Philippines: A Deadly Difference of World ViewPublished by MAC on 2014-10-08
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Star, Business Mirror (2014-10-08)
The Philippine Chamber of Mines has organised another annual mining conference in the Philippines. It led to the customary gaggle of industry headlines, pressuring the government to stop reforms aimed both at gaining more revenue for the state and to freeze the declaration of "no-go" zones, or areas where mining is prohibited.
Those with concerns about mining also took the opportunity of the conference to mount street protests and an excellent statement from the group Lilak, drew comparisons between the priorities of the mine owners and those who were being killed for opposing the mines.
Despite the industry propaganda drive, it seems that anti-mining advocates may be winning ground, with 47% of provinces in the country having at least one local government unit (LGU) that has passed anti-mining resolutions.
A picket was also organised against OceanaGold, raising grave concerns about severe water pollution, revealed in a recently-concluded scientific investigation at its Didipio mine.
Interntional support was expressed for the people of El Salvador, which is being sued by the same company in international arbitration, after the government cancelled a mining license for Pacific Rim (which OceanaGold subsequently purchased).
While all appears relatively quiet at the site of Glencore's proposed Tampakan mine, it looks like Glencore's junior partner, Indophil, may finally have bailed out of the project by selling its interest to the local Alsons Group.
If concluded, this will give a greater share to traditional politicians (trapos), which may not be a good thing for local communities who are already under severe pressure.
A Deadly Difference of World View
Statement from LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights)
21 September 2014
In his speech in the recently concluded Mining Conference 2014 organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP), Vice-President Jejomar Binay said that, "We must take an accurate inventory of our nation's natural resources and if possible plot a schedule for harnessing these resources with long-term goals firmly in mind." This was a great assurance to CoMP president Benjamin Philip Romualdez, also of Benguet Corp, that should Binay take over the government administration in 2016, there will be no change in the government development path. Romualdez' line has been consistent: "We must make full use of our resources."
Fausto Orasan, known as Datu Sandigan, to the Higaonons in his community, believed otherwise. Abundant with minerals such as gold, the ancestral domain of the Higaonons in Cagayan de Oro have been subjected to several mining explorations and under Datu Sandigan's leadership, the community consistently refused and condemned mining operations. Datu Sandigan believed that its possible to pursue economic activities that would alleviate the lives of the people without destroying the environment or compromising indigenous people's rights.
Datu Sandigan had been steadfast in his defense of his ancestral domain, and had played an active role in the protection of the natural resources not only within his tribe's ancestral domain but of the entire Cagayan de Oro city.
This commitment, and difference of view with those who push for the extractive, exploitative and destructive industry of mining and logging, has cost Datu Sandigan's life. In the afternoon of September 13, 2014, Datu Sandigan was gunned down by unidentified men in Sitio Cabalang, Barangay Tuburan, Cagayan de Oro City while he was on his way home from a meeting. He died instantly from the multiple gunshot wounds in his body.
Bae Matatao Orasan, his wife, was joined in her mourning, by the Higaonon community, and the local government of Cagayan de Oro. The City Environment Officer described Datu Sandigan as the "soul of the forests". Datu Sandigan had been an active partner of the local Environment Office in the campaign to preserve the remaining forests in the city uplands. He was part of several raids in mining and logging sites conducted by the local government.
On the day before he was killed, Datu Sandigan received a death threat. Apparently, not the first. In fact, according to Bae Matatao, in June last year, Datu Sandigan was shot in their house by still an unknown assailant, but he survived that attempt on his life.
Indeed, the message was loud and clear - the extractive industry in Cagayan de Oro is a serious big business, and anyone who crosses its path, has to be silenced. At all cost.
This is so in the entire Philippines. Datu Sandigan is the 26th community rights defender against mining and other exploitation of natural resources who was killed under the Aquino administration. (source: ATM)
The view that natural resources is for corporate profit, and that human rights, and lives are simply part of business expense, seem to be so ingrained in our system, that not even the change of administration will change this development model. What is demanded now is a radical shift in how we look at our resources, and our people. The natural resources are finite. The massive exploitation of nature has increased the vulnerability of communities to the dire impacts of climate change. The conversion of food sources - farms, rivers and seas, forests - to open pit mines and tailings disposal is worsening people's hunger. Future generations will have to continue to rely on nature for their survival. To rob them of nature's generosity is inequitable, and unjust.
Datu Sandigan's fate is both a cautionary and inspirational story. It reminds us of what we are up against and what it takes to win our struggles. Most of all it reminds us why we must stand and continue to fight. The risks are great, but the costs of not standing up and not speaking out are even greater.
As Romualdez led the delegates of the Mining Conference 2014 to its conclusion, they applauded and congratulated themselves for another year of profit. Meanwhile, Bae Matatao, along with the family and supporters of Datu Sandigan, laid her husband, the tribal leader, and the community rights defender, to rest.
May the soul of the forest rest in peace.
May justice be served for Datu Sandigan, and the other community rights advocates who were killed, but not silenced.
Emerging National Green Party Supports Protest Against Mining in the Philippines!
17 September 2014
Partido Luntian; an emerging national green political party operating in 9 regions, 27 provinces and 52 major cities nationwide, expresses its solidarity and support for the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and other anti mining advocates in their week-long campaign to protest continued mining operations in the Philippines within the context of the Mining Act of 2005.
The emerging green party stands firm on its position of "minimizing mining" in the Philippines. We are pushing that "...mining be accorded least priority among the options for land use and revenue generations; with a minerals management regime that prioritize local community development and appropriate income for the government, equitable distribution of benefits and shared responsibility among all stakeholders"
Current mining in the Philippine is not contributing to sustainable development. According to Kalikasan Muna Zambales Movement Convenor and Party Central Luzon Chapter Chairperson Hilary "Padz" Pangan, "Zambales is now one of the poorest province in the country, yet with the most number of mines!"
"What we have in the Philippines is unsustainable extraction of our finite natural resources. We oppose this especially so that it has not brought better economic development", adds Pacencia Milan, Ph.D., Eastern Visayas Regional Chapter Party Chair. Dr. Pacing is part of VEAM (VISCA Environmental Movement) in Baybay City, Leyte and together with other academic institutions successfully opposed mining by pushing their city council to passed a local ordinance for a moratorium of mining in Baybay City. "While in other areas where mining has happen; like in MacArthur, Leyte and in many other communities nationwide, citizens are opposing mining such as the black sand mining in MacArthur as it destroys their rivers and rice fields", she adds.
"Our current mining system threatens our food security and promotes further conflicts within communities. It threatens the tri-people of Mindanao " declares Abdullah "Aby" Pato, Party Central Mindanao Chapter Chairperson who is also Lead Convenor of Task Force Food Sovereignty from Kidapawan City. He explains further that the mining operations in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat is causing massive erosion impacting on critical catch basins such as the Liguasan Marsh, a biodiversity-rich ecosystem and home to many species endemic to the marsh.
As members of the ATM protest the International Conference hosted by the COMP (Chamber of Mines of the Philippines) and march in the historic Mendiola to bring the opposition of a growing number of local communities against mining to the doorsteps of Malacanang Palace, we voice our solidarity with them for this struggle.
We continue to commit support for the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) that will rationalize, nationalize and fundamentally reform mining focusing it and minimizing it to a point that it serves directly our national green development goals and acting only as last resort after optimizing on mineral recycling and only in areas where a complete natural resource valuation and proper land use assessment will show that it does not compete with the use of land for food security and forest and marine conservation.
For more information, please contact:
Hilary "Padz" Pangan,Party Spokesperson & Central Luzon Chapter Chairperson
Mobile Phone 0918-2532281| Email: vjoshuah2000[at]yahoo.co.jp
Mendiola March to pressure Malacanang against mining
ATM Press Release
18 September 2014
Mendiola March to pressure Malacanang against mining
Environmental groups spearheaded by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) finished off their week-long anti-mining solidarity activity on Thursday, September 18 with an estimate of 1000 advocates marching from Plaza Miranda to Mendiola.
The groups emphasized their message to Malacanang that mining is a destructive industry and recalled their messages during the "Run For Life No TO Mining" run and "Parada ng Mga Sakuna". AMMB was also once again highlighted as the advocates screamed for the passage of the bill in Congress.
"Our numbers are not just mere numbers" said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.
"The sea of environmental advocates, human rights defenders, political organizations, civil society organizations and peoples organizations represent our unwavering spirit to protect our environment against the destructive impacts of the mining industry." He added.
Among the organizations that supported ATM over the past week were AKBAYAN partylist, Aniban ng Manggagawang sa Agirkultura (AMA), Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), SANLAKAS, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), SOS-Yamang Bayan, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and KPML.
"Our calls for environmental protection and human rights assertion will never falter." Said Fr, Oli Castor of PMPI.
"Though we had the misfortune of losing brothers and sisters in this battle against corporate greed and impunity, the memory of Juvy Capion, her two sons, and many other environmental advocates who were killed, will always serve as a reminder on why we will keep on fighting." Added Fr. Castor.
A local organization opposing mining in Cagayan province joined the protest, echoing ATM's demands. Alliance for Buguey Committed for Development Association (ALBUCODA) headed by Rosbin Martin has led a campaign that led to the suspension of black-sand mining in the town of Buguey, Cagayan.
Martin was joined by leaders of two other peoples organizations - Aparrianos Movement for the Conservation and Environmental Protection (AMCEP) and Concerned Laloeno Against Illegal Mining (CLAIM) - both also from Cagayan, have lodged complaints at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau against black-sand mining.
"We are one with ATM in this vision of putting those who have wronged our environment with their viscous and destructive mining operations to be put to a stop once and for all.
"As someone who has experienced the first-hand adverse effects of mining, it has been a personal vow to ensure that our children and our children's children will still be able to enjoy a safe and bountiful earth." said Martin.
Other mining-affected areas from Nueva Viscaya, Romblon, Leyte, Cagayan, Cantilan and Zambales also joined the solidarity protest of the environmental groups by performing local solidarity actions in their respective areas.
In a closing message, Garganera reiterated that "there is no future in mining for the Filipinos if the Mining Act of 1995 and current practices will prevail." He also called on the government to "Stop the plunder, Scrap the Philippine Mining of 1995, enact the Alternative Minerals Management Bill, and uphold human rights."
"For those who think that our advocacies end here today, I am afraid that they are sadly mistaken. ATM will continue to help, uphold and defend mining-affected areas until the plunder, the abuse and the violations have stopped." concluded Garganera.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0927) 761.76.02 nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer (0927) 623.50.66 media.comms[at]alyansatigilmina.net
Primo Morillo, PMPI, Advocacy Staff, (0922) 850. 18. 74
Rosbin Martin, ALBUCODA Head, (0917) 859.14.20
Are anti-mining advocates winning the war?
21 September 2014
ANTI-MINING advocates are apparently winning the war against mining companies despite the industry's potential to boost the country's growth and development.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), 47 percent, or 38 out of 81 provinces, of the country have at least one local government unit (LGU) with anti-mining resolutions.
These are LGUs in Leyte, Romblon, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Marinduque, Bukidnon, Capiz, Davao City, Mindoro provinces, Antique, Bohol, Samar, South Cotabato, La Union, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Aklan, Cagayan de Oro City, Sultan Kudarat and Iloilo.
There are also 10 proposed measures filed in the House of Representatives seeking to prohibit mining in 10 provinces: Catanduanes, Romblon, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Davao City, Sorsogon, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan de Oro and Biliran.
Anti-mining advocates oppose mining because, according to them, mining leads to the massive destruction of the country's forests-including watersheds and natural habitats of some of the country's unique and endemic, but critically endangered wildlife, including flora and fauna.
Speaking during the Mining Philippines 2014 Conference and Exhibition at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said the LGUs having anti-mining resolutions is a result of the anti-mining sentiments being aired by groups in various parts of the country.
This is despite the employment opportunities, development projects, such as roads, schools, health centers and other infrastructure projects, and forest-rehabilitation efforts of some big mining companies as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.
Jasareno, who presented Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje's report on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources's mining-reform initiatives, said policy inconsistencies between national and local laws are among the pressing issues being addressed by the government.
It was also raised by mining's big players during the conference.
The multibillion-dollar Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in Southern Philippines, for instance, is being delayed by such policy inconsistency between the national and local laws.
An ordinance in South Cotabato bans the use of open-pit mining in the province. This method is, however, allowed under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
During the kick-off ceremonies of the three-day conference on Tuesday, neophyte Sen. Grace Poe said the mining industry needs to be more transparent and address issues against mining in the country.
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who delivered a keynote speech at the same event on Wednesday, made a pronouncement that national laws should supersede local laws in mining in case of conflict.
Aside from the policy inconsistencies, the declaration of "no-go" zones in mining, which bans mining in certain areas, have triggered howls of protests, particularly because many of the areas where mining is banned are actually mineralized areas. Areas where mining is supposed to be allowed, on the other hand, are those with no feasible mineral deposits to exploit.
Jasareno said the MGB had already formally requested the Mining Industry Coordinating Council for a total review of the mining no-go zones because the map used in plotting the no-go zones by the technical working group that identified the areas where mining is supposed to be banned used a map with a small scale, resulting in many areas eventually being closed to mining.
The MGB chief said around 500 mining-exploration applications stand to be affected unless a review is done to accurately pinpoint no-go zones.
Experts say the country has enormous potential in terms of resources, but has become the least attractive to investors, both local and foreign, because of inconsistent policies.
Reforms to Mining Act opposed
By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11 September 2014
MANILA, Philippines-The joint foreign chambers and local business groups have pressed the government anew to respect the Philippine Mining Act as proposed reforms to the law threaten to make the sector even more unattractive to foreign investors.
In a briefing Wednesday, Julian H. Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said a proposal by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council would place the so-called average effective tax rate (AETR) for mining at a high of 79 percent, making the Philippines one of the least attractive locations for mining investments.
The current mining fiscal regime places the AETR (which covers all taxes and fees paid by a company throughout a mine's lifetime) at about 60 percent.
This, Payne said, was already higher than the 58 percent in Canada and Australia; 50-55 percent in Peru and South Africa; 41 percent in Chile; and 35 percent in Papua New Guinea.
"Mining companies will go where the proposed fiscal regime is a lot more attractive. Mining companies will not invest in the Philippines (under that regime). The end result is that there will be less investment in mining, and less revenue for the government," Payne said.
"The argument that (minerals) are national resources and that a bigger share should go to the people than mining companies should (take account the fact) that these mining activities generate jobs and not just tax revenues. The total direct employment in 2012 was a quarter of a million, while the indirect jobs generated numbered 1.8 million in 2012, which was almost twice the size of the BPO industry. Thus, when we talk of share of national wealth going to the country, you just don't talk about taxes. We should talk of employment," he added.
As it is, the Philippines has been ranked by the Fraser Institute of Canada among the top 10 least attractive locations, largely due to policy and bureaucratic obstructions and lack of government support.
This was despite the fact that the country was ranked by the same institution as among the most attractive countries for mineral development in terms of mineral potential alone.
Of the 9 million hectares that have high mineral potential, only 60,000 hectares, or about 35 percent, are occupied by large-scale mines. The Philippines' mining reserves are estimated to be worth $1.4 trillion.
Other key obstacles seen hampering the growth of the mining industry include policy instability; unpredictable legal systems such as challenges to the constitutionality of the Mining Act; illegal mining and security concerns; and the declaration of "no-go" zones that covered about 65 percent of the country.
As such, the business community presented eight recommendations meant to help revitalize the mining industry.
Based on the groups' policy brief, the business community has urged the government to come up with a fiscal policy that is competitive and equitable; respect and implement the Philippine Mining Act; and continue processing mining applications and begin issuing approvals for new projects.
"We're not optimistic but we're here because we believe that the Philippines has to understand the benefits of responsible mining. In the short term, we hope the recommendations will be taken up. The Philippines cannot afford not to have responsible mining, as this is directly linked to addressing poverty and unemployment," said Ian Porter of the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (Philippines).
Government blamed for mining sector's failure to realize full potential
Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga
10 September 2014
THE Philippines is a country of enormous potential because of its rich mineral resources, which, sadly, remain largely untapped because of poor policy and regulation, said Michael Raeuber, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP).
Interviewed during a news conference highlighting the launch of the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce's Policy Brief No. 3, titled "Responsible Mining: Realizing its Potential," Raeuber said the mining sector can still greatly contribute to the country's economic growth-which it has done in the past-if the government puts in place the right policy environment that will make mining globally competitive.
Raeuber, who presented "Arangkada Philippines 2010: A Business Perspective," discussed the enormous potential of the minerals-development sector. He said the current contribution of mining to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) remains miniscule even though its mineral resources amount to trillions of US dollars because of the very little, insignificant tapping of the potential.
"We have trillions of US dollar assets here in the country that are untapped. If you leave it on the ground, it will remain untapped," he said.
The Policy Brief on Mining underscores the vast potential of the minerals-development sector in contributing to the country's economic growth. According to the policy brief, citing various data, by 2003, mineral products were only 2 percent of total export value but after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act in 2005, the industry experienced a substantial increase in export production, growing up to 4.36 percent of total exports.
Raeuber said the government is to be blamed for the mining sector's poor performance and inability to realize its full economic potential. The policy brief said that inconsistent policy actions, moratoria on approvals of new production, designation of widespread "no go" zones, and a proposed, tougher fiscal regime that may be introduced by the government have left the future expansion of the industry highly uncertain.
In 2013 the mining industry contributed P78 billion, or roughly around 0.7 percent of GDP, to the economy and employed 250,000 people, which was about 0.7 percent of the national employment.
Raeuber said there is a need to make mining in the Philippines more competitive, to lure more investors that could spur economic growth
"The mining industry will only go [to the Philippines] if they find a competitive situation, if they can earn money, if they find that the Philippines is competitive. If they find the Philippines is uncompetitive, then they will not invest," he said.
"Foreign direct investment in the Philippines is not only in mining. But overall, it is the lowest," he said.
In the past, he said, the mining sector significantly contributed to the country's economy.
"The Philippines is a country of enormous potential and we hope that it will not stay that way," he said.
Nelia Halcon, executive vice president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, enjoined academe to have a dialogue on the existing revenue-sharing scheme with the aim of convincing the government to revisit the said regime.
Policy recommendations put forward by the panel included an appeal for local government to respect national law so that local government units may not block mining activities through local ordinances; observe international practice in ensuring that all government agencies respect existing contracts; and no-go zones should not be declared without proper evaluation of the relative value of the zone.
Arangkada Philippines project is an advocacy of the Joint Foreign Chambers, which includes The Joint Foreign Chambers in the Philippines composed of the Philippine chapters of the American Chamber of Commerce; Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce; Japanese Chamber; Canadian Chamber; European Chamber; and the Korean Chamber; and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters.
The third policy brief is also sponsored by the Makati Business Club, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., among other local business groups.
(With Catherine N. Pillas)
Miners urge gov't to make changes in Phl mining regime
By Czeriza Valencia
The Philippine Star
17 September 2014
MANILA, Philippines - The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) yesterday urged the government to make changes in the country's mining regime that would benefit both the industry and the country.
Addressing industry stakeholders on the first day of Mining Philippines 2014, COMP president Benjamin Philip Romualdez said the industry recognizes the need to protect the environment and develop communities that host mining operations, but the government must also allow the industry to maximize the use of the country's natural resources.
"We have seen several bills that seek to amend the existing mining regime. It is our prayer that Congress and the Senate write the best laws to enhance the business of mining to improve the economic conditions of people who rely on resources. While doing this, of course, we must ensure that we are protecting the environment. We must make full use of our resources," he said.
"The industry views with great optimism the many moves to change some policies, but there are also policies that need not be changed. We trust the House of Representatives and the Senate would put the best interest of nation building and economic development at heart," added Romualdez, who is also the president and chief executive officer of mining firm Benguet Corp.
Since the issuance of the new mining policy in July 2012, the government and the extractive industry have been striving to find compromise on a number of changes in the country's mining regime, chief among which is the new revenue-sharing scheme between the government and the industry.
The government ultimately wants to increase its share of revenues from the mining industry, but the latest revenue-sharing proposal laid down by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council is deemed to render the industry uncompetitive and unattractive to investors.
MICC has approved the imposition of either a 10 percent tax on gross revenues or a tax of 55 percent on adjusted mining revenues plus a percentage of windfall profit, whichever would give higher revenues to the government.
Adjusted mining revenues pertain to the difference between gross sales and direct cost (direct mining cost and administrative expenses).
The new revenue sharing scheme would apply to metallic mining projects holding a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) and Financial Technical Assistance Agreement. (FTAA).
The draft-revenue sharing bill is still being reviewed by the Office of the President.
Pending the passage of the new revenue sharing bill, no new mineral agreements may be signed with the government although the Mines bureau continues to approve exploration permits.
Miners are also contesting a slew of other changes in the mining regime such as the mapping of the so-called no-go zone areas or areas where mining activities would be restricted or prohibited.
The business sector is not pleased with the results as it renders around 85 percent of the country's total land area off limits to exploration.
Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino also filed late in August a bill that would prohibit exports of mineral ores prior to processing.
The business sector, likewise, met the bull with apprehension as the local mining industry is not considered large enough to attract investments in smelting plants.
Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, whose Philex Mining Corporation, processes ore into concentrate, said the government must first encourage growth in the mining industry to encourage investments in the downstream sector.
Senator Grace Poe, who also addressed mining stakeholders during the event, said the government believes in the potential of the mining industry as a great contributor to the economy but called on companies to exercise greater transparency in their operations.
As such, Poe urged more mining firms to join the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international standard for transparency in the reporting of revenues generated from the exploitation of natural resources.
She acknowledged lawmakers need to fastrack the passage of the new revenue-sharing measure to jumpstart investments in the sector.
"The Philippine mining industry needs to move forward. We need to fast-track approval of the new revenue-sharing formula because $12 billion worth of mining projects (are on hold pending approval of the new revenue-sharing framework," she said.
Investors ask govt to review map on ‘no-go' mining zones
By Anna Leah G. Estrada
18 September 2014
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines asked the government to freeze the declaration of more "no-go" zones, or areas where mining is prohibited.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Julian Payne said in a speech on the third-day of the 2014 Mining Philippines Conference and Exhibition at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza about 65 percent of the Philippines' land area was currently closed to mining.
"There has been a rush in declaration of no-go zones for mining in the Philippines. This rush seems to be based more on anti-mining sentiment, than on a rational analysis and understanding of the impact on mining," Payne said.
Payne said the government should first conduct land-use assessments for all current and proposed no-go zones.
Areas not open to mining include tourism sites, protected areas, prime agricultural lands, lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, agri-fisheries sites and island ecosystems.
"The necessary step is for a proper objective assessment of land use to be completed for all current and proposed no-go zones, at least where there are known or expected mineral resources, to establish the relative benefits of use of the land for mining versus agriculture versus tourism versus urban and industrial development," Payne said.
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council earlier completed the mapping of no-go zones in the country.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, however, said the government was currently reviewing the no-go zone map due to some issues raised by the mining industry.
Paje said in a speech read by Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno when the agency subjected the first batch of nine exploration permit applications to the no-go zone map, the total open area was reduced by 50 percent.
Philippine environmentalists, indigenous people protest OceanaGold mine for ‘deception, displacement, and destruction'
Kalikasan-PNE Press Release
18 September 2014
Environmental advocates and indigenous people held a picket protest today at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) calling for a stop to the large-scale gold and copper mining operations of Australian corporation OceanaGold, raising grave concerns on severe water pollution revealed in a recently concluded scientific investigation.
"The massive heavy metal contamination of the riverine ecosystems affected by the mining operations of OceanaGold is a serious environmental risk that continues to affect the basic needs and livelihoods of the grassroots communities in Nueva Vizcaya. OceanaGold's operations should immediately be stopped by DENR to prevent further pollution, and should immediately hold these environmental criminals accountable," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
The results of an Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) conducted by Kalikasan PNE, scientist group AGHAM, and provincial alliance Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK) on the pollution caused by OceanaGold revealed that the heavy metal copper greatly exceeded the maximum tolerable levels, and was even 6.5 to 7.4 times greater than the safety limits for benthic (lowest level of a water body) organisms.
The copper concentration levels in the tested water was also found to be twice above the permitted levels for irrigation use and eight (8) times the maximum level for the survival of organisms. These levels would severely deplete fish and shellfish populations, and stunt the growth and productivity of agricultural lands that are irrigated or flooded by these waters.
"Impacts on the health and livelihood of communities, from those in the directly impacted sites and further downstream, will most likely worsen if OceanaGold continues its operations. Copper poisoning can cause various diseases that afflict our circulatory, digestive and excretory systems. Long-term exposures can damage our liver and kidneys," said Bautista.
"These heavy metals and other harmful chemicals can accumulate along the interconnections in Nueva Vizcaya's various ecosystems, which threatens its status as a watershed haven, biodiversity hotspot, and potential agricultural center of the Cagayan Valley," Bautista added.
The environmental group was joined by the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), AGHAM, and community members of Barangay Didipio, the host village of OceanaGold's mine.
In a statement, the Didipio residents cited various rights violations perpetrated by OceanaGold-including deceit and intimidation tactics, physical harassments, forceful evictions, perimeter fencing, and the demolition of their homes-that have left them without their homes, livelihood, and property.
They also said that OceanaGold "did not exercise caution in their mining operations when it endangered the environmental conditions of the site, including the river where many of the residents source their water and food."
Bautista noted that OceanaGold was a consistent environmental criminal throughout its different projects across the globe It has even figured in the filing of a USD $301 million lawsuit against the government of El Salvador in South America when the government ruled to deny OceanaGold's mining permit for failing to comply with community and environment regulations.
"We challenge the Aquino government to stand up against the corporate bully that is OceanaGold. The DENR must immediately order OceanaGold to cease and desist its operations. OceanaGold must be compelled to immediately compensate all communities it has adversely affected in its spate of environmental and rights violations, and ordered to immediately address all its outstanding environmental, social and cultural crimes-or else face permanent closure," ended Bautista.#
Reference: Clemente Bautista - 0922 844 9787
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Philippine groups express solidarity to people of El Salvador in fight against mining giant Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim Mining Corporation
Joint press release
10 September 2014
- Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity
- Philippine groups express solidarity to people of El Salvador in fight against mining giant Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim Mining Corporation
Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance against Mining-Philippines), Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights), Focus on the Global South and the EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign Network denounce the bullying of El Salvador by corporate mining giant Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim. We stand in solidarity with the people of El Salvador struggling to push back the large-scale plunder of their gold and natural resources perpetrated by mining corporations.
The David-versus-Goliath nature of this continuing battle between communities and the government against mining corporations in El Salvador is clearly evident in the ongoing investment case filed by Pacific Rim Cayman LLC against the Republic of El Salvador under the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Pacific Rim, a Canadian transnational mining company has sued El Salvador for $301 million over the government's denial of environmental permit and mining exploitation concession to its El Dorado gold project back in 2004 (ICSID Case No. ARB/09/12). The claim is a staggering amount, especially to a poor country like El Salvador. The compensation demanded by Pacific Rim against El Salvador represents around 42% of government spending in 2009, the year the case was filed at the ICSID.
This case is part of the long-drawn-out aggressive effort waged by Pacific Rim to overturn El Salvador's mining laws to conform to its application for concession, and it represents a clear assault on democratic governance in El Salvador.
The entry into the picture of Australian mining giant Oceana Gold, which acquired Pacific Rim in 2013 has brought this issue closer to groups and communities struggling against Oceana Gold and large scale mining in the Philippines.
We echo the concerns raised by the people of El Salvador against the operations of Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim Mining Corporation. Like them, communities in the Philippines have experienced the devastating impacts on water supplies, the health impacts among miners and mining communities, the increasing conflict, killing of activists and human rights abuses.
Oceana Gold's Record in the Philippines
The case of Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. (OGPI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Oceana Gold in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, underscores the company's track record when it comes to social and environmental issues as well as conflicts and human rights abuses.
OGPI's 17,626-hectare project has displaced and continues to affect the lives of indigenous communities. The residents of Didipio resist large-scale mining in their area on account of the adverse economic and environmental impacts of mining activities on their community.
OGPI's project has been given priority rights over water; three rivers, springs and other bodies of water are diverted for mine use. This takes away water for communities' household use and for agriculture. Additionally, the mine is situated in the headwater of the Rio Grande de Cagayam, one of the major rivers supplying water to the Northeast Philippines.
This is on top of the string of human rights violations that continue to hound the affected communities. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Philippines issued Resolution No. A2011-004 on January 2011, outlining the violations by OGPI during the project's exploration phase, including the violation of indigenous peoples' rights to residence, adequate housing and property, security of person and right to freedom of movement, and the "right of the indigenous people to manifest their culture and identity."
To date three lives have already been sacrificed due to the conflict. This is due to conflicting interests over land and peace and order problems in the barangay. The communities are currently engaged in a struggle against Oceana Gold's planned expansion of their mining operations to cover another 3,000 hectares, including prime agricultural lands and river tributaries.
The communities and movements campaigning against large-scale mining in the Philippines stand in solidarity with the people of El Salvador in their continuing fight against Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim and their struggle for a better life for all.
The all too aggressive push by corporations to get what they want at all costs-to the environment, to peoples' rights and welfare, to national sovereignty-is a blatant display of corporate abuse of power operating within an architecture of impunity that characterizes the global trade and investment regime.
The gold mining cases against El Salvador should also be a wake up call to the Philippine government of the dangers of investment rules that give corporations the power to sue governments, thereby putting corporate rights above regulations and policies of public interest.
There is a growing broad multi-sectoral movement in El Salvador campaigning to keep the country's gold and other mineral resources in the ground amidst the relentless push by mining corporations to extract and profit from these resources.
We are in solidarity with the Salvadoran movements in their continuing struggle against mining.
We are committed to advancing the same struggle in the Philippines as part of our broader fight to dismantle corporate power and end impunity!
Contact: Jaybee Garganera (nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net), Judy Pasimio (judy[at]lilak.net), and Joseph Purugganan (josephp[at]focusweb.org)
Investigating mining pollution and plunder in Nueva Vizcaya
By Karl Begnotea
5 October 2014
The abundant natural resources and biologically diverse ecosystems of the province of Nueva Vizcaya, known as the Watershed Haven of Cagayan Valley, are greatly imperiled by foreign large-scale mining and militarization.
I witnessed this environmental disaster slowly unfolding as part of an Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) last April 2014, along with fellow scientists from the Advocates of Science & Technology for the People (AGHAM), and local environmental advocates from the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK).
There are two transnational corporations operating mines in two different municipalities of Nueva Vizcaya: the extraction phase of Australian-owned Oceana Gold in Kasibu, and the construction phase of UK-owned FCF minerals in Quezon municipality.
With the people's organizations under ANNVIK serving as our guides, we located testing sites in the rivers within and near the mine impact sites of OceanaGold and FCF Minerals. We analyzed the biological, chemical and physical characteristics of these ecosystems, and took water and sediment samples for laboratory testing.
Worsening environmental risks
Murky-brown water flowed from Dinaoyan River, into which OceanaGold's mine tailings facility's water spill-off coursed through, and the sediments from its riverbed was muddy, sticky and of a greenish-grey color. This was drastically different from the pristinely clear water and brown sand and pebbles of the still-unaffected Surong Creek, which served as our study's control variable.
The laboratory testing of water and sediments we took from the areas reinforced these observations. The contamination of high concentrations of Copper, a heavy metal with potential harmful effects, was observed in Dinaoyan River and in its confluence with Surong Creek.
Copper concentrations in the water and sediments in the impacted areas greatly exceeded the metal's safe levels, which could result in the death of aquatic organisms, and stunt the growth and productivity of agricultural lands that get irrigated or flooded by the affected rivers' waters.
Even with just the construction activities of FCF Minerals, its directly impacted rivers are already brimming with unsafe levels of Arsenic, Lead, and especially Copper. These heavy metals, which can also severely damage our body's circulatory, excretory, digestive, and nervous systems, can also be accumulated over time in the various flora and fauna in the ecosystems.
Imagine these toxic chemicals building up in the vegetables, fruits, fisheries and other agricultural products grown by Nueva Vizcaya's farmers and fisher folks, which will eventually end up in our farm markets. Imagine the children of Didipio and Runruno, unwittingly frolicking in these hazardous waters.
Repressed community rights
The stories of the local indigenous and peasant population had an alarming common thread: that their lives only worsened since the mining companies occupied their lands. Several instances of violence, harassment, deception and other human rights violations both by the Oceana Gold and FCF minerals were documented.
A resident in Didipio shared that OceanaGold used violence and intimidation to force them to sell their land. The mining TNC employed private security and even tapped the military to assert and protect their assets. Restricted passage imposed in the areas within the mining project also continues to affect the farmers, small-scale miners, and fisherfolk's economic activities.
In Runruno, the locals lamented that FCF Minerals security and local police forcibly demolished their houses without prior notice by armed and uniformed men. A measly amount of P11,500.00 were offered as compensation to their destroyed homes and livelihoods.
These are just a few narratives of how the local peasant and indigenous communities were subjected to land-grabbing, rights violation, and various other forms of repression.
Continuing people's struggles
The Nueva Vizcaya EIM concretized the long-standing fears of residents and advocates that the promise of development and safety by OceanaGold and FCF Minerals would remain on paper, and that the grave risks to land, livelihood and the environment would remain unaddressed.
That these large-scale miners were supposedly compliant of environmental and social regulations required by the national government is just the latest strong indictment on the Philippines' policy regime. Where are the environmental management systems and the legitimate free and prior informed consent and social acceptance of communities?
We will bring back this study to the remote communities of Nueva Vizcaya. More than a concretization and indictment of the adverse impacts of large-scale mining and mining policies, it is also a validation of the continuing people's struggles against large-scale mines and other instances of ‘development aggression' that despoil our natural resources and environment, and rob our future generations of a sustainable future. (http://bulatlat.com)
Karl-Profile-PicKarl Begnotea is a biologist who serves as an organizer and field researcher of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment. He was part of the Nueva Vizcaya EIM co-organized with AGHAM and ANNVIK.
The NV-EIM was supported by the Ecosystem Alliance, a broad network of international and local NGOs led by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature-Netherlands, Both ENDS, and Wetlands International.
Australia's Indophil Resources gets offer, Glencore approves
22 September 2014
Indophil Resources NL said on Tuesday Philippine-based conglomerate Alsons Group has offered to fully acquire the Australian company for $0.30 a share in an all-cash deal.
The offer represents a 43 percent premium to Monday's close.
Indophil owns 37.5 percent of Sagittarius Mines Inc, the operator for the Tampakan project in the southern Philippines province of South Cotabato. Tampakan is believed to be one of the biggest undeveloped copper and gold mines in Southeast Asia.
Mining giant Glencore, which holds 13.1 percent stake in Indophil, intends to approve the acquisition. (Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Paul Tait)
Indophil receives takeover offer from Philippine shareholder
23 September 2014
PERTH (miningweekly.com) - ASX-listed Indophil Resources, which is developing the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper and gold project in the Philippines, has received a takeover offer from its largest shareholder, Alons Prime Investments Corporation (APIC).
The Philippines shareholder, which currently has a 19.99% stake in Indophil, is offering shareholders 30c in cash a share, valuing the company at around A$361-million.
Indophil's independent directors have unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the offer, stating that the offer price was a 43% premium to the company's last closing price, and a 38% premium to the one-month volume weighted average price of Indophil shares, as well as a 52% premium on the three-month volume weighted average price.
"The proposal from APIC offers Indophil shareholders a significant premium and value certainty. A transaction with APIC enables Indophil shareholders to realise their investment in Indophil and avoid exposure to the development risks which would need to be overcome in order to bring the Tampakan project into production," said Indophil chairperson Brian Phillips.
In August last year, Indophil announced a reboot of the Tampakan project, with the aim of securing government support on key bottleneck issues before proceeding to final valuation and possible development.
The revised work plan followed a project review, which investigated the issues and challenges facing the project, including the resolution of the South Cotabato openpit mining ban, the definition of the pathways to project approvals from all levels of government and the gaining of consent to resettle impacted communities.
At the start of the year, project partner Glencore said that it was considering divesting its majority interest in the Tampakan project, to conform to the Chinese government's conditions for the merger between Glencore and Xstrata.
Glencore, which owns a 13% interest in Indophil, on Tuesday said that it intended to accept APIC's offer for its shareholding in Indophil.
The APIC offer was subject to limited conditions, including Indophil shareholder approval, Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval, and the recommendation of an independent expert.
Inhibition of Sereno in mining case sought
By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
3 October 2014
MANILA, Philippines-A Filipino-owned mining company has sought the inhibition of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno from participating in a case pending before the Supreme Court seeking the reversal of a Court of Appeals decision that stopped three mining firms from operating in the country for allegedly violating the constitutional provision limiting foreign ownership in mining companies to 40 percent.
Redmont Consolidated Mines Corp. said in a motion that Sereno's inhibition from the case was warranted because of her husband's involvement with DMCI Mining Corp., which has "a substantial financial interest in the legal proceedings."
It said that Sereno's husband, Mario Jose, is the corporate planning officer of DMCI.
Redmont said it was filing the motion to inhibit to avoid putting Sereno in a position where she may be induced to act with bias and prejudice in favor of DMCI since her husband was connected with the firm.
Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, states that no judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity without the written consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.
The judge, in the exercise of his or her sound discretion, may also disqualify himself or herself from sitting in a case, for other just or valid reasons, the rules state.
According to Redmont, DMCI was a transferee of the interests in three mining firms-Narra Nickel Mining and Development Corp., Tesoro Mining and Development Inc., and McArthur Mining, Inc.-of MBMI Resources, a Canadian company.
The three mining companies are the petitioners in the case which was originally assigned to the Supreme Court's Second Division but was transferred to the First Division which Sereno chairs.
Reversal of ruling
They are seeking the reversal of the appellate court ruling that declared them to be foreign corporations, thus barring them from conducting mining activities in the Philippines.
Last April, the three mining firms argued before the high court that the issue of their nationality had become moot after MBMI transferred and conveyed all of its shareholdings/interests in the holding companies to DMCI.
They told the high court that the holding companies' other shareholder (holding 66 or 67 percent) was Lanvin Natural Resources Corp., which is also a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws and is at least 60 percent Philippine-owned.
Thus, with DMCI's acquisition and purchase of MBMI's shareholdings in the holding companies, the latter thus became 100 percent owned by Philippine nationals.
Redmont said it was able to confirm the transfer of MBMI's shares in the three mining firms to DMCI and the latter's interest in the legal proceedings through the MBMI website.
"Respondent cannot just sit idly by doing nothing after discovering the significance of the repeated manifestations of petitioners that DMCI allegedly infused millions of dollars to fund this case and that it will lose everything if petitioners do not succeed in the ongoing legal proceedings," Redmont said in its motion.
It said it was constrained to file the motion to inhibit Sereno "considering the strong relations of her husband (Mario Jose Sereno) with DMCI who happens to be the financier of the foregoing legal proceedings and where he worked as its supposed corporate planning officer".
According to Redmont, DMCI had allegedly provided $1.8 million to fund the cost of MBMI's pursuing the legal proceedings.
It alleged that MBMI had even revealed that if it fails to secure a favorable ruling, its transaction with DMCI would be rescinded and the shares sold to it would be returned free of any or all encumbrances.
"At all costs, therefore, it is safe to presume that DMCI will ensure the success of all the cases involving petitioners," Redmont said in its motion.
It said Sereno should inhibit herself from participating in resolving the petition of the three mining companies "to erase all doubts of bias and influence in the resolution of this case."
The petition before the high court stemmed from a case filed by Redmont before the panel of arbitrators of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources against the three mining firms. Redmont claimed that the three firms were owned and controlled by MBMI, and were thus disqualified from engaging in mining activities through mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) which are reserved only to Filipino citizens.
Redmont had taken an interest in mining and exploring certain areas of Palawan but discovered that the areas had pending applications for MPSAs in the names of Narra, Tesoro and McArthur.
The applications for MPSA assigned to the three mining companies in 2006 or earlier involved more than 12,100 hectares in Palawan.