MAC: Mines and Communities

More mining-related murders in the Philippines

Published by MAC on 2014-04-06
Source: Statements, InterAksyon, Bicol Today, Inquirer (2014-04-05)

As reported in the last Philippine update, there had been an upsurge in the extra-judicial killings of environmental activists (see: Filipinos curse their 'Mining Hell' ). This tragic trend has continued with the murder of an indigenous human rights activist in the Cordillera, William Bugatti, and the lethal shooting of four small-scale miners in Camarines Sur. In the latter case, the accused are members of a local environmental police force, and the incident seems to be steeped in a local power-struggle to control the revenues from such mining.

For those who would like to register their concern about the escalating murder of indigenous activists there is an online petition here: https://www.change.org/petitions/pres-aquino-stop-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-indigenous-peoples-in-the-philippines

On the island of Mindanao, Glencore Xstrata's junior partner in the Tampakan project, Indophil, is still reviewing its options given Glencore's apparent cold feet. The key option seems to be listing in the Philippines, which will give it access to local (no doubt politically influential) investors.

Philex is still suffering from the tailings spill at its Padcal mine, and has only just reached an agreement to pay a vast swathe of back-taxes to two local municipalities. Elsewhere, local governments are accused of endorsing illegal mining.

Meanwhile, at the national level attempts to reform the legislative and fiscal frameworks for mining rumble on as slowly as ever. Aside from the continued arguments over revenue, the idea of "eco-zones" seems to offer the hope of no-go zones for mining, but in practice, inevitably, it seems to be more about the creation of 'national sacrifice' zones for mining. If that happens, it will be land as well as lives that will be sacrificed for large-scale mining.

Cordilleran human rights worker gunned down in Ifugao

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) News Release

26 March 2014

William Bugatti, member of rights group the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) was killed 7 PM last night in Ifugao.

In a text message received by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) from human rights organizations in the Cordillera, Bugatti was probably was on his way home from the CHRA office when we was gunned down at the Ifugao Highway in Bolog, Kiangan in Ifugao. Bugatti sustained three gunshot wounds.

Indigenous peoples alliance Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), supects military forces in Bugatti's killing.

Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP, says that William as well as other members of legal mass organizations and human rights groups in the Cordillera are among a 'target list' of the military. "Recently, we raised concerns on the posters that surfaced in Ifugao that bears the names of some of our leaders and members, saying that they are on the payroll of communist insurgents. Apparently, this is also the military's hitlist," Malayao said. "William's killing sends a gravely disturbing message to members of people's organizations and human rights defenders in the region."

Beverly Longid, president of Katribu Partylist, Emerson Sanchez a staff member of the Cordillera People's Alliance, and Jude Baggo of the CHRA are among the Cordillerans in the posters put up by a group called the Ifugao People's Council. "Rupa ken Nagan dagiti NPA nga Agsusuweldo" (Faces and names of NPA receiving salaries) were written in the posters first sighted in Banaue and Lagawe, Ifugao last March 25, 2014. Others included in the posted bills were former Makabayan partylist representatives Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza.

Similarly, KARAPATAN, an alliance for human rights in the Philippines, produced a document allegedly from the Charlie Company of the 86th Infantry (Highlander) Battalion, which is based in Barangay Impugong, Tinoc that listed 28 people as 'target persons.' Most of the persons on the list are members of farmer, women, and human rights groups, including Bugatti. Two of the listed 'target persons' were from a local government unit and Department of the Environment Natural
Resources personnel. "We now fear for the lives of the others listed on the military's target catalogue," Malayao said.

"This list proves that there are precision strikes being made to unarmed civilians under the Aquino government's internal security plan Oplan Bayanihan. Until the Oplan Bayanihan and like counter-insurgency programs are junked, we could expect more extrajudicial killings," Malayao stated.

According to KAMP, this is the third incidence of extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples in 2014, which killed five indigenous peoples.

Reference: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson 0917-3631576, Lea Fullon, Media Liaison 0998-2972500

--

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, 876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City, Philippines
(02)412-5340
katutubongmamamayan.org


Rights worker in military 'target' list slain in Cordillera - Karapatan

InterAksyon.com

25 March 2014

MANILA, Philippines -- A Cordilleran human rights worker whose name appeared on an Army unit's alleged list of "target persons" was killed Tuesday night in Ifugao province.

Cristina Palabay, secretary of the human rights organization Karapatan said William Bugatti of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-Ifugao was killed around 7 p.m. along the Ifugao Highway in Bolog, Kiangan town.

Palabay could not say how Bugatti was killed, saying a Karapatan quick reaction team was still investigating this.

However, she provided a copy of a purported list of 28 "target persons" in Tinoc town supposedly drawn up by Charlie Company of the 86th Infantry (Highlander) Battalion, which is based in Barangay Impugong, Tinoc.

Palabay said the list had been obtained from "sources."

The entries in the list include names, "location of house," CP (cellphone) number, organization, and remarks/assessment.

While most of the persons are listed as belonging to an unspecified "farmers organization," the remarks/assessment field next to their names indicate they are suspected of membership or ties to the New People's Army through such entries as, "imbakan ng baril" (armory), ""nagbibigay pagkain sa NPA [New People's Army](provides food to the NPA)," "sa bahay nya natutulog ang NPA (the NPA sleep in his house)."

At least one person is described as "kumander ng NPA (NPA commander)."

Bugatti's name is number 21 on the list, where he is described as a "human rights officer" and tagged, along with five other persons, of being "utak ng NPA (brains of the NPA)."

Following a fact-finding visit to the Philippines in 2007, then United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston wrote a scathing report indicting the government and its security forces for pursuing an anti-communist counterinsurgency strategy that deliberately targets legal personalities or organizations suspected of being rebel "fronts."

Among others, Alston noted that this strategy includes the public vilification of "enemies" and the use of so-called "orders of battle," with many who are included in these lists ending up victims of extrajudicial killings.


Human rights group blames ‘politics, state-violence and greed' in massacre of Caramoan 4

By Joey Natividad

Bicol Today

28 March 2014

PILI, Camarines Sur - Human rights group in this province deplored the massacre of four small-scale miners in Caramoan, and pointed at the government-controlled environmental watchdog Bantay Kalikasan Task Force of Camarines Sur as allegedly behind the killings.

Massacred Sunday were small-scale miners Julio Labiano, Rene Labiano, Salem Virtus, and Jessie Brondia.

"The cold-blooded murder is another chilling case of political killing in Bicol. The poor victims eke out a living by engaging in small scale mining in their barangay. The perpetrators are members of the Civilian Security Unit (CSU) of the provincial government of Camarines Sur assigned to Task force Bantay Kalikasan. It is hard to dismiss that the killing is an isolated case and has nothing to do with the powers-that-be in Camarines Sur. Small scale mining is hot in the eyes of politicians in the province and of the military," said Vince Casilihan, spokesperson of rights group, Karapatan- Bicol.

Camarines Sur's Governor is Migz Villafuerte, son of 3-termer ex-governor L-Ray Villafuerte who still wields control over the provincial government, while Migz is only a "dummy" Governor.

According to insiders who refused to be named, Bantay Kalikasan is controlled by the Magtoto brothers, cousins of the Villafuertes.The Villafuerte-Magtoto clique has considerable tourism and mining investments in the Caramoan Peninsula.

"The perpetrators did not only snap out the lives of the poor and defenseless victims but sent their families to farther destitution. The massacre was intended to cause a shivering fear to those who may get the ire of those in power and to those who may knowingly or unknowingly stepped into the sphere of economic interest of the powerful ‘untouchables'," added Casilihan.

Police had arrested seven (7) members of Bantay Kalikasan, including its head Francisco Tria, in connection with the massacre, but reports said they were freed for "lack of evidence." Tria was a defeated mayoral candidate of Sangay, this province under the political wing of the young Villafuertes.

The militant rights group and other civil society groups are demanding for "an impartial, independent, and thorough investigation with due diligence on the case of the massacre of the four small scale miners of Caramoan and on all victims of extrajudicial killings and other form of human rights violations and bring the offenders to justice." [BicolToday.com]


Environment men tagged in miners' slay

By Juan Escandor Jr.

Inquirer Southern Luzon

31 March 2014

CARAMOAN, Camarines Sur-The National Bureau of Investigation charged two members of an environment watchdog unit with murder for the death of four small-scale miners on March 22 in Barangay (village) Gata on Lahuy Island.

Joel "Bay" Beriso and Servillano Espares, alleged members of Camarines Sur's Sagip Kalikasan Task Force (SKTF), were charged with four counts of murder on Friday at the Regional Trial Court of San Jose town, Camarines Sur province. Espares is now in the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Tigaon town while Beriso remained at large, said Tomas Enrile, NBI assistant director for Bicol.

Witnesses identified the two as the ones who shot brothers Julio and Rene Labiano, 31 and 24, respectively; Reden Brondia, 35, and Salem Bertos, 24.

The witnesses made this claim in affidavits executed before a team of NBI agents led by Enrile who went to the island on March 25-26 to investigate the incident.

The NBI investigated the killing after Gata Barangay Chair Mercy Sueno sought its assistance on March 24.

Reached for comment, SKTF head Fermin Mabulo denied the allegation against his subordinates. He said the SKTF personnel arrived at the crime scene only after the shooting.

Mabulo, in a text message to the Inquirer on Saturday, acknowledged that Espares is one of his men but could not "recognize the name" of Beriso or Bay as among the personnel of SKTF.

Rivalry among the small-scale miners could be the cause of the shooting, Mabulo claimed.

He also alleged that Sueno, together with village councilman Maximiano Breis, controlled the mining industry in Gata before SKTF stopped the illegal mining activities there.

Mabulo said the crime was conveniently blamed on SKTF personnel because those involved in illegal mining on Lahuy wanted to drive them away from the island.

Sueno and Breis denied the allegation against them and turned the tables on Mabulo, claiming the SKTF chief was the one trying to control gold trading by buying the gold yield through Gigi Raygon at P900 per gram instead of the prevailing price of P1,200 per gram.

She said the miners who refused to sell to Mabulo through Raygon were ordered to stop their operations.

But Mabulo said Sueno's allegation was "questionable," as Raygon was Sueno's opponent in the last barangay polls.

Testimonies of witnesses gathered by the NBI showed that SKTF personnel led by Beriso barged into the compound occupied by the victims at past 7 p.m. of March 22 and had an altercation with victim Brondia over the mine tunnel the victims owned. At past

9 p.m., Espares also came in yelling, and the shooting started.

Elmer and Panchito Labiano, cousin and brother of two victims, respectively, identified Beriso and Espares as the SKTF personnel who shot and killed the four miners.

Three of the victims were shot in the head while one was shot in the back.

The NBI investigators also inspected a compound near the crime scene, where the alleged bunkhouse of SKTF stood, and found a backhoe, ball mill, sacks of gold ore and a floating contraption on shallow waters fronting the compound.

Enrile noted that the presence of a backhoe in the compound could indicate SKTF's interest in gold mining in Gata.

Enrile said Gata villagers appeared to fear the SKTF personnel whom they claimed brandished high-powered firearms.

"Apparently, the village was peaceful and competing small-scale miners coexist peacefully until the SKTF came to Gata," he said.

He said he had coordinated with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to act on the problems of mining in Gata.

Chief Supt. Victor Deona, provincial police chief, has deployed 35 policemen to Gata to maintain peace and order and diffuse tension in the area.

Gov. Luis Miguel "Migz" Villafuerte has also initiated his own investigation of the incident.

The Inquirer called up Villafuerte on his cellular phone on Monday and Saturday to get his reaction on the alleged involvement of SKTF personnel in the killings but he did not respond.


Camarines Sur village chair faces illegal mine rap

Philippine Daily Inquirer

6 April 2014

NAGA CITY - The head of the environment watchdog unit in Camarines Sur province on April 1 filed countercharges against the village head of Barangay Gata in Lahuy Island in Caramoan town, Camarines Sur, where four small-scale miners were shot dead on March 22.

Fermin Mabulo, head of Sagip Kalikasan Task Force (SKTF), said Mercy Sueno, village head of Gata, and Councilor Maximino Breis Jr. were conducting mining activities in Lahuy but did not get proper permits and clearances from authorities in violation of Republic Act No. 7076, or the People's Small-scale Mining Act, and other pertinent laws.

Two alleged SKTF members are facing murder charges in the Regional Trial Court of San Jose town for the death of the four miners. One of the two, Servillano Espares, is now in the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Tigaon town while a certain Joel Beriso remains at large.

Sueno said in a phone interview on April 3 that she was expecting the countercharges from Mabulo. She said it was a form of retaliation for the four counts of murder filed against the SKTF members.

She said she had not yet received any subpoena from the provincial prosecutor's office on the complaint filed against her but that she was determined to face the charges.

Mabulo, in his complaint, claimed that Sueno's husband, Ronnie, threatened Espares with a bolo on Dec. 26, 2013.

But Sueno said the allegation was a lie meant to cover up the murder.

Discovery

Mabulo said he learned about the illegal mining activities of Sueno in Sitio Tila in Barangay Gata in November 2013 from SKTF district supervisor Francisco R. Tria III.

According to Mabulo, an SKTF inspection team he created found out on Dec. 4 last year that there were at least 30 persons conducting illegal mining activities using machinery and equipment, including a generator set with an attached submersible pump, in Sitio Tila. He said some of the workers were hired by Sueno and Breis.

Mabulo said they "rounded up the people found mining in the site and asked if they had the necessary permits and documents, as required by law on the extraction of minerals. But the persons present in the area failed to produce any relevant document."

He said they asked those rounded up to stop their illegal mining activities while he assigned SKTF enforcers to the area.

Mabulo said Sueno had asked permission from Tria on Dec. 10 last year "to operate and use the ball mill beside her residence to grind the gold ores extracted from illegal mining activities but she was not allowed for failure to show the necessary permit and documents."

Mabulo said that despite SKTF presence in the area and the lack of permit to conduct mining activities, the people under the direction of Sueno and Breis had continued to conduct mining activities in the area.

Threats, harm

"The SKTF enforcers faced and suffered threats, intimidation and even physical harm from Sueno and her family, and Breis and their people," Mabulo claimed.

He cited other incidents, such as when SKTF enforcer John Paul dela Cruz was chased by four unidentified persons on Feb. 10, the setting on fire of SKTF's barracks on Feb. 11 and death threats to SKTF enforcer Bernardo Sedeno Jr. by one Pedro Galvez who was accompanied by Ronnie Sueno on Feb. 13.

Mabulo said that on Feb. 16 this year, Sueno, with eight uniformed village watchmen who were armed with bolos, arrived at the site and claimed ownership of the generator set with a submersible pump.

On March 22, Mabulo added that there was a confrontation between Tria and Sueno when the latter started grinding gold ore but was prevented by Tria because she could not show a permit except a barangay resolution addressed to the town council asking help for the endorsement of Barangay Gata as a "Minahang Bayan."

Rommel Pestaño, regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), told the Inquirer in a recent interview that he was aware of the mining activities in Gata but that "the villagers are only reworking on the old pre-World War tunnels in the area."

Sueno said gold mining in Gata was started by Dutch nationals in the prewar era but who abandoned the mining site during World War II.

Pestaño said he was aware that since December, the small-scale miners in the area had stopped operations and the people, through barangay officials, were applying for permits from the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources so that their village could be declared a Minahang Bayan.

A Minahang Bayan, according to the People's Small-scale Mining Act, allows communities to operate small-scale mines.

Provincial concern

The approval of the permit for such is decided by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board, composed of the MGB regional director as chair, the governor as vice chair and representatives from small-scale and large-scale miners, and nongovernment organization as members.

Pestaño said no mining permit had been issued in Barangay Gata but two large-scale companies-Alti Philippines and Minimax Mineral Exploration Corp.-had applied for mining exploration permits in 2010 and 2011. However, they were rejected.

Pestaño said that prior to the killing, the barangay officials were able to submit a resolution for the Minahang Bayan application from the barangay council other documents, while he sent two technical staffers to Barangay Gata.

Asked whether mining would be appropriate on the island given the carrying capacity of Lahuy Island, Pestaño said small-scale mining could proceed if the application for a Minahang Bayan was approved.

He said the technical staff of the MGB stayed for two days on the island and found that small-scale mining and the prospects for a Minahang Bayan were good.

Pestaño said that in the meantime, he had ordered the mining activities stopped until the approval of the Minahang Bayan application. Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon


Indophil keeping options open on Tampakan

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

25 March 2014

INDOPHIL Resources NL is keeping its options open on the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project in Mindanao, but prefers to have full control in mine operator Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI).

Gavan Collery, vice president for corporate affairs at Indophil, told reporters during a media briefing in Quezon City that a preferred option for the company is to first settle ownership of SMI. The latter is the holder of Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement for Tampakan.

Collery said while there are positive developments in as far as government response to the concerns regarding issues of permits, delays have made development of the project somewhat "frustrating."

He said while the establishment of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, as well as the creation of an interagency committee to address issues hounding the project, are welcome developments, Indophil has yet to see real progress.

He insists that with Indophil holding a strategic preemptive right over Glencore Xstrata's interest, Indophil has a considerable "say" in any Tampakan divestment process, reacting to reported plans of Glencore Xstrata to divest its interest in the mine project. The revised work plan for Tampakan, as approved by the project proponents, is to reduce operational cost from $54 million last year to just less than $10 million this year. Over 1,000 workers in Tampakan were laid off as a result of the revised work plan.

Indophil owns a 37.5-percent interest in SMI, while Glencore Xstrata owns 62.5 per cent.

Collery maintained that Indophil and its in-country alliance partners remain optimistic that the pathways for the development of Tampakan will be cleared and value for the shareholders will be restored.

Glencore Xtrata, he said, has "to make up its mind" whether it wants to divest from Tampakan or pursue the project. Glencore Xstrata is the project manager of Tampakan, which has been delayed by various permit issues.

Indophil, Collery said, is willing to buy out Glencore Xstrata's interest in SMI, but said it is just one of the three options the company is considering.

"What we need to do is have a discussion with Glencore," he said.

Another option, Collery said, is for Indophil itself to divest from the project. "We are keeping our options open. But our preferred option is to pursue the project and have a 100-percent ownership of SMI," he said.

An Australian publicly listed company, Indophil is confident that a lot of investors are more than willing to invest in Tampakan, including local investors.

"It is ideal for Filipino investors to invest in the Philippines," he said, adding that Indophil's idea is to make the project more Filipino-owned.

In its quarterly report, Indophil insisted that while the provincial ban on open-pit mining remains, there are positive signs such as the creation of the inter-agency working group that is expected to submit its recommendation to President Aquino for appropriate action.

Also, he bared plans that the company is looking at listing in the Philippines. This, he said, will strategically allow Indophil to pursue the project with or without Glencore Xstrata.

Indophil has other interests in the Philippines, mainly in Northern Luzon (Balatoc) and Eastern Mindanao (Manat).

The Tampakan project has a global resource of 2.94 billion tons containing an estimated 15 million tons of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold at a 0.2-percent copper cut-off grade. At start-up, targeted for 2019, the annual average rate of production over its first 17 years is estimated at 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold. In the first five years of operation, Tampakan is expected to produce 450,000 tons of copper and 435,000 ounces of gold annually.


More uncertainties imperil SMI operation

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

29 March 2014

Australian exploration company Indophil Resources NL said low metal prices and market uncertainty have taken their toll on the planned commercial operation of the Tampakan Gold and Copper project.

In a report to the Australian Stock Exchange, Indophil Brian Philips said prevailing world market conditions were further aggravated by the decision of its majority partner at Sagittarius Mines Inc. to significantly reduce the operations of the controversial South Cotabato-based mining company.

The Swiss-based Glencore-Xstrata controls 62.5 per cent of SMI which owns the Tampakan project.

Indophil owns the remaining 37.5 stake at SMI.

Glencore International took over control of Xstrata Plc following their merger in 2013 to form the world's fourth largest diversified mining company.

Stalled operations

Following the takeover, Glencore-Xstrata decided "to proceed with a heavily-reduced work plan, significantly reducing expenditure on Tampakan," according to the report of Philips.

Glencore-Xstrata's ownership over SMI likewise "became subject to conditions set by the Chinese government's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) as part of the merger approvals."

Among the conditions set by the Chinese government is the sale of either the already operating Las Bambas copper project in Peru or the Tampakan mine.

The sale of Las Bambas has not been completed as of this writing.

"These conditions have complex ramifications that are affecting all of our interests, and they introduced significant uncertainty for the Project and its owners/managers," Philips disclosed further.

Looking to divest

In October last year, Indophil Chief Executive Officer Richard Lauffman said Glencore-Xstrata advised Indophil of the former's preference to divest from SMI.

Indophil however said Glencore-Xstrata has not formalized the process.

"No agreement on how to move forward has been reached with Glencore-Xstrata," Indophil said.

The exploration company however said it is willing to proceed with the Tampakan project alone or in partnership with interested investors.

An Indophil source who requested that his name be withheld last year said they are preferred Filipino partners in the event Glencore-Xstrata's stakes are up for sale.

As the minority partner, Indophil holds the right of first refusal in case Glencore-Xstrata decides to diversify.

At present, 30 percent of Indophil's stake in SMI is already owned by Filipino corporations led by Alcantara and Sons, PLDT, San Miguel Corporation and SM Prime Holdings.

Controversy

In addition, SMI also faces strong resistance from the local Church in South Cotabato and is stymied by a provincial ordinance banning open pit mine in the province.

Although, it has already secured an environment compliance certificate (ECC), SMI was still required to secure the approval of host local government units and host communities.

Last year, however, a respected tribal leader was slain by suspected government militiamen in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.

Blaan elder Anting Freay, who was slain outside his house, was an uncle of fugitive Daguil Capion.

Anting's son Victor was also killed in the same incident several meters away from his house.

Capion is a tribal leader who is leading a group of Blaan tribesman who took up arms against SMI.

Capion has admitted joining forces with the communist-led New People's Army, who also vowed to resist the mining operation of SMI.

The Tampakan project is touted as having the world's largest untapped copper and gold deposits with a potential annual average production of 375,000 tons of copper in concentrate for at least 17 years.


Barrick Gold Using Coercive Settlement Provisions to Perpetuate Legacy of Environmental Harm

by Michelle Harrison

Earthrights blog

31 March 2014

After nearly a decade of litigation over environmental devastation in the Philippines caused by Placer Dome's mining operations (now Barrick Gold Corp.), Barrick has reportedly given the Province of Marinduque a take-it-or-leave-it settlement offer that would prohibit the Province from spending a penny to clean up the damage the company left behind.

For decades, Placer Dome operated two mines in the Province of Marinduque, during which time it intentionally dumped hundreds of millions of tons of toxic mine waste into traditional fishing areas, and catastrophic dam failures flooded rivers with toxic mine waste. Notably, Placer Dome's long time business partner during much of that period was notorious dictator Ferdinand Marcos, until he was overthrown. The company left the island soon after a massive toxic waste spill in 1996 that rendered the Boac River "biologically dead."

The Province sued Placer Dome in Nevada nearly a decade ago. When Barrick acquired Placer Dome in 2006, it inherited the lawsuit, along with a legacy of harms around the world.

The parties have been engaged in settlement negotiations since 2011 and significant details have surfaced about the terms of Barrick's offer. The amount on the table is reportedly $20 million USD, which, after litigation costs and attorneys' fees, is expected to be closer to $13 million- far less than the projected cost of cleanup.

But here's the worst part: Barrick's take-it-or-leave-it offer would expressly prohibit the Province from using any of the settlement fund to rehabilitate and remediate the environmental damage caused by the mine's operations or to stabilize the dangerous mine structures abandoned by the company more than a decade ago. According to two Marinduque lawmakers who have voiced opposition to the terms, the agreement would stipulate "that the settlement proceeds can never be used for the repair and rehabilitation of the damaged ecosystem of the island-province[.]"

The Province would also have to sign a "Statement of Stipulated Facts" which, among other things, states that "the weight of scientific evidence demonstrates that the mine tailings present in the Province's waterways do not currently pose and have not posed an unacceptable risk to human health" and "do not currently and have not had an unacceptable impact on the environment[.]" Other provisions would state that Placer Dome and Barrick never conducted or transacted business in the Philippines and are not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts.

These "facts" are clearly an attempt to foreclose future lawsuits against the company and a shameless effort to force the Province to adopt a lie so Barrick can re-write history. And the provision prohibiting the Province from using any of the settlement money to clean up the environmental destruction or secure the deteriorating mine structures that continue to pose a risk of repeat disasters would frustrate the entire purpose behind the lawsuit in the first place and perpetuate the harm the company left behind.

Many in Marinduque, including members of the Provincal Board, have expressed outrage over that condition in particular. But Barrick shouldn't want it, either. Companies that address environmental and human rights claims head on - whether before a lawsuit or by fairly settling a lawsuit - can reap reputational benefits from providing some measure of remedy for harm caused by their operations and from taking some form of responsibility (even while still denying legal liability). Companies that continue to deny their role in any harm, and especially those that actively prohibit victims from obtaining any redress for what they've suffered, do not. What community is going to want Barrick to build a mine when they see how Barrick has treated the people of Marinduque?

And, the reality is that Barrick could use some positive PR right now. For a company that boasts a "commit[ment] to making a positive difference in the communities in which we operate[,]" and claims to "conduct itself with the highest ethical standards[,]" Barrick's actions prove otherwise. The company has recently been accused of using similarly coercive settlement provisions and waivers to avoid legal liability for rapes and murders carried out by its security guards in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea. And the company is currently facing a range of other environmental and human rights scandals around the world.

Those scandals, coupled with the company's recent financial woes, have made for a bad year for Barrick. Significant change is needed at all levels of the company. But Barrick can, and should, immediately end the use of coercive settlement conditions and allow individuals and communities who have had their entire way of life destroyed by the company's operations some small chance to heal.


18 years after Marcopper mine spill, Marinduqueños still thirsting for justice

By Marya Salamat

Bulatlat.com

25 March 2014

In 2005, the local government of Marinduque filed a case against Placer Dome in the United States. Last year, its new owner Barrick Gold offered a US$ 20-million settlement with a condition that the petitioners, including Philippine government agencies, waive their accountabilities and responsibilities with regard to the disaster.

MANILA - Eighteen years ago, on March 24, the Marcopper tailings dam collapsed, unleashing tons of toxic minespill that caused the biological death of the Boac River. This, in turn, adversely affected the livelihood of farmers, fisher folks, clothes washers and other members of the community who are dependent on the river.

Part of the 7.5 km causeway of tailings that flowed into Calancan Bay. (2009 Photo of Alex Felipe, published in blogpost of Marinduque local government)

Despite the 18 years that passed, justice and rehabilitation still elude the victims of the Marcopper toxic mine tragedy to this day. So, in their continuing effort to demand for justice, around 1,500 Marinduqueños, with some members of the local government and the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC), marched together toward the Boac River to offer flowers yesterday, March 24. They held a short program condemning the irresponsibility of involved mining companies-Marcopper Mining Corp, Placer Dome and Barrick Gold (Placer Dome is now owned by Barrick Gold).

"No rehabilitation was done so the mine tailings remain in the river and combine with the water and sand," said MaCEC Executive Secretary Elizabeth "Beth" Manggol.

If Yolanda had unleashed its wrath more on Marinduque than on Leyte, the impact would have been even deadlier, said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE in a forum marking the 19th anniversary of Philippine Mining Act last month. "The island province of Marinduque was mercifully avoided by the super typhoon. The abandoned tailings facilities of the Marcopper-Barrick Gold mining corporation would have likely overtopped if it was significantly affected by the disaster," Bautista said.

Many tragedies from mining

In Marinduque, MaCEC cited the many tragedies caused by Marcopper since it began operating. These include:
(1) the use of Calancan Bay as tailings pond since 1975-1991;
(2), the December 1993 collapse of the Maguil-guila siltation dam that killed two children in Mogpog and flooded the areas; and
(3) the March 1996 collapse of Marcopper tailings dam.
Marcopper's mine is currently inactive but is yet to be fully decommissioned and rehabilitated.

Languishing case

In 2005, the local government of Marinduque filed a case against Placer Dome in the United States. Last year, its new owner Barrick Gold offered a US$ 20-million settlement with a condition that the petitioners, including Philippine government agencies, waive their accountabilities and responsibilities with regard to the disaster.

According to Manggol, "The fourth tragedy is the Nevada case proposed settlement." She questioned the practicality for the local government to accept Barrick Gold's offer and for it to bear the burden of rehabilitating the area and arresting all damages that may be caused by the abandoned mines.

"If this happens, the responsibilities of Marcopper, Placer Dome and Barrick Gold will be passed on to the government-this will result in a conflict between affected communities and the government," Manggol said.

The petitioners and the people are united in rejecting the settlement offer by Barrick Gold. They are also united against waiving their cases.

Manggol said the Marinduqueños are convinced the case they filed against Placer Dome Inc. (now Barrick Gold) in the US on October 4, 2005 is probably the last major chance to seek justice. "For 30 years, they have operated in the island with seeming impunity, having damaged the Calancan Bay with mine tailings."


NPA rebels raid mining firm in Southern Philippines

Mindanao Examiner

5 April 2014

DAVAO CITY - New People's Army rebels on Saturday raided a mining firm in the southern Philippine province of Agusan del Norte, reports said.

Reports said the rebels swooped down on Philippine Alstron Mining Company on the village of Tamamarkay in Tubay town and overpowered the security guards without firing a single shot before they torched several trucks and other heavy equipment.

The rebels also seized at least 6 shotguns and short firearms from the company's security arsenal. There were no reports of casualties.

The raid came following threats made by the NPA on mining firms operating in the southern Philippines.

Just last month, rebel forces attacked a police base and government troops in Davao del Sur's Matanao as punishment for their "reign of terror" against indigenous tribes and other communities opposing mining operations in the province.

Dencio Madrigal, a spokesman for the NPA-Valentine Palamine Command, said the deadly attacks were a punishment for police and military units protecting Glencore Xstrata. He accused the mining firm of exploiting nearly 100,000 hectares of ancestral lands of indigenous Lumad Blaans tribes, and peasants in the region.

Jorge Madlos, a regional rebel spokesman, also warned mining firms and fruit plantations in the region, saying military operations in Mindanao have escalated and have become more extensive with the aim to thwart the ever growing and widespread people's protest against destructive mining operations and plantations.

Madlos said among their targets are Russell Mines and Minerals, Apex Mining Corp. and Philco in southern Mindanao; Dolefil, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations in northern Mindanao; TVI Resource Development Philippines in western Mindanao whose operations inside the ancestral domain of indigenous Subanen and Moro tribes are being opposed by villagers.

NPA and Moro rebels had previously attacked TVI Resources in Zamboanga province.

"If one recalls, more than 400 families were forced to evacuate their ancestral lands because of TVI and the ruthless military operations that ensued to protect it in Buug, Zamboanga del Sur. In order to defend the people's human rights and general wellbeing, the NPA launched tactical offensives against TVI as well as against units of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU protecting it, such as the ambush on February 2012 that hit elements of the army intelligence group operating on the behest of TVI and the imposition of the local government to allow TVI mining operations on Subanen ancestral lands is one of the bases the NPA raided on April 9, 2012 the PNP station in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur," Madlos said.

NPA rebels also intercepted a group of army soldiers who were using a borrowed truck from TVI and disarmed them in Diplahan town in Zamboanga Sibugay province two years ago. The rebels also burned the truck before releasing the soldiers.

"In view of these events, the NDFP in Mindanao calls upon the Lumad and Moro peoples, peasants and workers, religious and other sectors to further strengthen their unity and their courage to oppose the interests of imperialist mines and plantations, which are exceedingly damaging to Mindanao, to its people and to the environment. We call upon the units of the NPA in Mindanao to be ever more daring in their defense of people's interests against the greed and rapacity of the local ruling classes and their imperialist master," Madlos said.

TVI Resource Development Philippines has repeatedly denied all accusations against them. It recently ended its gold mining operation in Mount Canatuan in Zamboanga del Norte's Siocon town after several years of operations and now has a gold-silver project in the town of Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur province and a nickel plant in Agusan del Norte province. (Mindanao Examiner)


Philex agrees to pay P200M to 2 Benguet towns

By Artemio A. Dumlao

Philippine Star

1 April 2014

TUBA, Benguet - An agreement has been reached between Philex Mining Corp. and Tuba and Itogon towns in Benguet over supposedly P1.3-billion worth of unpaid taxes that the mine firm owes the two towns.

Both towns have agreed to be paid P100 million each, Itogon town Mayor Victorio Palangdan confirmed, following the town's threats of barricading Philex should there be no final agreement by the end of March.

Palangdan said a formal signing of the Memorandum of Agreement will be made this month after both councils reviewed the new MOA.

The tax payment of Philex is a landmark case with the issue going on for years, making collection a problem for both towns.

Palangdan said both Itogon and Tuba towns have agreed to settle the business tax issue through formal talks with the mining firm's legal counsels.

Tuba and Itogon are locked in a boundary dispute, giving Philex a reason to delay its tax payments to either towns.

To resolve the dispute, Itogon and Tuba agreed to divide between themselves equally whatever they can get from Philex.

The two towns have also agreed to fix the payments of the business taxes from Philex in the coming years.

Palangdan said the money will be used by Itogon to rehabilitate the Loakan Road as well as to jumpstart livelihood projects for the town to increase the income of the town's residents.

Philex has also agreed to acquire a mayor's permit from Itogon town.

Tuba meantime will be using the collectible P100M to fund projects for the town, Mayor Florencio Bentrez said.


2 foreigners say provincial gov't allowed their mining venture

Philippine Daily Inquirer

31 March 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur-Two foreigners financing small-scale mining operations in a Surigao del Sur town are insisting that they are running a legitimate mining venture with a permit issued by the provincial government.

"We are operating legally," said Jennifer Wen, a US citizen of Taiwanese descent. She said her company, Sky Reward Mining, held a temporary small-scale mining permit issued by Gov. Johnny Pimentel on March 5.

She said the governor issued the permit only after an inspection of the mining site in the town of Barobo in January.

The permit for gold extraction issued by Pimentel covers 4 hectares of farmland in the village of Tambis, at least 200 meters from the national highway.

Wen said her firm had been given three months to dig on the land but for no deeper than 15 feet.

Wen and Taiwanese national Nick Hsu were named in an earlier report after concerned residents and a local official voiced opposition to the recurrence of small-scale mining in the neighboring villages of Bahi and Tambis in Barobo.

Wen and Hsu said they held valid visas to stay in the Philippines. Wen holds a tourist visa while Hsu acquired a working visa in 2009.

Sky Reward Mining is a Filipino-American company established by Wen to engage in mining operations in Tambis and has a pending application for a permit in the hinterland village of Das-agan in San Francisco town, Agusan del Sur province.

Wen said she hired Hsu to be her consultant in the Tambis operation because he had also operated in the area taking the risk of having minimal gains last year, until Pimentel stopped the activities and issued a cease and desist order to stop the destructive open-pit small-scale mining illegally operated by a Chinese investor in neighboring Kauswagan sub-village.

She said she would gladly stop the operation if the governor told them to do so after the government had seen that the company violated the provisions of the mining permit.

Hsu admitted there had been bad public perceptions about him and Wen in the past few years but they were just dragged by big-time Chinese financiers who were really behind the illegal mining operations in Kauswagan last year that dug holes that looked like craters the size of a coliseum.

He revealed that a certain Mr. Shien and Jason Lu, both Chinese nationals from Zhangzou, China, were the ones who illegally operated in Kauswagan and Tambis villages last year.

Lu was also involved in illegal mining operation in Mati village in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, which is near the

Mt. Magdiwata watershed where six undocumented Chinese nationals were arrested during a surprise police raid.

Lu, however, managed to evade the dragnet as he was able to leave the country a day before the operation.

Wen admitted they had once scuffled with the law related to mining operation in efforts to recover heavy financial losses in the past years.

For his part, Hsu said he had been engaged in small-scale mining in the hinterlands near Butuan City when he came to the country in 2009 but stopped in 2010 when newly elected Mayor Ferdinand Amante ordered the nonrenewal of mining permits when he assumed office. Chris V. Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao


NBI probes gov for illegal mining

Small-scale operations shut down after they destroyed farms, water sources

By Shiena M. Barrameda

Inquirer Southern Luzon

30 March 2014

LABO, Camarines Norte-A 300-foot-deep gaping pit, now being filled with water, has replaced the nearly 10 hectares of hilly forested land that farmer Zenaida Gallardo, 71, used to tend.

Since October 1970, Gallardo and her family, as tenant-farmers of the De Jesus family, had been planting and harvesting coconut trees for copra in Barangay Napaod, Labo town, Camarines Norte province.

She remembered how, in early 2011, she and her 12 children were expecting a better harvest compared to previous seasons because of the healthy condition of their coconut trees. But all of their dreams were sucked dry by the appearance of a deepening hole that Chinese mining company Bohai Top International Mining Corp. started digging on the property on July 26 of the same year.

The hole was the result of mining activities that extracted gold, copper and black sand from the area under the supervision of the mining company, which, Gallardo alleged, is actually owned by Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo "Egay" Tallado.

‘Front'

Gallardo claimed that Tallado was using the Chinese firm as a front for his illegal mining activities.

The National Bureau of Investigation has since come in, investigating the allegations against Tallado.

"We lost everything, our livelihood and my children's houses. All that is left is this house my husband and I built, and a few square meters of land," said Gallardo.

But even the land and the house are in danger, as the soil around the hole continues to soften and erode every rainy day, threatening to swallow up the last of the Gallardos' property.

Last Feb. 7, agents from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the NBI, along with a team from the Army and the Philippine National Police, swooped down on the mining facility to put a stop to the illegal mining activities there.

"I cried with joy when I saw them dismantling all the mining equipment. Finally, someone took action," Gallardo tearfully recounted in an interview with the Inquirer.

Probe

The NBI issued a subpoena to Tallado on Feb. 24 for him to appear at its headquarters in Taft Avenue, Manila, on March 10.

The subpoena would have given Tallado the chance to answer the allegations of Gallardo's family and the other residents in the area over his involvement in illegal mining in Labo, the governor's hometown.

Sixto Comia, head of the Environmental Crime Division of the NBI, said in a phone interview on March 26 that Tallado had yet to appear. Comia said the NBI made repeated attempts to contact Tallado but there was no word from him.

He said the mining facility near the home of the Gallardos was dismantled due to findings that it did not have an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) as required by the MGB when it grants mining permits.

Comia added that the area was also off-limits to any mining activity because it had been identified as an agricultural area.

MGB Chief Leo Jasareno's order to dismantle the mining facility also led to the arrest of 14 Chinese nationals who were caught in the act of supervising the mining operations on Feb. 7.

A report by the Labo police identified the 14 as Huang Huiyu, Ji Zhishang, Li Zhicheng, Zhang Xianjun, Peng Nan, Xu Xian Iuiing, Wang Jing Wei, Yuan De, Liu Yuxi, Xu Zhi, Jia Dechen, Zhu Yong Rui, Zhu Yubao and Wang Youwei.

Charges

Comia said a case of illegal mining and theft of minerals was filed against the Chinese miners after Filipino employees of the facility admitted that the Chinese were their employers. Tallado was also charged with the same offense.

Since the arrest of the 14 Chinese miners, Tallado has avoided local media. Repeated text messages and phone calls also went unanswered.

The Bureau of Immigration has since taken custody of the 14 Chinese miners.

Gallardo said she came to know of Tallado's involvement from Antonio "Tony" de Jesus, heir of her former landowner, Felixberto de Jesus.

"It was Tony who told me in a text message that he had given Governor Tallado the authority to mine on his land. He said he signed an agreement with him," said Gallardo.

She still keeps De Jesus's text messages as evidence.

Gallardo said De Jesus and even employees of the mining facility, particularly a certain Polding Borja and Leo delos Angeles, who led the digging of the open pit, often referred to Tallado in conversations as the owner of the facility.

"I strongly believe that they (employees) are just using the Chinese to protect Tallado. He is in fact the owner of that mine," Gallardo claimed.

Destruction

She said the mining activity had destroyed 222 coconut trees and the homes of her children, Ezekiel, Melchor, Julie and Junior, which were located in the area.

Aside from the loss of their livelihood, the Gallardo family also lost their main source of fresh drinking water, a natural spring that was buried in dirt and chemicals at the mouth of the pit on March 22.

On the other side of the pit, Renato Osoy, 70, said his family also lost a portion of their

6-hectare land to the miners.

His youngest sister, Ledesma, 32, said a hectare of their land was taken by the mining facility without them being notified.

"The chemicals or whatever it is that they used there are also causing our coconut trees to turn yellow and die," Ledesma said.

Both the Gallardos and Osoys did not receive any compensation from the mining company for their losses.

Rehab plan

It was Gallardo who took up the fight and took their complaints to the local authorities who directed her to go to the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Legazpi City.

She appealed to the office in 2011 not to issue an ECC to the mining company because it was destroying an agricultural land.

Henry Lopez, regional chief of the Environment Impact Assessment and Management Division of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), said the EMB and the MGB did not release an ECC to the mining company because the firm failed to present a rehabilitation plan when it applied for a mining permit.

Tallado, however, had released and signed temporary mining permits to the mining company, which were presented to Gallardo and the residents there.

Comia said the issuance of "temporary mining permits" was among the issues that Tallado had to explain.

He said they were also waiting for the laboratory results from the EMB, which took soil and water samples from the site to find out about any threat to the residents there.

Lopez said the yellowing of coconut trees and other plants were sure signs that mining was taking place.

He said that due to the lack of a rehabilitation plan from the company, the EMB, the MGB and local government units had been tasked to create such a plan for the place.

Comia said the NBI was also investigating landowner De Jesus but the latter could not be reached through the phone number he gave to Gallardo. De Jesus also failed to appear before investigators.

The NBI and the MGB in Daet town, Camarines Norte, have meanwhile taken hold of the heavy equipment and several sacks of black sand recovered from Labo.


Ecozones proposed; Mining continues to oppose 50%

Malaya

28 March 2014

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo sees mining boom once the proposed bill on the sector gets passed, saying the environment is clarified and the revenue sharing is closer to the current arrangement given to large-scale mining.

Domingo yesterday said the mining industry is opposed to the 50-50 sharing scheme now being looked at by the government. Domingo is co-chair of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) and is in charge of crafting the revenue sharing arrangement.

Domingo said based on earlier conversations, leaders of the mining industry group find that 50 percent scheme still too high.

"They are opposed to that. They find that too high," Domingo said in Filipino. "But for me, this thing is very close to an FTAA" or the financial technical assistance agreement, which is given to large-scale miners.

"It just tweaks it on the edges. The middle part is still the same. They are saying the scheme is not competitive. It's up to Congress to debate on that," Domingo said.

Today, the effective tax take of the government in mining amounts to close to 60 percent when all taxes -- 2 percent excise, 5 percent royalty, 30 percent corporate income tax, 1 percent business tax and real property tax -- are added to the basket of taxes a mining company pays.

But Domingo said the stability of policy would be a big come-on for investors even as he dismissed claims that there is a dearth of investments in mining.

"There are still some investments in mining, Existing ones re expanding," he said but declined to elaborate. "Once the bill is passed, there will be a boom in investments."

"When the business environment gets clarified, obviously there would be a significant increase in investments," he added but declined to give a number.

He added: "Our proposal would also make it much easier for mining companies to operate," Domingo said, referring to his plan to encourage the establishment of mining economic zones where the processes are much like the ones imposed in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) where a they can secure permits, licenses and customs procedures for imports and exports in a one-stop arrangement.

"Once the mining ecozones are set up, that would relieve the mining companies of a lot of (dealings) with local government units," he said.

In an earlier interview, Domingo said , mine sites will have to be applied as ecozones with the Philippine Mining Development Council (PMDC) which shall endorse the same to Malacanang for the presidential proclamation. PMDC will oversee the processes otherwise being done by local government units but would have no regulatory control over the zones since regulations is still in the hands of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

But Domingo said prior to the proclamation, the municipalities should agree that they will yield power to the ecozones in exchange for what they will get as a certain part of the revenues.

"The bigger benefit here is that in exchange for a much clearer sharing, or a more equitable sharing, the government will provide you (mining companies) with all the support. If you are here in the new regime, the environment is better because you are protected," he said.

"This will cure the bureaucracy. We're trying for a fairer scheme, we'll give them a better environment. So you can offer a carrot and that will be a very attractive one," Domingo said.


Philippine finance minister says government must get more revenue from mining

Reuters

24 March 2014

MANILA - The Philippine finance minister said he will push mining companies to pay bigger shares of their revenue to the government even though the industry maintains that taxes are already too high and higher ones could kill the business.

Taxation of Philippine miners is a thorny issue that has delayed development of the country's vast mineral resources. President Benigno Aquino, seeking to raise revenue from mining, has met stiff resistance.

Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told the Reuters ASEAN Summit on Monday that the government should be getting one-half of gross revenue from mining.

Last year, according to a government agency, direct state revenue from mining was worth only 2 percent of total output, though miners also pay corporate income tax of 32 percent and other fees to different agencies.

"Where I start is 50-50," Purisima told the summit, held at the Reuters office in Manila. "The return of the government must be two-fold -- as owner of the mineral, and two, as a taxing authority."

Still, Purisima said it is the Philippine Congress that will decide the revenue-sharing formula, taking into account the industry's position.

Within the next year, he said, the government is committed to getting tax legislation passed that features "a fair sharing where both the one who took risk, the mining company, and the one who owns the assets, are fairly rewarded."

Current mining laws, including income tax holidays for start-up projects, have not created a win-win situation for the government and industry, Purisima said.

Government statistics show mining has been declining as a source of revenue. Taxes, fees and royalties from mining in the first nine months of last year came to 1.55 billion pesos ($34.2 million), only about 8 percent of the 18.8 billion pesos collected in all of 2012, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

With nine million hectares of highly mineralized areas, the Philippines is believed to have some of the world's biggest reserves of nickel, gold, and copper.

Vast Untapped Wealth?

Last year, the government valued the Southeast Asian country's untapped mineral deposits at about $850 billion. But investments and mineral production have slowed in the last three years as inconsistent policies and tax uncertainty have deterred investors.

Mining investments between January and September last year totaled $787 million, according to MGB. That compared with $807.7 million for all of 2012 and $1.15 billion in 2011.

Miners say their risks are greater than elsewhere, and investments in infrastructure such as power and roads are costlier in less developed countries such as the Philippines. Given higher costs, they expect a higher rate of return from investing.

Anti-mining groups, including the Roman Catholic Church leadership in the Philippines, say local communities have not benefitted from mining revenue and have been left with denuded mountains and silted rivers.

"We don't want a situation where we'll end up with holes in the midst of communities and once the rich minerals are gone and prices are down, they leave and the people will have nothing there," Purisima said.

"That's why we'd like to do it in the manner they do it in Canada and more advanced countries, where there is really a plan at the beginning on how to restore the environment they have," he said.

(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco and Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Richard Borsuk)


Mine revenue scheme seen out by May

Amy R. Remo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

20 March 2014

MANILA, Philippines-The proposed new revenue sharing scheme for the mining sector may finally be ready for submission to lawmakers when Congress resumes session in May, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said Tuesday.

"We may be able to put in the revisions needed for the scheme. That will not take too long as the hard part is over. This is just fine-tuning the details," Domingo said of the revisions. "We think we may be ready to file, although we have no control over the approval processes (that the proposal will undergo). But I'm hoping it can be submitted when Congress resumes session."

Domingo said the revisions concerned only the "minor things," specifically the implementation of the economic zone provisions for the mining sector.

The proposed mining ecozones are meant to better support and facilitate new and existing investments in the local mining sector and may operate like the sites being managed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

The Department of Trade and Industry has been rushing to submit the Congressional bill that details the government's revenue-sharing scheme with the mining sector to allay the fears of local and foreign investors in the country.

The scheme was already approved in principle by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC). The proposed structure would assure the government of a minimum share, or a percentage of the gross revenues, as well as a percentage of the net profits.

The new revenue sharing scheme will also feature a "windfall profit kicker," which basically allows the Philippine government to secure a percentage share when a mining company benefits from "extraordinary" profits. Such an occasion may arise should metal prices spike in the global market. The government may start collecting from windfall profits once a company exceeds a certain level of returns.

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