should refine our policy on environmental protection and include in the code some measures that will address the foreseen effects of climate change in the province," she said.

As to the code's mandatory review provision after five years of implementation, Diel said such is not absolute based on the principle of lawmaking that legislative bodies cannot pass laws that cannot be repealed.

She pointed out that laws are dynamic in nature and no timetable should be set with regards to its updating or fine-tuning.

"The Constitution has even set provisions on how it can be amended so that principle should apply to local ordinances as well," she said.

The national government, business groups and several government and non-government agencies had opposed the inclusion of the ban in the environment code and called for its immediate review and amendment.

The previous set of Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board members initiated in 2011 an initial review of the code but eventually called it off late 2012.

Foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), which has been working on large-scale copper and gold mining project in the hinterlands of Tampakan town in South Cotabato, had signified to utilize the open-pit method for its US$5.9-billion venture.

In August, SMI's parent firm Glencore Xstrata announced a major downsizing of its spending and overall operations, leading to the reduction of 85 percent of its work force or equivalent to 920 jobs.

In December last year, the company announced that it was moving the target date to start its commercial operations by three years or to 2019 due to problems with regulatory and community approvals, among them the open-pit mining ban.


Tampakan issues far from resolved

By Anna Leah G. Estrada

Manila Standard

25 November 2013

BAGUIO CITY - Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo Jasareno said the inter-agency working group created to address the issues concerning the Tampakan copper-gold project in Mindanao is set to submit an action plan to the Mining Industry Coordinating Council by the end of the month.

Jasareno told reporters at the sidelines of the 60th Annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference here the working group would submit on Nov. 30 its action plans and recommendations to address the issues concerning the $5.9-billion Tampakan project.

Sagittarius Mines Inc., the developer of the Tampakan project, earlier sought the creation of the inter-agency group to address the issues delaying the biggest foreign investment in the country.

The company earlier scaled down operations in the mine due to the delays in the approval of government permits.

"Currently, the project still has no free prior and informed consent which is very important. Without the FPIC, we cannot approve the declaration of mining feasibility, which means SMI cannot proceed on the project construction," Jasareno said.

"The problem is there are a lot of tribes inside the area, so it is hard to get the consensus because some of them are pro and some of them are anti. So what the inter-agency is recommending is for the National Commission on Indigeous People to facilitate meetings with the indigenous people," Jasareno said.

The official said Sagittarius must consult with all the tribes and present the company's programs.


CA ordered to hear Nueva Vizcaya residents' complaint vs mining firm

By Virgil B. Lopez

Sun Star Philippines

2 December 2013

THE Supreme Court (SC) recently ordered the Court of Appeals (CA) to hear the petition of some residents in Nueva Vizcaya to stop the operation of a mining company in the province for alleged abuses to the people and the environment.

In a two-page resolution dated November 12, the SC took note of the petition for writ of kalikasan, which aims to protect a person's constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.

The petitioners led by some members of the Runruno Landowners' Association in Barangay Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya accused FCF Minerals Corp. of ecological destruction and resource plunder, among others.

Mining contributed P72 billion to the economy last year as some groups questioned anew the constitutionality of the law governing the industry for alleged lopsided revenue share for the government.

The SC, which upheld the Mining Act of 1995 in 2004, has yet to issue a decision after holding few rounds of oral argument this year.

While waiting for the Court's guidance, President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order 147 last week creating the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) to make the mining sector more transparent and accountable.

Established in 2003, the EITI is a global coalition of governments, companies and civil society collaborating to improve honest and responsible management of revenues from natural resources, particularly oil, gas, metals and minerals.

The PH-EITI will be composed of 16 members headed by the Finance Secretary.

Among others, the body is tasked to produce regular reports with contextual information about the extractive industries and ensure that the PH-EITI is effectively integrated in the reform process outlined under Executive Order 79, which provides the guidelines on environmental protection and responsible mining in the country. (Sunnex)


C.A. stops impounding of Oceanagold cargo in N. Vizcaya

Written by Joel R. San Juan

Business Mirror

1 December 2013

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya from seizing and impounding freight containers containing mining products of OceanaGold Philippines Inc.

In a six-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Victoria Isabel Paredes, the CA's Fourteenth Division held that OceanaGold's operations may be paralyzed if the provincial government is not prevented from confiscating its products.

The appellate court also directed the provincial government, specifically its Environment and Natural Resources Office (Enro), to release the mining firm's freight containers seized on February 11 and 12, March 1 and June 23, due to lack of quarry permits and non-payment of taxes in violation of Ordinance 18.

The mining firm insisted that under the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) it executed with the government, and pursuant to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, it is exempt from securing quarrying permits for earth-moving works in furtherance of the mining project.

"We have prudently scoured the records and find compelling reasons to grant the application for the issuance of a TRO to prevent injustice, irreparable injury and damage to the petitioner, due to its seizure, confiscation and impounding of petitioner's trucks on and cargo of copper concentrates, and continuing threat of seizure and confiscation of petitioner's trucks and cargo; and to preserve the rights of the parties during the pendency of this petition," the CA said.

OceanaGold is a multinational gold producer with four operating gold mines and a portfolio of development and exploration assets in the South Island of New Zealand and the northern Philippines.

It acquired the Didipio mining project that straddles a mountainous region between the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino in Northern Luzon.

It is expected to produce 100,000 ounces of gold and 14,000 tons of copper per year on average over an estimated 16-year mine life.

The CA said the TRO will remain in effect for 60 days, or until January 21, and upon the filing of a bond in the amount of P2 million to answer for any damage that the provincial government may sustain due to the issuance of the TRO.

The appellate court also directed the provincial government to show cause within 10 days from receipt of the decision why a writ of preliminary injunction should not be issued.

A preliminary injunction is intended to preserve the status quo until the merits of the case can be heard.

The Supreme Court, in its previous rulings, said a preliminary injunction is usually granted when it is made to appear that there is a substantial controversy between the parties and one of them is committing an act or threatening the immediate commission of an act that will cause irreparable injury or destroy the status quo of the controversy before a full hearing can be had on the merits of the case."

In its petition for prohibition with urgent application for the issuance of a TRO and/or a writ of preliminary injunction, OceanaGold asked the appellate court to stop Enro officials from taking and seizing its trucks carrying mining products under an "illegal seizure order," claiming that the trucks contain sand, gravel and other quarry resources extracted without permit and without payment of quarry taxes.

OceanaGold insisted that under its FTAA, it is exempt from securing quarrying permits for earth-moving works in furtherance of the mining project.

It noted that every transport is covered by an ore- transport permit (OTP) issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly describing the truck registry numbers, the kind, weight and value of the commodity being transported and its destination.

The mining firm claimed that since June 25, 2013, it has stopped the transport of copper concentrates in Nueva Vizcaya for fear that its cargo would be seized and impounded.

Due to the continuing threat of future seizures, it added that the company was forced to stop the hauling of copper concentrates, which resulted in the disruption of its operations and threatened to paralyze its mining activities.

"Respondents' illegal acts violate the rights of the petitioner and constitute breach of the government's obligation under the FTAA, which caused grave and irreparable injury...hence, its prayer for the issuance of a TRO and/or WPI. Despite lapse of time, respondents have failed, and continue to fail, to issue any assessments on the impounded trucks and cargoes," the mining firm said in its petition.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Elihu Ybanez and Japar Dimaampao.


Dark clouds hover over mining, says DENR agency

Philippine Daily Inquirer

28 November 2013

BAGUIO CITY - Lawmakers are considering measures that would further restrict mining as environmentalist sentiment continues to influence how the sector is to be regulated, a top government official warned mining executives at last week's 60th National Mine Safety and Environment Conference here.

Elmer Billedo, Mines and Geosciences Bureau assistant national director, said up to 15 provinces have enacted ordinances or policies banning mining, while activists file lawsuits aimed at obstructing mining operations in the provinces.

Congress is also studying measures that would declare some provinces, towns and cities as mine-free zones, he said.

The growing antimining sentiment characterizes the hurdles faced by the revenue generating industry, Billedo said.

The government has rationalized these objections by segregating no-mine zones and mineral reservation areas, as stated by Executive Order No. 79, to free up areas that would be devoted to mining.

EO 79 is the mining policy drawn up last year by President Aquino. It automatically excludes critical environmental and tourism areas from mining, but the process of delineating no-mine zones takes time, Billedo said.

A map outlining the potential no-mine zones has been drawn up by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, but it has not yet been released, he said.

To date, MGB has issued more than 700 mining permits for exploration and mining operations, covering about 900,000 hectares in the country, according to data supplied by the agency.

On Nov. 15, antimining groups used their annual mine "unsafety" week here to lobby for a measure that gives the national coffers bigger revenues from mining.

Groups from Cagayan Valley, the Ilocos and the Cordillera regions mounted a rally in front of the Cordillera offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the MGB to drum up support for the people's mining bill (House Bill No. 4315 when it was filed in 2011 by then Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño).

The measure seeks to "reorient" the mining industry by making all mineral resources part of national patrimony. If passed, it would replace Republic Act No. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995).

Santos Mero, deputy secretary-general of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, said the measure grants the state full control of how the country's mineral resources are used, developed and conserved through a national industrialization program and a mining plan.

The proposed mining plan prioritizes a "domestic needs-based development" which requires the Philippines to develop factories to process industrial metals, so extracted raw minerals need not be exported, according to the bill's fact sheet. It also mandates the creation and subsidy of downstream metals enterprises to increase employment opportunities. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon


Group presses adoption of national land-use proposal

Written by Marvyn N. Benaning

Inquirer

3 December 2013

THE Campaign for Land Use Policy Now (CLUP Now) has stepped up its drive to have a clear-cut policy on land use that would rationalize the use of land, establish residential, agricultural, industrial and commercial zones and minimize risks to communities due to climate change, and geologic or seismic events, as well as volcanic eruptions.

CLUP Now has been egging the two houses of Congress to approve a proposal that has found support from environmental groups, particularly those opposed to large-scale mining, black sand quarrying and the intrusion of extractive industries into traditional agricultural areas.

Among the supporters of the measure who would speak are Commissioner Naderev Sano of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), which failed to win the approval for the imposition of a global measure to limit the greenhouse gases (GHG) of rich nations like the United States (second biggest emitter), Japan (fifth) and the European Union (EU) countries, Australia and Canada.

Sano made waves at the recent climate talks in Warsaw by weeping before the participants, assailing Western powers for refusing to sustain the $100-billion annual Green Climate Fund (GCF) that would last until 2020, insisting that Superyphoon Yolanda punished him and his relatives in Leyte.

Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano will also be on hand to discuss the impact of proper land use on agriculture and how the farm sector has been doing its best to mitigate climate change and adapt to its vagaries.

Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagat Island, a lawyer, will also talk during the briefing, along with fishermen's leader Pablo Rosales.

Elmer Mercado, a one-time journalist and former official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Ernesto Serote, a land use planning expert, are also expected to contribute their views to the discussion.

CLUP Now stressed that it is batting for ideal land use that would operate in the context of climate change and guarantee the avoidance of a huge death toll and enormous physical losses when calamities strike.

It has called for the immediate passage of the National Land Use Act, and its principles should apply to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas affected by Yolanda.

CLUP Now also asked government that the following be implemented: Resilient plans ensuring location of settlement sites outside geo-hazard and disaster-risk areas; ensuring protection of the people and the environment; long-term planning as long-term solution against disasters; securing lands for food security and land-use disaster management.


MGB finalizing mining ‘no-go zones'

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

1 December 2013

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is mapping out areas where mining operation will be banned under the Aquino administration's mining policy.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said they are now closely coordinating with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to identify areas covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), or areas with issued Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), where mining is supposed to be banned under Executive Order (EO) 79.

The MGB, a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is the government's mining regulatory unit that issues exploration permit for prospective mineral areas.

Certain areas have been declared as "off-limits" to mining when President Aquino signed in July last year EO 79, in addition to areas where mining is banned under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Its implementing rules were put in place in September also last year.

These areas include tourism development areas identified by the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP), prime agricultural lands such as plantations and other properties devoted to valuable crops, fisheries development zones and marine sanctuaries as declared by the agriculture secretary and island ecosystems to be determined by DENR through mapping technology.

CARP-covered lands are considered prime agricultural lands and CARP-covered areas with CLOAs issued by the DAR, the lead implementing agency of the program, are proof of ownership of the land awarded by the government.

Certain areas within the 10,000-hectare mining tenement of Sagittarius Mines Inc., the operator of the $5.9-billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in Southern Philippines, have been covered by CARP.

Around 3,000 CARP-beneficiaries have been awarded CLOAs between 2005 and 2008. This is one of the issues being addressed by the Interagency Working Group created by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council.

Jasareno said they are awaiting DAR's list of CARP-covered lands to generate a map that will serve as guide to the MGB, as well as local and foreign mining companies seeking to do business in mining in the Philippines.

"If it is ‘no-go zones', then we will not issue mining permit," Jasareno said.

Before EO 79, mining "no-go zones" are confined to Protected Areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. There are currently 240 Protected Areas and National Parks in the country.


Noy signs EO for more transparent mining sector

By Aurea Calica

The Philippine Star

1 December 2013

MANILA, Philippines - In a bid to intensify government efforts to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the mining sector, President Aquino has signed Executive Order 147 creating the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI).

In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said yesterday the PH-EITI aims to make the Philippines "compliant" in the extractive industries.

Established in 2003, the EITI is a global coalition of governments, companies and civil society collaborating to improve honest and responsible management of revenues from natural resources, particularly oil, gas, metals and minerals.

"Joining the EITI is among the Aquino administration's measures to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the mining sector, including the way the government collects as well as in the way the companies pay takes from mining," Ochoa said.

"Measures and activities geared towards Philippines compliance with the requirements to join EITI should be given full support in order to improve the mining sector and spawn better governance and regulation of the industry," he added.

Under EO 147, the PH-EITI will be implemented and be made operational through a multi-stakeholder group and decision-making body to be known as PH-EITI-MSG. The secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF) will head the body with five government representatives chosen by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, five business group representatives and five civil society organization representatives as members. All members will serve for a term of three years.

The PH-EITI-MSG is tasked, among others, to ensure commitment of all stakeholders to the PH-EITI, set and define strategic direction and scope required to effectively implement the EITI in the country, produce regular reports with contextual information about the extractive industries and ensure that the PH-EITI is effectively integrated in the reform process outlined under EO 79, which provides the guidelines to warrant environmental protection and responsible mining in the country.

EO 147 also creates the PH-EITI secretariat and directs other government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations to assist the multi-stakeholder group and decision-making body in carrying out its mandate and functions.

Funding for the PH-EITI-MSG would be initially drawn against the current budget of the DOF.


Halt to Cagayan black sand mining sought

By Charlie Lagasca and Raymund Catindig

The Philippine Star

8 December 2013

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines - A Palace-led task force on black sand mining in Cagayan has recommended a stop to all black sand mining operations in the country's northernmost province.

Secretary Manuel Mamba of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, and head of the task force, said the stoppage would allow the government to review the permits of the mining firms extracting black sand along Cagayan's coastlines.

"Their stoppage is one of our recommendations because as far as the task force is concerned, the permits of the mining firms are not in proper order," said Mamba.

Mamba was appointed by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) in July to head the task force, whose members include the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Bureau of Investigation 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 was created to investigate the black sand mining activities in Cagayan and to recommend measures in connection with its operation, including enforcement of cease and desist order against illegal operators.

Their recommendation, Mamba said, came amid the perceived dangers these mining operations would bring to the coastal communities and the environment, particularly in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

He said the recommendation is also in response to the 100,000 signatures gathered by the Catholic Church-led environment groups in Cagayan, calling for the stoppage of black sand mining in the province.

The Church has been opposing black sand mining in the province, claiming that its continued operations would endanger the lives of the fisherfolk and the marine resources of the area.

Mamba said the companies behind the black sand mining in the province lack the necessary papers for the operation.

"What they only have is a permit to quarry, which is not enough to operate a large-scale or small-scale mining operation," he said.


Illegal black sand miners ruin sea floor, but spared from taxes by 'dredging permits'

By Ernie Reyes

InterAksyon.com

9 December 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Illegal black sand mining proliferates in the country either because they are covered by "midnight contracts," or by misleading "dredging permits" issued by local government units (LGUs), experts alarmed by the growing racket have claimed. They also noted that the so-called "new gold rush industry" does not fall under the ambit of an executive order on small-scale mining.

Discussions on the spreading business-abetted by corrupt local officials and blamed for serious environmental problems-occupied the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum on Roxas Boulevard in Manila Monday morning. Speaking at the forum were Romualdo D. Aguilos, mineral economics information and publication division of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Ronald R.S. Recidoro, vice president for legal and policy of Chamber of Mines of the Philippines; and Jesus Vicente C. Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.

Aguilos said that under Executive Order No. 79, issued by President Aquino on July 6, 2012, only the DENR-- particularly the MGB---is tasked with creating a "one-stop shop for all mining applications and processes."

"Under EO 79, the local government units were barred from issuing mining permits, which is the sole power of MGB; and before awarding a mining contract, the LGU should create first a Minahan ng Bayan pursuant to Republic Act No. 7076," Aguilos said.

However, some local government units issued "local mining permits" for black sand mining even if they are prohibited by EO 79 and RA 7076 from doing so, Aguilos said.

Illegal miners do govt ‘favor' for ‘dredging', are tax-exempt

This observation was supported by Recidoro. He said dredging permits were issued by LGUs as a disguise for a "mining permit," so that the extraction of black sand from the seashore will not fall under the ambit of EO 79, or RA 7076. Worse, these businesses don't have to pay taxes for conducting ruinous activities.

"Ibig sabihin, it is either they are illegal, or iba ang permit na hawak nila, kadalasan yan dredging permit. So kapag dredging permit, it is presumed they don't earn from it, they are doing a service to the government, so wala silang babayaran na buwis [This means they are either illegal enterprises per se, or holding different permits-usually, a dredging permit. And if it's a dredging permit, it's presumed they are not earning from it and are doing government a favor, so they don't have to pay taxes to government] ," Recidoro explained.

Black sand mining is simply extracting magnetite iron from the sea floor in various provinces. Thus far, those tracking such activities have listed 10 mining operations in Cagayan, no data from the Ilocos Region, and also in Quezon up to Tacloban, Leyte which was devastated by typhoon Yolanda and in Zambales.

Midnight contracts

Meanwhile, ATM's Garganera said the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) issued to some black sand mining companies are midnight contracts, and the rest are illegal, including those extracting sand in Zambales, Quezon, Leyte, and Bicol Region.

"If there are those with permits to dig, that's just a few. The rest of those digging up are illegal; even the processing is illegal. The Chinese illegal black sand mining is the largest chunk in the illegal mining business," Garganera said.

Stop all black sand mining

Aguilos said the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), created by EO 79, has submitted a proposal to President Aquino to stop all black sand mining in the country pending the establishment of a regulatory mechanism, since the industry is not included among the regulated minerals.

Aguilos said all applications for black sand mining permits have been denied, and no application was accepted by MGB because the provision on RA 7076 prohibits the same.

"None so far, some are still applying, but we are still in the process of revising the implementing rules and regulations of RA 7942 to establish a limit zone which is 200 meters away from the shoreline; [but as of now we are not accepting any] application," Aguilos said.

Existing legal black sand mining is closely monitored by the Bureau, including that in Gonzaga, Cagayan, where the local government unit earned P139 million last year from the allowed but locally regulated industry.

"We are monitoring all black sand mining--if they have working permits, are working in the proper area, [whether] they have buffer zone, and [are] extracting at 200 meters away from the shoreline. In fact, in Cagayan they have a model in the municipality of Gonzaga, on how do they benefit from the mining per se. The municipality earned P139 million; they showed the benefits of mining in the municipality of Gonzaga; as along as mining is regulated, they're fine with that," he said.

Meanwhile, Recidoro urged the government to enforce the law more aggressively on black sand mining since EO 79 limited mining to gold, silver and chromites. "Wala ang [They excluded] black sand mining (from EO 79)."

He wondered aloud: "Can you imagine how much value of black sand they shipped out? But we cannot estimate precisely because there was no data on small-scale mining. Nobody is at home. There is no national agency that is in charge of the data on small-scale mining, but you cannot blame MGB on this because [they're not the ones issuing the permits]," Recidoro said.


Philex told to use Padcal's existing tailings pond

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

25 November 2013

INSTEAD of constructing a new tailings pond, publicly listed Philex Mining Corp. (Philex) was told to continue using the existing tailings pond at the Padcal mine in Itogon, Benguet, and the remediation measure being undertaken by the company.

Leo Jasareno, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources's Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), said this will allow Philex to maximize the use of Tailings Storage Facility 3 (TSF 3), and at the same time, contain the current impact area of its operation.

Jasareno said the suggestion to Philex was made by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje during a site inspection at the Padcal mine last week.

Paje reportedly suggested to Philex to raise the offset dike of TSF 3, which serves as barrier to the tailings and the main dike, possibly up to the level of 640 meters above sea level, to increase its capacity and extend the life of TSF 3.

In an interview, Philex Vice President Libby Ricafort, also Padcal mine's resident manager, welcomed the DENR chief's suggestion to use TSF 3. He said the company will immediately conduct research and evaluate options to maximize the use of its existing facility.

"It will be a very attractive position for Philex if we will be allowed to continue using TSF 3. That will be advantageous to us," he said.

According to Ricafort, there was a positive assessment when the DENR inspection team came to check the progress of Philex's work.

"Secretary [Ramon] Paje was impressed by what we have done so far. Based on what we have done so far in the remediation of TP 3 [TSF 3], talagang may positive inclination. He even said what he has read in the reports was different to the actual situation now," he said.

Philex is currently seeking the DENR's approval for the construction of TSF 4, while TSF 3, which was damaged after days of torrential rains in August last year-dumped massive mine waste and contaminated nearby water bodies-is being rehabilitated. The spilt mine waste were later found to be biodegradable and nontoxic.

Jasareno, who accompanied Paje during the site inspection, said given that the P327-million open spillway project of Philex is now in place, TSF 3 is now "safe to use."

The open spillway project is a water decanting system that replaced the pond's underground drainage system. It involved the construction of two chutes, each measuring 12 meters wide and 300 meters long.

The open spillway has the capacity to divert huge volume of water in case of heavy downpour, having been designed for 1,500 millimeters of rain over a 24-hour period. Typhoon Ondoy, which flooded Metro Manila and Luzon in September 2009, poured 455 millimeters of rain over a 24-hour period, Jasareno said.

As part of the remediation process, Philex was allowed to use TSF 3. To stabilize the dike, TSF 3 needs to be filled with silt, also called beaching process, to replace water that weakens the offset dike.

"Given this [spillway's] capacity, it is safe to say TSF 3 is safe for now," Jasareno said.

Besides, Jasareno said constructing TSF 4 will be disadvantageous to Philex, considering the cost -and the tedious process of securing the necessary permits.

The proposed TSF 4 is being eyed for construction within the Lower Agno Forest Reserve, a protected area, which is also within an area managed by the National Power Corp. (Napocor).

The proposed site is also within the ancestral domain claim of a local Indigenous People's tribe. Moreover, Jasareno said constructing TSF 4 will require the cutting down of trees, which he said, will require a special tree-cutting permit.

All these, Jasareno said, will be very difficult for Philex, given the DENR's "bias for the environment."

With the DENR chief's recommendation to use TSF 3, Philex would just have to come up with a plan, possibly a re-engineering design, to increase its current capacity, Jasareno said.

Philex is currently seeking the approval of the DENR to increase the tailings beach of up to 608 meters above sea level. The current level of the silt at the approximately 100 hectares TSF 3 is 597 meters above sea level. With the embankment and the tailings beach being raised further, so is its capacity to hold mine waste.

Some 26,000 cubic meters are being deposited to TSF 3 on a daily basis. At such rate, it is estimated that the facility could last up to another two-and-a-half years. The life of the mine is estimated to end in 2020.

It will be recalled that the accidental leak at Padcal mine's TSF 3 contaminated Balog Creek in Benguet and Agno River in Pangasinan.

The Napocor claimed that some 13.5 million cubic meters of mine waste have been dumped into the San Roque Dam which Philex needs to remove or pay for some P6.42 billion estimated cleanup costs, including damages to the agency.

Because of the accidental leak, Philex was slapped with, and settled a fine of over P1.034 billion for violations under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

It is currently exhausting legal remedies to dispute the P92.8-million fine slapped by the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) for violations under the Clean Water Act for the same incident as of November last year.

The maximum fine under the law is P200,000 per day, which will continue to accumulate, until the company completes the cleanup of the polluted water bodies.

As of Saturday, Philex's fine for polluting water bodies has gone up to P300 million and it will continue to accumulate pending the successful cleanup of the polluted water bodies. Jasareno said the PAB is currently validating Napocor's claim.

Philex is currently operating at full capacity after the DENR-MGB extended in July the temporary lifting of the suspension order issued in February, to allow the company to initiate the remediation measures for its damaged facility.

Philex's operation was suspended for seven months since August 1 last year upon the discovery of the leak before the DENR flashed the green light for it to temporarily resume operation.

The company's appeal to fully lift the suspension order was tossed by the agency to the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), a Cabinet-level cluster that oversee big mining projects and tackles issues of national concern in mining. The MICC is currently waiting the report of a technical working group, led by Secretary Nerius Acosta, the President's adviser for environmental protection, that was created to probe the safety of Padcal mine. It was learned that Acosta had already conducted a site inspection at Padcal mine and is set to submit his findings and recommendations to the MICC, which Jasareno said will be the basis in deciding on Philex's appeal.


Govt freezes Kingking's permit

Anna Leah G. Estrada

Manila Standard

28 November 2013

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Wednesday it suspended the processing of the permit sought by US miner St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. to operate the Kingking mine in Mindanao amid a corporate dispute.

St. Augustine earlier asked MGB to approve the declaration of mining project feasibility for Kingking mine in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, which reportedly contains 3.16 billion pounds of copper and 5.43 million ounces of gold.

St. Augustine is the developer of the project while local partner Nationwide Development Corp. holds the mineral production sharing agreement for the Kingking mine.

"We suspended the evaluation of their DMPF until the intra-corporate dispute is resolved. They need to resolve their dispute first. Who will we give the mining permit?" said MGB director Leo Jasareno.

Two groups are contesting the management of Nadecor, including the Calalang group and the Ricafort faction.

The issue began when Corazon Ricafort and her children claimed they were deprived of their right to vote and be voted upon during the annual stockholders' meeting on Aug. 15, 2011.

Conrado Calalang, however, said Corazon Ricafort's husband was present during the meeting and even signed the attendance sheet on their behalf.

The Court of Appeals in its decision in February ruled that the Aug. 15, 2011 election of the Calalang Group to the board of directors of Nadecor was valid.

The court's ruling empowered the current board of directors led by Calalang, Alfredo Ayala, Leocadio Nitorreda and Roberto Romulo to act on behalf of the Nadecor.


Saint Augustine eyes formal talks with small-scale miners of Pantukan

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

22 November 2013

BAGUIO CITY-Formal talks between proponents of the $2-billion King King Copper-Gold Project and small-scale miners will commence next year to come up with an amicable settlement over the right to mine in a highly mineralized area in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

Clyde Gillespie, Saint Augustine's country manager and director for environmental permitting, told reporters at the sidelines of the 60th Annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference here that a "win-win" situation is being eyed, wherein an agreement between Saint Agustine and small-scale miners will be reached.

The meeting, Gillespie said, is currently being worked out with the help of concerned officials of Pantukan and leaders of small-scale miners operating within the company's 1,656-hectare mining tenement.

Pantukan, about 90 kilometers away from Davao City, is being eyed to host the potentially biggest copper-gold project in the Philippines next to the $5.9-billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project of Sagittarius Mines Inc., that is also being hampered by various challenges.

Gillespie said that ideally, an arrangement will be made wherein small-scale miners will be relocated in other areas to allow the company to operate an open-pit mine without delay.

Other small-scale miners will also be given employment opportunity. Those willing may enter into a deal wherein they will be the ones extracting ore to be processed by King King.

"By starting it next year, we have almost two years to discuss this. what drives the schedule more than anything is the relocation plan required by the MGB [Mines and Geosciences Bureau]. Before we finalize that plan, we want to have consultations with stakeholders so that we have a high level of confidence that the plan is acceptable to all the stakeholders. We want a win-win situation. The international standard is to give them something better than what they already have," he said.

Pantukan Mayor Roberto M. Yugo earlier said the operation of King King Copper-Gold Project is being eyed to boost the local economic development of the town.

The project, a joint venture of Nationwide Development Corp. (Nadecor) and Saint Augustine, is currently in the process of securing permits to advance from exploration to commercial operation.

Pantukan remains highly dependent on the internal revenue allotment it gets annually from the national government. It is able to generate only a small fraction, roughly P18 million, of its total P183 million available or required budget every year. The small-scale mining area is where Saint Augustine also plans to operate its open-pit mine.

Gillespie said that 1,700 of the roughly 6,000 work force needed by the company for King King's operation will come from local communities, particularly Pantukan.

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