MAC: Mines and Communities

A taxing time for Philippines mining

Published by MAC on 2014-06-17
Source: Statement, Mining.com, Inquirer, Business Mirror (2014-06-16)

The government of President Benigno Aquino has finally presented its much-heralded new policy on mine taxation for the Philippines.

It claims it could make up to US$1 billion from the proposed revenue-sharing scheme, but - unsurprisingly - the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has said the increase in taxes could kill the industry.

The final policy still needs Congressional approval, and with the miners well-represented inside Congress it could make for an interesting debate.

Protesters used World Environment Day on 5th June to once again call for the scrapping of the 1995 Mining Act. The protest was organised by the Scrap the Mining Act Network, an initiative of the national indigenous peoples' organisation KAMP.

The human rights record of the Philippines mining industry has also been raised at the current United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

Citnickel Mines operation in Palawan has been suspended, because of a spill from the site following heavy rains (For previous Citnickel problems see: Philippines: one mine disaster after another).

A university tree-planting team has been harassed by security at the Runruno mine in Nueva Vizcaya, which is operated by the UK company Metals Exploration.

Christian organisations have filed a court order against the construction of the coal-fired power plant near Sarangani Bay, which is to power Glencore-Indophil's Tampakan mine.

And KAMP has criticised the low level of fines paid by Philex for the massive tailings spill at its Padcal mine in 2012 (see Philippines: A flood of mining problems).

Philippines eyes $1bn revenues from proposed new mining law

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

2 June 2014

The Philippine government expects to double its annual returns from mining to as much as US$1 billion under a revenue-sharing scheme approved Monday that will see the government taking 55% of the industry's net revenues or 10% of gross revenue, whichever is higher.

According to Manila Standard Today, the government panel -the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC)- will present the proposal to President Benigno Aquino this week for approval before submitting it to Congress.

Mining taxes in the archipelago is a problematic issue that has delayed development of the country's vast mineral resources, worth around US$850 billion according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) estimates.

The proposed ruling has the country's biggest industry group up in arms, as miners believe that increasing the tax would kill the industry.

But MGB chief Leo Jasareno disagrees. He told ABS-CBN News that the proposed bill will make the Philippine mining industry "more competitive and more relevant to the country's economy."

The tax hike will raise mining companies payments to the government by at least 50%. Currently, miners operating under the mineral production sharing agreement specified in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 only pay 2% of their gross revenues to government.

Slippery slope

In July 2012 Philippine president Benigno Aquino signed an executive order halting the issuing of mining licenses while the country updates the sector's outdated legal framework.

The order established a Mining Industry Coordinating Council to oversee the sector and banned mining from some 78 areas considered sensitive ecosystems, crucial to farming or tourism or unsuitable for other reasons.

After the decree and in anticipation of the new law, foreign investment in the country's resources sector plummeted.

Never that high to begin with, investment in the island nation now attracts less than $500 million worth of mining investment, down from nearly $1 billion in 2010 according to government data.

The archipelago is rich in copper, gold, silver and chromium and at the moment produces more than 10% of the world's nickel, but minerals make up only 8% of its exports.

The situation is not likely to improve any time soon - The Fraser Institute's latest annual global survey of mining executives ranked the Philippines as one of the worse places for investors, behind only Kyrgyzstan and Venezuela.


Mines chamber tells govt not to hike mine-industry tax

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

30 May 2014

THE Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said the government could increase its take in mining without necessarily increasing taxes that would eventually "kill" the mining industry.

"If the government wants a bigger take from mining, there are many other options it can explore before increasing the tax on mining, which is a step that will likely kill the industry," said Ronald Recidoro, COMP vice president for Policy in a statement.

Recidoro said the government could encourage local investment and development linkages to supply and interconnect with mining projects.

He said the government can also revive idle or abandoned mines to generate new employment and revenues.

Last Recidoro said the government can enforce taxation of small-scale mining projects and nonmetallic or quarry operations for stones, sand and gravel.

"Any of these options will result in increased revenues for government without imposing an additional burden on an already heavily taxed industry," he said. Imposing higher tax on mining projects will have an enormously negative effect, he said.

"With very few projects far down the pipeline, an increased tax on new projects will not immediately result in a bigger take for government. But what it will definitely do is make the Philippines uncompetitive-killing investor interest and inhibiting the growth of the sector. In effect, increasing the tax will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs," he said.

Since the issuance of Executive Order No. 79 in July 2012, a moratorium on new mining projects has been put in place by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, while the Mining industry Coordinating Council (MICC) looks into how it can increase government's share in mining projects.

Nearly two years later, the mining industry is still in limbo, Recidoro said.

In a letter to President Aquino on March 2014, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) expressed concern over the proposed revenue scheme and said that "such a fiscal regime will have an extremely negative impact on future investment in the minerals sector."

The JFC said that "mining investments generate jobs, and multiply those jobs into other jobs. They build infrastructure. They inject money into communities. In short, they create inclusive growth-which is so much needed in these economic times of the country's development."

"Given the chilling effect increased taxes will have on investments, COMP suggests that the key to increasing the mining industry's contribution to the economy lies in increased mining investments and in enhancing the local backward and forward linkages in the sector-essentially maximizing mining's multiplier effect, especially in the areas where mines operate.

At the 2013 Mining Philippines Conference in Manila, Dr. Michael Stanley, lead expert, Sustainable Energy, Oil, Gas and Mining Department of the World Bank commented that, to get more from mining, government should focus more on economic linkages.

"The more that you embed that mine in the local community and have more regional economic development around the mine, the more goods and services come from small-to-medium enterprises around the mine, you get a more robust tax take overall. It's actually a better curve to be on than the mine curve itself," Stanley said.

"With proper linkages programs created by the government coupled with transparency in tax collections and disbursements, the Philippines mining industry can go a long ways in helping deal with poverty and be an example of inclusive growth," said Jesse Ang of the International Finance Corp. (IFC), adding that mining "can be a strong catalyst" for the country if managed properly.

"With a proper linkages program, with proper transparency-you know where the [tax] payments are going to make sure that money goes to the communities," Ang said.

The IFC official said mining as an industry can help government drive infrastructure projects to greater levels so the Philippines could move up to the next stage of economic growth beyond that driven by consumption.

By encouraging local source and supply linkages, the mining industry's most valuable contribution to the country's growth could come from its ability to generate further benefits to the domestic economy through productive linkages with other sectors. If interconnected with the mining project, local suppliers of goods and services needed by the mine and its employees will grow as the mine operation progresses-encouraging inclusive growth and yielding even more tax revenue for government.

"For backward and forward linkages to have the desired impact, it is not enough that [the] government impose local content and value-addition conditions on mining contractors, and provide incentives for investors to structure projects.

"Government needs to come up with complementary strategies to create the business environment and public sector institutions that encourage growth and deepen the integration of mineral projects into national and regional economies," Recidoro said.

Government must make mineral processing a viable investment, developing upstream capital goods and service industries. It must create and improve needed infrastructure, particularly power and transport, he said.

As such, the COMP official said policymakers need to maximize the beneficial spillover effects of infrastructure triggered by mining by planning around resource corridors.

"Policies should encourage the collateral or integral use of the minerals produced by other economic sectors. Expanded infrastructure will also promote rural development," he said.


MICC OKs 10% tax on mining revenues under draft bill, says MGB

GMA Network

2 June 2014

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has approved the imposition of additional tax on mining revenues under the draft bill of a new revenue-sharing agreement between the government and mining companies, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said over the weekend.

Under the bill, either a 10 percent tax on gross revenues or a tax of 45-55 percent on adjusted mining revenues, plus a percentage of windfall profit will be imposed, whichever would give higher revenues to the government, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said.

Adjusted mining revenues refer to the difference between gross sales and direct cost - direct mining cost and administrative expenses.

Jasareno said the proposed taxes would be imposed in lieu of all national and local taxes, except real property tax, value-added tax, capital gains tax, stock transaction tax, documentary stamp tax, Securities and Exchange Commission fee, donor's tax, environmental fee, water usage fee, and administration and judicial costs.

The bill is to be submitted to the Office of the President for approval. If it gets approved by the President, it will then be submitted to the current congress, Jasareno said.

The MICC is a joint committee of the Economic Development Cluster and the Climate Change Cluster, created under Executive Order 79 and tasked to formulate a new revenue-sharing scheme between the government and mining companies.

Since the issuance of the new mining policy in the form of EO 79 in July 2012, the government has stopped granting new mining contracts while a new taxation regime is being finalized. - Janelle Cosino/VS, GMA News


Scrapping of Mining Act of 1995 called anew on World Environment Day

KAMP Press release

5 June 2014

BACLARAN, Paranaque City-A dedicated mass for the celebration of the World Environment Day on June 5 was held at the Baclaran Church on Wednesday, the day where devotees to the Mother of Perpetual Help flock to the Church.

Indigenous peoples, Church people, and advocates attended the dedicated service, pressing for the Aquino government to repeal the Mining Act of 1995. "It is high time that the Aquino government makes good on its promise to amend the Philippine mining industry that has caused turmoil, environmental destruction, and human rights violations against the people, especially indigenous peoples," Piya Macliing Malayao, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) spokesperson said. "To scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and to replace it by a mining law that is pro-people, pro-environment, and pro-indigenous peoples is the only way that our mining industry will contribute to the country's development and industrialization," Malayao added.

Philippine Task Force for Indigenous People's Rights, Kabataan para sa Tribung Pilipino, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Redemptorist Church, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Redemptorist, Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae Social Ministry, Sisters of Sion, St. Scholastica's College Outreach Center Gabriela Women's Party representative Luz Ilagan and Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna were among the attendees of the Mass and petition signing to repeal the Mining Act of 1995, started by The Scrap the Mining Act Network.

According to Malayao, the Scrap the Mining Act Network is an initiative of KAMP, responding to the effects of large-scale mining activities in ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples. "There are more than one million hectares of Philippine mineral lands that are portioned off by mining corporations for exploration and development. Roughly 60 percent of these lands encroach on ancestral lands. Mining under the Mining Act of 1995 spells dispossession, dislocation, and despair for millions of indigenous peoples in our country," Malayao said. "The call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 is a rallying cry for support as indigenous peoples defend their land and rights against mining plunder," Malayao further stated.

"One of the significant steps that the Aquino government has done towards the mining industry is to enact Executive Order 79. While it Aquino packaged the Act as a ‘reform' of the mining industry, the EO 79 has only strengthened the legality of the Mining Act of 1995 and strengthened its foundations. In fact, more mines are now in operations under his administration," Malayao claimed.

Malayao also said that human rights violations against indigenous peoples abound especially in mining-affected communities. "Juvy Capion and her sons, who, due to the relentless fight against the mining operation of Xstrata-SMI in their ancestral lands in Tampakan, South Cotabato, were massacred mercilessly by the 26th Infantry Battalion of the AFP on October 2012. Several Lumad leaders in Mindanao who had led their people to resist mining in their ancestral lands, were also killed by State forces and mercenary groups, such as Datu Jimmy Liguyon who was killed in front of his children by members of a paramilitary group held in sway by a mining company."

According to KAMP data, there are 118 trumped up charges and 16 extrajudicial killings related to mining done against indigenous peoples since Aquino came into power in June 2010.

Malayao said that the Aquino government's thrust to invigorate the mining industry has "spelt calamity to the environment, and indigenous people's rights." #

For a video on the issue go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7OkVEDlOsM&feature=youtu.be

References: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson, 0917-3631576
Lea Fullon, Public Information Officer, 0998-2972500


Philippines accused of human rights violations

Karapatan press release

14 June 2014

MANILA - International human rights group Civicus and the Philippine-based rights group Karapatan issued an appeal the other day to the 47 member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to urge the Philippine government to stop the attacks against indigenous peoples and environmental activists in the country.

In an oral intervention delivered by Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay before the UNHRC and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during the 26th Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, she cited the forcible evacuation of indigenous Manobos in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte province on Mindanao Island due to military bombings and operations against the New People's Army rebels.

Palabay also indicated that the Manobos' refusal to allow mining companies to encroach on their lands exposed them to threats and harassment. "They have become victims of the Aquino government's counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, and they are tagged as members or supporters of the New People's Army," she said.

"Mining companies, including Indophil Resources, have applications covering the land where the indigenous Manobos live, for gold, silver, copper, and other minerals. Their plight is akin to the situation of the indigenous communities where SMI Glencore/Xstrata has mining projects. Anti-mining activists, indigenous leaders and children were killed by military and paramilitary groups, and justice remains elusive for them," she added.

Both human rights groups appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to urge Manila to recognize and respect the rights of communities and human rights defenders, who bear the full adverse impact of business, especially big mining, activities. They asked the Council to call on the Philippine government to adhere to international human rights standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Palabay also spoke on the issue in a side event on civil society space and protection of human rights defenders jointly organized by international organisations Article19, CIVICUS, ICNL, ECNL, the World Movement for Democracy and the Permanent Mission of Ireland. Mr. Maina Kiai, UN special rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association, and Mr. Frank la Rue, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, were also in the said panel.

Citing Karapatan's documentation and reports of London-based non-governmental organization Global Witness, Palabay said that aside from extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples and activists, arrests based on false charges of environmental and anti-mining activists are on the rise, including the arrests of physicist Kim Gargar and Tampakan anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera.

Palabay is among the members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights delegation of human rights defenders and church workers at the 26th sessions of the UN HRC. Others who joined her were Atty. Edre Olalia, Secretary-General of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, Rev. Irma Balaba, Assistant Program Secretary of the Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations Program of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines; and Dr. Angie Gonzales, Atty. Mary Kristerie Baleva and Julie Palaganas of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.


Philippines Mining Report 2014 released

Press Release

3 June 2014

Boston, MA - The looming exit of Glencore Xstrata's stake in the US$5.9bn Tampakan copper-gold project reinforces our conviction that mining investment in the Philippines will become less attractive amidst the downturn in commodity prices over the coming years. Despite rice mineral deposits in the country, resource nationalism will remain an issue as the Philippine government looks to implement more onerous regulatory reforms in the mining space.

We believe the retreat of commodity prices and fading attraction of frontier mining will continue to dampen capital flows into the Philippines' mining space over the coming years. As spotlighted by the pending exit of Glencore Xstrata from the USD5.9bn Tampakan project in South Cotabato, the country is unlikely to experience a mining boom anytime soon. In January 2014, Glencore Xstrata announced its decision to sell its stake in the mine in a bid to prune its portfolio and focus on the development of brownfield projects. The Tampakan project, with an estimated 15mn tonnes (mnt) of copper and 18mn ounces (moz) of gold, would be the single largest foreign direct investment in the country. To be sure, investment in exploration and mining projects in the Philippines between 2004 and 2012 reached US$5.8bn, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Brownfield Prevails

In our view, rich mineral deposits in the Philippines will fail to attract significant mining investment over our forecast period to 2018. In a continuation of the trend seen in 2013, mining companies will struggle to maintain a deep portfolio of expansion projects in the face of falling mineral prices and growing demand for shareholders' returns. The pullback in mining expenditure over the past year has encouraged us to adopt a much more sombre outlook on the prospects of frontier mining. As seen in the accompanying chart, capital expenditure (capex) by the top 10 miners (which account for 80% of industry spending) plunged by 16.9% year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2013. This is expected to be followed by y-o-y falls of 9.2% in 2014 and 12.1% in 2015. We believe frontier regions will suffer the brunt of cutbacks in investment given the inherent risks and huge capital commitment associated with immature regulatory frameworks and a paucity of sound infrastructure.

Political Outlook Still Murky

Admittedly, significant progress has been made in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao, where more than a third of the Philippines's gold resources are located. However, we remain only cautiously optimistic on the country's political landscape going forward as the normalisation in relations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatist group is still very much at a nascent stage. As such, our Country Risk team maintains Philippines' short-term political risk rating at 71.3, placing it marginally above the regional average of 69.8.

Resource Nationalism Creeping Up

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MGB suspends nickel-mining company over silt spill in Palawan town

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

12 June 2014

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has suspended the operation of Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. (CMDC) following a silt spill at its nickel mine in Sofronio Española, Palawan.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said the company's operation is suspended indefinitely until such time that the company successfully conducted mitigation and remediation measures to prevent another silt spill.

The suspension order was issued on June 10, after a team from the MGB inspected the nickel mine in Barangay Pulot earlier this week.

For the incident, CMDC, a subsidiary of Oriental Peninsula Resources Group Inc., is facing yet another penalty for violation of Republic Act 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995; and Republic Act 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

"We have sent a team there and on Wednesday, we issued the suspension order against Citinickel," Jasareno said.

In his letter addressed to CMDC President Ferdinand M. Pallera, Edwin Mojares, officer-in-charge of the MGB in Region 4B, said the spill was caused by the breaching of the siltation-control facilities in Barangay Pulot, Sofronio Española, which caused massive discoloration of runoffs and deposition of lateritic sediments along the stretch of Pasi River leading down to the Pulot River.

Jasareno said the silt spill was caused by the unusually excessive rainfall over the past few days that caused the soil to loosen. The siltation control facility was unable to prevent the huge volume of rainwater that spilt over to nearby Pasi River.

He said the MGB advises CMDC to improve its siltation-control facility to prevent silt spill that could further contaminate nearby water bodies and affect people living in the area.

"They need to improve their siltation control so that even during heavy downpour, the rainwater will go to the siltation-control pan," he said.

This is not the first time that a silt spill involving CMDC's nickel-mining operation happened in Palawan.

The mining company was slapped with a fine of P375,000 in March 2013 for a silt spill at its Toronto mine in Narra, Palawan, in November 2012.

The damage to several farm lots covering an area of about 7 hectares was placed at P146,745, and to the Pinagduguan River at P368,000.

After settling the penalty and completing remediation measures, the company was eventually allowed to resume its operation in Narra.

Meanwhile, environmental groups under the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) urged the MGB to cancel the Minerals Processing Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of CMDC.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM, said the silt spill on Saturday only proves "how irresponsible CMDC is in operating the Toronto mines."

The group said the latest silt spill contaminated at least 5 kilometers of the Pulot River, which is a source of potable water of residents and wildlife in the area.

"How many more disasters does it need to commit before it will be stopped? It is high time that MGB orders a cancellation of the company's MPSA and other pertinent certificates so that Citinickel would stop their environmental crimes." Garganera said.

ATM questioned the DENR-MGB and the Mining Industry Coordinating Council's (MICC) efficiency in implementing the provision of Executive Order No. 79, which mandates quarterly performance review of operating mines in the country.

Garganera said the DENR-MGB and the MICC are just as accountable as CMDC in the latest mining disaster for their failure to ensure the practice of responsible mining by CMDC.


After rains, tailings flow into river in Palawan

By Redempto Anda

Inquirer Southern Luzon

10 June 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines- Tailings from the siltation pond of a large-scale nickel mining company operating in Sofronio Española town in southern Palawan province have contaminated a major river tributary following heavy rains since Friday, local officials said.

Sofronio Española Mayor Marcelito Acoy, in a phone interview on Monday, said the extent of contamination caused by mine wastes from Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. in Pulot River, a source of potable water for the town

160 kilometers south of this city, was still being assessed.

Residents, however, have appealed for immediate assistance, saying they have no other water sources. Even wells dug near the riverbank are contaminated, they said.

Citinickel acknowledged in a statement on Monday that one of the company's siltation ponds was "scoured" following heavy rains on Saturday morning, "causing water to be released into the river."

"We have taken all necessary steps to mitigate, if not eliminate the inconvenience caused to them (residents), including providing them with an alternative source of clean water," it said.

Citinickel, a company of the Filipino-owned Tanchay Group that holds several mining concessions in various parts of the country, is engaged in nickel ore mining in the towns of Narra and Sofronio Española.

At least a 5-kilometer stretch of the river was contaminated, Acoy said. Residents have described it as "chocolate-colored."

"We cannot use the river anymore. We can't even let our animals drink water from it because it is very dangerous," farmer Michael Lagrada said in Filipino in another phone interview.

Last year, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau suspended Citinickel operations temporarily following a similar case of laterite (oil rich in iron, aluminum and nickel ores) contamination of portions of Sofronio Española's coastal area.

The mining company is also facing stiff opposition from the Tagbanua and Palawan tribes that had initially agreed to allow its operations in their ancestral lands but withdrew support over its failure to pay royalty funds to them.


UP forest advocates harassed, barred from tree planting in mining-affected area by mining security

‘Reforestation not allowed here,' police said to environmentalists

Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders Press Release

4 June 2014

Environmental advocates condemned today the security forces of a mining corporation in Nueva Vizcaya province for harassing students and professors from the University of the Philippines (UP) trekking to the mining-affected community of Sitio Bit-ang, Barangay Runruno.

"Forest advocates from UP who were on a tree-planting activity in Barangay Runruno were harassed by heavily armed security personnel of FCF Minerals Corporation and local policemen. Since when did efforts to plant trees and ultimately reforest an important watershed area affected by mining development activities become a prohibited action? We condemn this latest episode of violation of our environmental defenders' rights by FCF Minerals and call for an immediate investigation into the matter," said Leon Dulce, spokesperson for the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED) and campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

The UP contingent, composed of 3 professors and 12 students who are members of a university-based environmental organization including a reporter from the university's publication Philippine Collegian, was held up by 13 security guards in civilian clothes for more than 6 hours, preventing them from conducting their tree-planting activity last May 31. The group had already secured earlier a permission to visit the community.

"A certain PO1 Primo Valdez told the group that ‘reforesting Sitio Bit-ang is not allowed.' This is absurd considering that we need to protect our forests especially the watershed areas of Nueva Vizcaya," said UP Prof. Joanne Manzano, member of the regional advocacy group Taripnong Cagayan Valley and participant in the tree-planting activity.

According to Noni Abao, member of the university-based group Minggan-UP Diliman that sponsored the tree-planting activity, "we can only surmise that FCF Minerals Corporation is behind the action of barring our volunteers. The mining firm stands to gain from minimizing visitors arriving in Sitio Bit-ang. With few visitors to the area, the issue [of mining] in the community will remain unknown to many."

Several human rights violations have already been previously recorded in the area. In March 2009, FCF filed a harassment case against residents who refuse to sell their lands to the company. In December 16, 2012, local residents who put up a people's barricade were violently dispersed by FCF and local police. Last June 2013, houses of small scale miners in the area were demolished by FCF security and PNP elements.

Threats to indigenous people's rights

The mining firm, which owns a 3,000-hectare gold and molybdenum mining project in Barangay Runruno under a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), is planning to demolish structures in Sitio Bit-ang as part of their mining operations. Community members have long been protesting the entry of the big mining project, having set up barricades, sent letters of protest to authorities, and conducting dialogues with local government officials.

"During a fact-finding mission we held in Brgy. Runruno last year, FCF Minerals cited that they have ‘mineral rights' on the land below the properties of the peasants and indigenous people in the area, who only had ‘surface rights' and thus can be displaced by the mining company. This is a clear example of how state and private security forces are used to perpetrate rights abuses towards citizens opposed to destructive mining operations," explained Dulce.

"We fear that what happened to us will also be done to indigenous peoples in Nueva Vizcaya. If they can intimidate professors and students from the University of the Philippines, they can surely do it with the residents of the communities," Prof. Manzano furthered.

Threats to right to balanced ecology

Prof. Manzano said that the FCF Minerals' FTAA "allows mining firms to cut down our trees, utilize and even pollute our water sources and expel people from their homes and take away their livelihood all in the name of profit for large foreign mining firms."

A total of 515,520 hectares of watershed reserves have been proclaimed in Nueva Vizcaya. The province has in fact been declared by NEDA as a "watershed haven" supporting seven multi-million infrastructure projects for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation purposes, including the Magat and Casecnan Hydroelectric Power Dams.

The mining operations will also threaten the biodiversity of the Sierra Madre mountain range," lamented Abao. "It is quite tragic to know that one of the country's last frontiers will be wiped-out because of greed."

The province is also home to forest reserves and protected areas, including parts of the Palali-Mamparang Mountain Range, a section of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Kasibu and Quezon towns that is one of the eight biodiversity hot spots in the country.

"By preventing the work of environmental advocates, violating the rights of indigenous peoples and anti-mining activists, and perpetrating environmental destruction, FCF Minerals is clearly one of the biggest threats to our rights to land, life, and a healthful and balanced ecology in Nueva Vizcaya. These human rights violations should be immediately investigated by the Commission on Human Rights and the provincial government, and FCF Minerals' permit should be cancelled if proven guilty," ended Dulce.

###

Reference:

Allan Mesina, Taripnong Secretariat - 0920 675 2468
Leon Dulce, TF-JED - 0917 562 6824


Religious leaders seek court order to stop coal-fired plant

Philippine Daily Inquirer

16 June 2014

GENERAL SANTOS CITY-Militant religious leaders here recently led the filing of a petition at the Sarangani Regional Trial Court for the issuance of an environment protection order against the builders of a coal-fired power plant near Sarangani Bay.

Sarangani Bay is a protected marine sanctuary and the power plant's construction was damaging its ecosystem, they said.

Fr. Rey Ondap, executive director of Passionist Center for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, and Sr. Susan Bolanio of Oblates of Notre Dame expressed optimism that the court would listen to their appeal.

"This is a battle between crass materialism [and] environmental protection. Lust for profit versus our resolve to protect ecology from further degradation," Ondap said

Ondap and Bolanio's group said the construction of the 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Kamanga in Maasim, Sarangani province, was damaging to the ecosystem of the protected Sarangani Bay.

The coal plant, owned by the Alcantaras' Sarangani Energy Corp. (SEC), was scheduled to go on commercial stream in the last quarter of 2015.

In filing the petition, the opponents of the power plant quoted an affidavit issued by John Heitz, a diving enthusiast and a former US Peace Corps volunteer.

In his affidavit, Heitz said corals were being damaged as SEC constructed a barge-landing facility that would help run the coal-fired plant.

"I could not say the exact extent of the damage. But it is continuing each passing day. I'm just hoping that the appropriate punishment would be imposed against those responsible," Heitz told the Inquirer in an earlier interview.

Heitz said even the artificial corals that he and his diving buddy, Chris Dearne, had deployed in Sarangani Bay had been damaged by SEC's construction activities.

In their petition, Ondap and Bolanio's group asked the court to save the remaining corals and protect the marine ecosystem in the area by halting SEC's construction activities.

They also asked the court to direct concerned agencies to conduct a comprehensive survey to determine the extent of the damage the construction activities had wrought.

Joel Aton, SEC project assurance manager, said the firm expected damage to the ecosystem of the bay during the construction.

He said this was the reason the company had included the rehabilitation of damaged marine structures in its environment impact statement.

"SEC will replace or rehabilitate the disturbed marine resources," Aton said in a text message to the Inquirer. Aquiles Z. Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao


Philex's P189 payout is just another PR gimmick-IP group

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

9 June 2014

Not everyone is applauding Philex Mining Corporation's payout of the P 188.6-M fine imposed by the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) for violating the Clean Water Act of 2004. The recent fine is in addition to the P 1.034 billion fine imposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to Philex for violating its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). These fines were imposed after a leak in Philex's waste storage facility, Tailings Pond 3 (TP3), released 20 million metric tons of mine wastes in tributaries of the Agno River in Northern Luzon in August 2012. Environmentalists described the mine tailing spill as the ‘worst mine disaster in Philippine history.'

"The penalizing and the payout seems staged for Philex's benefit. This just another PR gimmick of the government's poster boy for ‘responsible' mining," said Piya Macliing Malayao of indigenous peoples' organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP.) "It boasts of what it defines as its duty to the State by giving away a small fraction of its profits. Filipinos must remember that Philex dumped 20 million metric tons of mine wastes into the Agno River, washing away farmlands, houses, and boats on the riverbanks. This massive mine spill only adds up to the environmental degradation done by fifty-six years of mining, which Philex refuses to acknowledge and compensate," Malayao added.

"Philex was quick to pay the P189 fine because they know it is a good deal," Malayao claimed. "They are paying off for killing a 2.5 kilometer-long tributary. That amount is nowhere near the destruction it has caused to the Balog River," she added.

Malayao also raised doubts over the full cleanup and rehabilitation of the Balog Creek and downstream tributaries. An Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) was conducted a few weeks after the mine leak, headed by Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan (Agham). The EIM declared the Balog Creek ‘biologically dead.' According to the the EIM report, no sign of living things or any form of life found in the Balog River, and also found that the river has a high concentration of toxic substances.

KAMP also criticized the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources for allowing Philex to use its fines for its own cleanup operations. "These fines are punishment for unsafe and irresponsible mining practices. To clean, rehabilitate, and compensate affected residents is its responsibility. We demand no less from Philex," Malayao said.

The group demanded the just compensation of affected communities, including downstream communities in Pangasinan. "Philex should take responsibility and compensate for the adverse effects of its operations in Itogon and Tuba and to the communities downstream of the Agno. The communities of San Manuel, San Felipe East, and San Felipe West were severely affected by the mine spill, in addition to the protracted effects of the five-decade mine operations," Malayao said.

The group also demanded the decommissioning of the TP3. "What Philex uses as the only measure from killing off the Agno River is a geriatric tailings pond, whose life is extended only by plugging in leaks. Could we trust that the TP3 to withstand the rainy seasons and hold in millions of metric tons of mine waste? The government must not allow this clear endangerment of the environment and of the people," Malayao said.

Philex Mining Corporation's Padcal Mines has operated at the heart of the Cordilleras for the past fifty-six years. It hosts a mining community of 14,000 people composed primarily of indigenous peoples. The mines, covering an aggregate of 95 hectares of lands in Benguet, were the ancestral territories of a number of Igorot tribes.#

References: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson 0917-3631576
Lea Fullon, Public Information Offcer, 0998-2972500

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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(02)412-5340 | katutubongmamamayan.org


Philex pays P188-M fine over Padcal mine leak

ABS-CBNnews.com

6 June 2014

MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining, led by businessman Manuel Pangilinan, on Friday said paid a P188 million fine to the government over the tailings leak at Padcal mine in Benguet in 2012.

The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) had imposed the P188.6 million fine on Philex in connection with the accidental discharge of non-toxic water and sediment from Padcal's tailings storage facility no. 3 (TSF3), in violation of the Clean Water Act of 2004 (RA 7295).

"We've always expressed our commitment to abide by government rules, including on environmental protection, for our smooth operations and continued service to our country and to all our other stakeholders... We will today pay our obligation to the government," Philex Mining CEO and President Eulalio Austin, Jr. said.

The company's main mining site in the northern mountain district of Padcal suffered a spill of mine waste or "tailings" in August 2012 after the area was hit by two powerful typhoons.

In its five-page resolution, PAB noted that the effluent and water samples collected and analyzed from Balog Creek and Agno River from March 14-15, 2013 were "within the water quality criteria required by government."

This was similar to the test done by the Environmental Management Bureau last October 18, 2012 on the creek and river, where the TSF3 discharged its non-toxic water.

"After a thorough review of the recommendation of the Board, applicable legal principles as well as the arguments advanced by [Philex Mining] in its [motion for reconsideration], the undersigned deems it just to partially reconsider the original order," the PAB said in a five-page order signed by presiding officer, Environment Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio, Jr.

Philex had also paid a record P1.034 billion fine to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for the accident.

Last March, Philex said it had completed the cleanup and rehabilitation work in its copper-gold mine in Benguet required for the resumption of normal operations.


MGB orders strict enforcement of black sand mining rules

By Czeriza Valencia

The Philippine Star

12 June 2014

MANILA, Philippines - The national government has ordered local government chief executives to strictly enforce restrictions on black sand and beach mining to prevent the destruction of coastlines and stop the illegal extraction of minerals, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said yesterday.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), in coordination with the MGB, issued a memorandum circular on April 4 ordering provincial chief executives to cancel the sand and gravel permits of and file charges against entities who use their permits for black sand mining, those operating within prohibited zones, and small scale miners who engage in black sand mining.

The order also enjoins local government units to strictly ban the extraction of minerals in beaches.

"The order is meant to prevent any illegal extraction of black sand.

There are gravel and sand permit holders who use their permits to mine black sand," said MGB director Leo Jasareno in a phone interview.

Local government units can issue two types of permit for the extraction of gravel and sand: Commercial Sand and Gravel Permit (CSGP) which is valid for one year renewable for one or more terms but not exceeding 25 years; and Industrial Sand and Gravel Permit (ISGP) valid for five years and renewable for one or more terms but not to exceed 25 years.

Citing Republic Act 265, also known as An Act Prohibiting the Extraction of Gravel and Sand from Beaches, the DILG noted that the extraction of gravel and sand are prohibited in beaches.

The DILG also cited the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Mining Act of 1995 which states that no mineral extraction shall be allowed within one kilometer from the boundaries of reservoirs established for public water supply, archaeological and historic sites, and any public works.

Likewise, mineral extraction is prohibited within 500 meters from the coast.

"The new mining policy (Executive Order 79) also stipulates that small scale mining shall only be conducted within Minahang Bayan areas. Small- scale miners are also prohibited from extracting iron," said Jasareno.

As such, all local government units are instructed to strictly monitor and enforce compliance to the legal restriction and mining and quarrying activities and to coordinate with the MGB as needed.

The MGB has been coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on stopping the illicit operations of black sand miners in several provinces such as Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and Cagayan among others.

Black sand extraction along beaches could erode coastlines, causing floods in coastal communities.

Black sand, or magnetite, is a component of steel production. Many black sand miners in the Philippines export to smelters in China.

The MGB is also laying down the groundwork for the establishment of more Minahang Bayan sites where small- scale mining activities would be confined.

The MGB has completed the proposed revisions to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Small- Scale Mining Act of 1991 that would pave the way for the declaration of more Minahang Bayan areas.

The IRR was revised pursuant to the provisions of the new mining policy that provides for the formalization of small- scale mining operations in the country.

There are only three established Minahang Bayan sites in the country with 10 applications awaiting approval by the MGB.

With the enforcement of the revised IRR, the operations of the small-scale miners would be placed under direct supervision of the MGB.

In the past, small -scale miners were regulated by local government units that lack the technical expertise in monitoring the operations of over 3,000 small miners nationwide.

In compliance with the new mining policy, small scale mining operations has been limited to the extraction of gold, silver and chromite. The use of hydraulic and compressor mining methods has been prohibited as well as the use of mercury in any phase of mineral processing.

There would be no limitations, however, on the extraction of non-metallic minerals.

Meanwhile, Bluemax Tradelink Inc. said it is not involved in any illegal black sand mining activities Zambales.

The company said its only activity in Zambales particularly in Botolan is the exportation of lahar sand to Singapore for their massive reclamation project and that this is backed by all the necessary permits.

Bluemax described as black propaganda recent reports that they were among those companies doing questionable mining operations in Zambales especially the black sand mining.

"Bluemax is in the business of extracting lahar sand not black sand as erroneously reported in Botolan, Zambales," the company said in a statement.

Lahar, the flow of volcanic debris that came from the Pinatubo eruption in 1991, is a perennial problem in the province of Zambales especially when the rainy season begins, Bluemax pointed out.

When rain mixes with the volcanic sand on the slopes of Pinatubo, it flows down as lahar clogging the river channels and overflowing to the fields and roads, it added. Lahar and sand practically destroys everything in its path.

The government, specifically the DPWH is incapable of extracting lahar from these areas due to lack of resources, so through provincial governments, it commissions private companies like Bluemax to do it for them practically for free, the statement said.

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