MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines - Remembering the victims of extra-judicial killings and typhoon Haiyan

Published by MAC on 2014-11-18
Source: ABS-CBN, (2014-11-18)

Glencore's controversial Tampakan mine is in the news again, although this time because of a visit by campaigners to the UK, where they linked up with British solidarity groups. That tour joined those in the Philippines which remembered slain environmental defenders, particularly Juvy Capion and family, whose anniversaries occur around this time.

Even as previous victims were being honoured, Henry Alameda - a Manobo activist in Surigao del Sur linked to anti-mining protests - was murdered by armed men, believed to be linked to the Philippine military.

In other news, the way has been cleared for legal action against the Governor of Pangasinan, and several others, for allegedly engaging in illegal black sand mining trade in the Lingayen Gulf area.

Cordillera indigenous peoples have called for the abolition of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), claiming that “instead of protecting the indigenous peoples, the NCIP served as a bridge for the entry of destructive projects.”

Local residents in Santa Cruz in Zambales have been ruing the damage done to their village and livelihoods by uncontrolled mining, even if projects have now been suspended, while pressure is being exerted from laid-off workers to re-start the mines.

Despite these problems and more (and the continued wrangling over proposed tax changes), the Philippine Government has relaxed its rules on mining operations throughout the country, allowing firms with existing contracts to expand their areas “subject to certain conditions.”

This has led, among other things, to the reported approval of the expansion of Marcventures Holdings Inc. nickel mine in Surigao del Sur. Marcventures were earlier this year ordered to shut its operations for operating outside of its lease (see: Philippines: Earth Day protests focus on mining).

Finally, as many remember the destruction wrought on the central Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, many nickel producers in the Philippines' main nickel mining region of Caraga are expected to close operations from October or November until early next year in anticipation of heavy rains.

Mindanao local seeks Brits' help to fight mining giant

By Patrick Camara Ropeta

ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

(Video report at - http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/regions/11/13/14/glencore-xstrata-defends-militarization-tampakan)

13 November 2014

LONDON - Mark Lopez has come a long way to save his community from one of the largest multinational companies in the world, which he claims is ruining Filipino lives in pursuit of gold.

Lopez gave a series of talks in England about the plight of local communities affected by the Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato, set to become the largest open-pit mine in the Philippines.

Anglo-Swiss corporation Glencore-Xstrata has a controlling stake in the project, operated locally by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), which has been accused of funding local military operations linked to alleged human rights violations against local opposition.

“Tampakan is highly militarized. We are harassed by the military after we have community forums and focus group discussions,” said Lopez.

According to British campaign group War On Want, 10 indigenous people have been allegedly murdered in connection to the Tampakan mining project since 2010, including the Capion massacre in 2012 - which was dismissed in court for insufficient evidence against the accused military - and the shooting of clan chief Anteng Freay and his son in 2013.

“Filipinos in the area are scared because of the military paid by Glencore. This is a culture of impunity, where we know the people responsible and yet the Philippine government is doing nothing,” said Lopez.

It is for this reason that the Mindanao-native has taken their battle to London, the financial hub of the international mining industry including, Glencore-Xstrata.

Lopez and other activists, including the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) and Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), are calling for an investigation over the Tampakan project, with particular emphasis on its human and environmental costs.

They are urging the international community to learn about the issues, and to put pressure not only on Glencore, but also on the national governments of Britain and the Philippines.

“This is a part that these companies are repeating all around the world. And it’s vital that we as British people understand how we are involved in that,” said Patrick Kane from War On Want, which made a video called “Stop Glencore’s Deadly Mine” as part of a wider campaign.

He explained: “Here in London we have some of the largest mining corporations in the world. Many of them raise money via the London Stock Exchange, so it is very important that people are aware of just what a role London is playing in the human rights violations which these companies are committing against communities all around the world.”

“Complex history of regional conflict”

Glencore-Xstrata denies any wrongdoing in the Tampakan mining project.

In an official statement given to ABS-CBN Europe, the company said “Glencore and its subsidiaries do not condone violence in any form.”

It also highlighted the “long and complex history of regional conflict” in Mindanao which existed before the mining project, including threats from guerrilla group New People’s Army (NPA).

However, the company admitted it contributed funds towards a local military operation called Community-based Peace and Security Program (CPSP), but only at the request of the local government in response to rebel attacks in 2008.

“As a major investor in the area, SMI was requested by the local government to provide support for certain activities related to the CPSP. The local government applied SMI funds toward food allowances, as well as fuel and first aid supplies, for those units to provide public security in the local government areas in which the project is located,” the statement said.

Glencore added that as of 2013, the company has “ceased funding” of CPSP when “provincial government units assumed full responsibility over the management of peace, order and security in the area.”

Furthermore, the company insisted it has plans in place to ensure the welfare of the local community and environment, from consultations throughout the development process, to infrastructure projects and relocation programs.

Amid fierce opposition from several groups in Britain and the Philippines, Glencore also claims to have enough support from 131 stakeholder groups, including 11 local councils and chieftains, 34 barangays, 22 business groups and seven regional government bodies.

Benefits and costs

According to the Centre for International Economics in 2011, the project has the potential to bring “substantial long-term contribution to the Philippine economy.”

As a result, however, it is likely to have adverse effects on the local environment including rainforests and rivers. The area is also home to 1,500 households with 5,000 indigenous people, who will all be displaced from the land of their ancestors.

For this reason, there is currently a ban against open-pit mining in the area set by the local government to protect its people and natural resources.

“The provincial government enacted a law banning open-pit mining because this technology is very destructive. It really drains mountains and forests and pollutes our water resources,” said Clemente Bautista from Kalikasan People’s Network, who travelled with Lopez to speak out against the Tampakan project.

He added: “Our government’s mining policy has been around for a long time. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 allows foreign companies to enter the country and own local minerals, but all it’s given us is the destruction of communities and the killings of activists. Even government data show that contribution of mining is not that significant to our economy.”

The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 was implemented in 1997 to stimulate the local mining industry and develop the country’s rich deposit of gold, copper and nickel.

According to the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau, local mineral resources are worth 850 billion US dollars, and are primarily exported to Japan, Australia, Canada and China.

But a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that mining contribution to the economy has been “nothing spectacular” despite a boost from the mining act.

From 1998 to 2010, mining had the lowest overall contribution to the total economy, only averaging at 0.9 percent of the total GDP, in comparison to sectors like manufacturing, the largest contributor with 23.5 percent, followed by trade with 16.2 percent.

However, the report also points out that the only substantial economic benefit of mining comes from gold - more than half of the Tampakan project - which is a “major source of the country’s much-needed foreign exchange earnings from metallic exports.”

In recent years, the Philippine government has been trying to improve the mining sector with the aim of reaping more benefits from the country’s mineral resources.

In 2012, President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 79 which updated its taxation policies in the mining sector. It also cut down the duration of mining contracts from 50 years to 25.

A senate policy briefing said the order seeks to “strengthen the protection of the environment, promote responsible mining, and provide a more equitable revenue-sharing scheme amid the projected boom in the sector.”

From 2014, under new laws, the government stands to take at least 50 percent of the industry’s net revenue, up from a meagre two percent as originally set in 1995.

As the debate continues, justice remains elusive for slain victims in Tampakan, in which Glencore-Xstrata allegedly played a part according to Lopez and other activists.

“It is the corporate responsibility of Glencore to look at all these issues. They must be held accountable for these things that are happening in Tampakan,” Lopez insisted.

The Tampakan mining project covers 10,000 hectares of land containing 15 million tons of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold, situated on the boundaries of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao del Sur.

And despite a local ban on large-scale open-pit mining, the USD5.9-billion project is expected to go ahead on the basis of its economic benefits, reportedly worth an estimated one percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per year of operations.

But some are asking: at what cost?


On the death anniversary of Fr. Pops Tentorio

Kalikasan PNE press release

16 October 2014

Cases of environmentalists languishing in DOJ amidst ‘zero track record’ of Sec. De Lima in dispensing justice

Environmental activists under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined various groups in a picket at the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, demanding Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to “set her priorities straight by actually working on important cases involving our environmental martyrs.”

“Sec. De Lima should stop with her bickering with big-name politicians and other media grandstanding tactics as if to cover up the fact that her track record in successful prosecutions are virtually zero. The DOJ under De Lima saw the case of Palawan activist Dr. Gerry Ortega drag on forever, the case on the Capion Massacre dismissed, and various other cases involving environmentalists simply rotting away,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The group, together with the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED), a support network for environmental defenders afflicted by human rights violations (HRVs), challenged De Lima to take positive action on the following highlight cases:

“None of the perpetrators in these cases were ever jailed or prosecuted, save for the Ortega case where the masterminds, the Reyes brothers, are still in hiding. Two to three years after the perpetration of these heinous crimes, De Lima and the DOJ has continued to perpetrate various injustices to our fallen comrades in the environmental movement. No wonder President Noynoy Aquino was hounded by protesters decrying his administration’s dismal human rights track record anywhere he junketed these past few months,” noted Bautista.

“Two out of these five highlight cases involve Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore-Xstrata-SMI, which is trying its hardest to railroad Asia’s biggest mining project through massive opposition by communities on the ground through militarization. We are soon bringing our campaign for justice to the people of SOCSKARGEN region afflicted by the militarization of Glencore-Xstrata-SMI to London to expose the culture of impunity perpetrated by the Aquino government in mining-affected communities in the Philippines,” ended Bautista.

The group, together with United Kingdom-based support groups War on Want and UNISON, earlier launched this year an online petition to stop the Glencore-Xstrata-SMI mining project and to hold them accountable for all its adverse social impacts including HRVs, hosted at http://www.waronwant.org/stopthemine.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 0922 844 9787


Extra-Judicial Killing of MAPASU Council member HENRY ALAMEDA

Case: Extra-Judicial Killing

Victim/s: HENRY ALAMEDA, 44 years old, Manobo, resident of Cabalawan, San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, married, active council member of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).

Place of Incident: Sitio Cabalawan, San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur

Date of Incident: October 24, 2014 at 7am

Alleged Perpetrator(s): Operating troops of the 2nd Scout Ranger Batallion, based in St. Christine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur under LTC. Jesus Durante; Operating troops of the 36th IB PA; 3rd Special Forces Battalion, under the 401st Brigade, Philippine Army; CAFGU; Members of the paramilitary group of Calpit Egua.

Account of the Incident:

On the early morning of October 24, 2014 an undetermined number of troops belonging to the 2nd Scout Ranger Batallion, PA were on foot patrol in Upper Oregon, Logdeck, San Isidro, Lianga. About 17 of those troops including members of Datu Calpit Egua’s paramilitary group went to the neighboring Sitio Cabalawan, San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

At around 7 o’clock in the morning, HENRY ALAMEDA had just finished eating breakfast when three armed men carrying M14 and M16 rifles suddenly went up and inside their house in Sitio Cabalawan, Brgy. San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The armed men forcibly dragged Henry outside towards the forested area. Upon passing by the waiting shed near the house Henry, refusing to go with the armed men held on to one of the posts. One of the armed men then shot Henry twice hitting him on the chest while another one shot him on the head. The killing was witnessed by Henry’s wife and their children. The armed men left going towards the forested area after shooting Henry.

In the afternoon of the same day military troops and CAFGU members were seen in Sitio Cabalawan.

Operating troops of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion, 36th IB PA and the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, under the 401st Brigade of the Philippine Army has been launching military operations in the mountain areas of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte. Accompanying the military troops are members of the CAFGU and paramilitary group of Calpit Egua.

Karapatan-Caraga believes that the extra-judicial killing of Henry Alameda, active council member of MAPASU, a lumad organization strongly protesting against mining operations and land conversion/plantations, is part of the AFP’s anti-insurgency campaign Oplan Bayanihan to ensure the entry and operations of large scale mining and plantations in Caraga.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1. The immediate cessation of military operations.
2. Immediate investigation of the incident
3. Immediate arrest of perpetrators.
4. The Philippine Government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major human rights instruments that it is a party and signatory to.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

--

PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org

Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.


Cordillera folk call for NCIP abolition

By Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol

Northern Despatch

28 October 2014

“Instead of protecting the indigenous peoples, the NCIP served as a bridge for the entry of destructive projects.”

BAGUIO CITY — Cordillera indigenous peoples called for the abolition of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) saying that the agency betrayed their interests.

In a protest action in front of the NCIP regional office, Oct. 20, tribe leaders from the six provinces of the region accused NCIP officials of selling out their ancestral land to large mining and energy corporations through the manipulation of the free prior and informed consent (FPIC).

Under the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (Ipra) of 1998 requires the FPIC before approving projects affecting indigenous peoples land and resources.

The Cordillera indigenous peoples said that the energy and mining projects are detrimental to the environs of their ancestral territories.

Windel Bolinget, chairman of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) said, “It is our culture to protect our land for our children and children’s children because we believe that land is life. A true Igorot (the Cordillera IPs) will not sell his birthright and will not hesitate to defend his ancestral homeland in whatever form he can from destructive corporate greed.”

‘Betrayal’

Nestor Peralta, spokesman of the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) said NCIP officials are not listening to the opposition of Tinoc communities to the hydro power plant project of the Quadriver Corporation. Instead, Peralta said the NCIP officials and local government officials of Tinoc are forcing the people to sign the memorandum of agreement (MOA).

At least six hydropower projects have been awarded by the Department of Energy to Sta. Clara, Quadriver and Philnew Hyrdo Corporation in Ifugao.

In 2008, Quadriver, Sta Clara, NCIP and the Tinoc local government started to conduct activities and visits to the host barangays. In November 2012, the MOA for Eheb village was signed while Tukucan MOA was signed in July 2013.

In August 2014, the indigenous people of Tukucan and Eheb withdrew their signatures to the MOA and all other agreements in support to the Quadriver hydro project through a letter of retraction submitted to the NCIP.

“Amid the people’s protests, NCIP officials are still pushing for the continuation of the project. They (NCIP officials) are fellow IPs but instead of protecting out interests they are selling us to destructive corporations,” Peralta said.

In Benguet, the people of Kapangan shared a similar experience. They have been filing petitions before the NCIP national office questioning the issuance of a certificate precondition to the Cordillera Hydroelectric Corporation (Coheco) for a 50-megawatt hydro power project in their town.

David Aggulin, an elder from Kalinga, said that during the FPIC process, NCIP officials only talk about the good effects of energy and mining projects but did not present the negative effects on the environment.

“Instead of protecting the IPs, the NCIP served as a bridge for the entry of these destructive projects,” Aggulin said.

An elder from Conner, Apayao said the NCIP failed to protect their forests from corporate logging and rivers from black sand mining despite the people’s opposition to these projects. He said that these projects took over agricultural land and adversely affected the sources of irrigation of Apayao folks.

Esteban Ferraren, secretary general of Timpuyog ti Umili ti Lacub Bantayan Ekolohiya ken Kinabaknang (Tulbek), also accused the NCIP of railroading the FPIC process in favor of the Golden Lake Mining Company. He said that the local folk have filed a petition to the NCIP against the entry of the mining corporation in Lacub, Abra but the agency just dismissed their petition.

Ferraren added that the people opposing the entry of Golden Lake are even subjected to threat, harassment and intimidation by soldiers of the 41st Infantry Battalion.

In Mountain Province, Sabangan folk affected by the 14-megawatt hydro power project of Hedcor-Sabangan along the Chico River in Barangay Napua and Namatec of Sabangan town also claimed that there were violations to the FPIC process for the said project. Barangay Gayang also of Sabangan and the Napua Sabangan United Tour Guides Association have filed petitions to the NCIP calling for a stop to the project but the construction of the power plant is about to be concluded in the first quarter of next year.

Representatives of indigenous peoples from Betwagan, Sadanga also filed a petition against another proposed hydro power project of Hedcor along the Chico River that falls within their territory.

Nora Chulipa, acting regional director of NCIP Cordillera, said she cannot comment on the issues being raised by the protesters as she has just assumed office.

CPA’s Bolinget also assailed the NCIP for not lifting a finger against the continuing extrajudicial killing of indigenous peoples in the country. He said that justice has not yet been served for the killings of Cordillera leaders that include Marcus Bangit, Albert Teredano, and William Bugatti. (www.nordis.net)


Suspended mine leaves deep scars in Philippine village

Tim Kroenert

UCANews

7 October 2014

Santa Cruz, Philippines - "You know you've reached Santa Cruz when you hit the potholes," says Josephine Astadan.

She isn't joking. The degradation of the road is evident the moment one crosses into Santa Cruz, a tiny village in the far northwest corner of the northern Philippines province of Zambales.

The village's mining operations have been still for three months, but the potholes, says Astadan, are but one of the visible scars that remain.

Lifelong local Astadan is the general secretary of the Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz. The coalition's main mission since its formation in early 2012 has been to give big mining the boot.

Four mining companies operated in the area from 2006. The companies extracted nickel ore from the mountains that shade the village, barreled it down to the village in heavy trucks (cue potholes), and deposited it at one of three purpose-built ports for export to China.

Earlier this year, operations at the mines were suspended after the national Environmental Management Bureau demanded they comply with environmental standards.

But according to the coalition, it's too little, too late. "Just look at this," says Astadan, indicating the Pamalabawan River, whose sickly brown waters pass through the town and into the sea.

"This used to be beautiful," Astadan says. "We used to swim here. People would wash their clothes. Now look at it."

Santa Cruz's vibrant river systems feed the region's major industries, including rice farming, fish farming, and small-scale commercial fishing. Now they have become clogged with nickel-tainted silt displaced by the mining operations.

This has turned irrigation waterways to slovenly mud, exacerbated crop-destroying floods, and poisoned the once fertile seawater for hundreds of meters from shore. The beach itself is thick with trash, a testament to the lax attitude toward waste disposal in the area.

Fisherman Romy Marave has lived on that shore his whole life. He went on his first fishing trip when he was just 10, and set out solo for the first time when he was 18. He's now 37, married and has a young daughter. On the day ucanews.com visits, he’s landed a smallish 20-kg catch.

Since big mining came to town eight years ago, Marave says he now travels 37 kilometers to net anything like a substantial haul. Previously, he traveled about 15 kilometers. The extra outlay for fuel cuts significantly into his profits.

Of course, fishing is unpredictable at the best of times. "But we could always receive a continuous income by catching small fish close to shore and selling them to the fish farms," Marave said. "Now they are gone."

Upriver, the rice and fish farmers are faring little better. The proprietor of one fish farm wades into the middle of an irrigation inlet to indicate where the water level once was. The eight-meter wide waterway ought to be thigh deep, yet he stands up to his knees in sludge.

Rice farmer Marciano Bucat explains how the siltation of the rivers resulted in shoulder-deep floods last rainy season that devastated his crops. "Usually, the crop would bring in 400,000 pesos (US$8,950)," an impassioned Bucat explains. "This year: zero."

Not everyone is angry, though. Nearby, a tractor is dredging silt from the river as part of one mining company's compliance obligations. The operation is overseen by one Ernesto Bucat — a rice farmer who, since April this year, has been working for one of the mines.

Bucat is president of Santa Cruz's Irrigation Association, and is thereby perhaps uniquely skilled for this dredging operation. However, his reasons for "defecting" to the mining company are purely pragmatic. "I need to support my family," says the 41-year-old father of five.

Bucat earns about 10,000 pesos ($225) per month working for the mine, which already is almost half of what he’d previously earned per year through farming alone.

"People's anger toward the miners has calmed down," he insists. "In fact, some farmers are pleased that their farms have been widened as part of the dredging process."

"They would be in a minority," says rice farmer Marciano when this claim is put to him later that day.

Marciano, 60 — a first cousin of Ernesto — and his wife, Josie, 61, have been married for 35 years. They farm the same land that Marciano's father did before him, and it has recently been dredged of silt as part of one mining company's compliance obligations.

"This year is the first time we have tried to grow rice on the reclaimed land," says Marciano.

The results have been far from satisfactory. "It does not compare to how productive it was before," he says. He has doubled the amount of fertilizer used, and still the yield is feeble.

In the process of dredging the land the company also felled a plantation of bamboo — another saleable commodity as well as a construction material — along with five 50-year-old mango trees, whose annual yield Marciano estimates at being worth about 100,000 pesos ($2,250).

He says the mining companies' "have not done enough" to help the farmers restore what once was.

A troubling subplot to all of this is the position of the local Catholic Church. An impressive new church belltower was paid for by a mining company, and last month the Church was fundraising for mining employees who had lost work due to the suspension of operations.

Astadan, a Catholic, is perplexed by what she perceives as an allegiance to mining interests, and left the Church because of it.

But Fr Emmanuel Jose S Montes points out that there are two sides to every story.

"You have to look into where different groups are coming from," Fr Montes says. "What is their agenda? They do not necessarily speak for the whole community."

"Pope Francis always takes the side of the poor people," he adds. "But who are the poor people in our community? The original people who are from here, who have lived here their whole lives, are not poor. A farmer who has land is not poor. He has many resources."

On the other hand, Fr Montes says he cannot simply lay blame for the fate of laid-off miners at the feet of groups such as the coalition, as many miners have. "I try to see both sides," he says.

"For those who lost their jobs … is this a loss, or is it an opportunity to try to find something else more legitimate, less destructive?"

The mines may be quiet for the moment, but as far as Astaban is concerned, the fight is far from over. "This [anti-mining activism] is now my belief," she says. "It is how I show my faith."


Ombudsman OKs case vs Pangasinan gov over black sand mining

By Tetch Torres-Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

21 October 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Tuesday ordered the filing of criminal case against Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino and several others for engaging in illegal black sand mining trade in the Lingayen Gulf area.

Aside from Espino, also facing two counts of violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act are Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, Cynthia Camara and Lolita Bolayog of Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc. (Alexandra Mining).

Facing one count of violation of R.A. No. 3019 are Pangasinan Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Officer Alvin Bigay, Alexandra Mining Directors Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Denise Ann Sia Kho Po, Annlyn Detera, Glenn Subia and Emiliano Buenavista and Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazar and Avery Pujol of Xypher Builders, Inc.

In addition to the criminal indictments, Baraan and Bigay were found administratively liable for Grave Misconduct and meted out the penalty of dismissal from the service, with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service.

Meanwhile, the complaints against Lingayen Mayor Ernesto Castañeda, Jr., Sabangan Barangay (village) Chairman Hector Fabiana, Estanza Barangay Chairman Mario Navarro, Malimpuec Barangay Chairman Delfin Velasco and Provincial Consultant Eric Acuña were dismissed for lack of merit.

Residents in the area sought an investigation following continuous mining activities even if the affected villages of Sabangan, Estanza, Malimpuec and Capandanan have been declared an environmentally critical area under Presidential Proclamation No. 1258.

Then, the investigating team of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Region I issued a report on Oct. 18, 2011 recommending that the SSMP in favor of Alexandra Mining be canceled as it was issued without an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC); that Alexandra Mining be penalized for putting up a mineral processing plant sans ECC; and that a Cease and Desist Order be issued enjoining the mining firm from further extracting beach sand pending the resolution of the issue.

But almost a week later, the provincial government issued Gratuitous Permit No. 02-02-2011 authorizing Xypher Buildings and the Provincial Housing and Development Coordinating Office to extract and utilize loose and unconsolidated materials, and recover magnetite sand in Sabangan. On 08 December 2011, Espino issued a Mineral Ore Export Permit in favor of Xypher.

Also, the Ombudsman said both Alexandra Mining and Xypher Builders are not registered contractors with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board, and the ECC was belatedly issued in favor of Baraan for the Lingayen Golf Course Project only on 02 January 2013. Coincidentally, Alexandra Mining is not registered as a legitimate business establishment in Lingayen.

“There is probable cause to charge respondents Epino and Baraan for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 for authorizing unlawful magnetite extraction activities in favor of an unqualified contractor/mining company,” adding that “by reason of the precipitate and irregular issuance by respondent Espino of the export permit to China, the State lost minerals in the conservative amount of P10.7 million,” the Ombudsman said.


Monsoon to curb Philippines nickel mining

Reuters

14 October 2014

MANILA - Seasonal rains are set to disrupt nickel mining in the Philippines for the next four months or so, crimping exports to top buyer China and stoking a shortfall in the global supply of ore.

Miners in the Philippines say they will be able to fulfil their 2014 contracts as they have factored in the impact of the annual monsoon.

But, with a ban on raw metal shipments by former top exporter Indonesia, the seasonal decline in the Philippines' output could force China's vast stainless steel industry to run down its stocks of nickel ore, reigniting a rally in nickel prices.

Most producers in the Philippines' main nickel mining region of Caraga are expected to close operations as normal from October or November until early next year in anticipation of heavy rains.

The Philippines has emerged as the top supplier to China's producers of nickel pig iron, a key ingredient in stainless steel.

"They (China NPI makers) are definitely going to be caught short," said Daniel Hynes, analyst at ANZ in Sydney.

"Obviously they'll just have to dig into their inventory to meet demand in the shorter term or look at importing some ferronickel from various sources."

Nickel laterite ore is found mostly in Indonesia, the Philippines and New Caledonia, and has been increasingly manufactured into NPI by stainless steel mills as a cut price alternative to refined nickel.

Those firms have blended lower grade ore from the Philippines with their remaining Indonesian stocks to stretch them out, although analysts say stockpiles may be depleted early next year.

Expectations that China's stainless steel mills would run out of ore after Indonesia's ban helped benchmark nickel prices surge more than 50 percent by May. They have since cut gains to around 20 percent for the year, standing at around $16,550 a tonne.

"The Philippines has been exporting record volumes of nickel ore," said Ivan Szpakowski, a Hong Kong-based commodities strategist for Citi.

"Now you're entering the monsoon season, exports should be falling off dramatically in the following weeks. Nickel pig iron producers will be running through these inventories."

China's imports of nickel ore from the Philippines jumped 26 percent from January to August.

"If producers decide to hoard the inventories, you could see nickel prices spike before the end of the year," Szpakowski added.

Citi expects nickel to outperform prices for other metals, hitting $26,000 a tonne in 12 months.
Heavy Rain

Mines in the Philippines' southern Caraga region are bracing for heavy rains in the next four months, the country's Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said, including three operated by top producer and exporter Nickel Asia Corp.

MGB data shows there are at least a dozen nickel mines in Caraga, and 10 of them had no output in the first quarter of this year. The country has a total of 27 nickel mines.

Miners stressed that they had factored in the rainy season when setting production targets earlier in the year.

"Our mines in Surigao (in Caraga) adjust their schedules for the rainy season and make sure they've met their targets before the rains ... require them to go into maintenance mode," said Nickel Asia Spokesman Jose Bayani Baylon.

Nickel Asia expects to ship 17 million wet metric tonnes (WMT) this year, up 21 percent from last year. The company on Monday said its four operating mines sold a total of 14.26 million WMT in January to September, up 38 percent from a year earlier.

Unlisted Carrascal Nickel Corp, another Philippine ore supplier, confirmed it would halt production from this month and resume operations by March next year. (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz in Manila and Melanie Burton in Sydney; Editing by Joseph Radford)


Philippines clears way for Marcventures' expanded nickel mining

Reuters

17 October 2014

MANILA - Marcventures Holdings Inc , one of the Philippines' biggest nickel miners, has won government approval to expand its mining operations, helping it to ramp up ore exports to top buyer China, the company said on Friday.

The decision by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) will allow Marcventures to extract ore from a 4 799-hectare area in Surigao del Sur province in Mindanao, moving beyond its current 300-hectare site, the company said in a statement to Manila's stock exchange.

Marcventures shares rose as much as 5.5% following the announcement, and are up 134% so far this year.

The Philippines, which has 27 nickel mines, has emerged this year as the top supplier of ores to China's producers of nickel pig iron (NPI), a key ingredient in stainless steel, amid a ban on ore shipments by former top exporter Indonesia.

Marcventures' expanded contract area is estimated to hold about 57-million wet metric tonnes (WMT) of nickel ore reserves, enough to last until 2019, but this should rise with further exploration, Maybank ATR KimEng said in a research report this month.

The company is looking to increase exports to China this year to three-million WMT, the report said. Shipments last year reached 2.8-million WMT, more than four times the 620,000 WMT volume in 2011 when mine operations began, the report said.

The decision comes as seasonal rains are set to disrupt nickel mining in the Philippines' southern Caraga region, where more than half of the country's mines are located including Marventures' contract area.

Nickel laterite ore, which is found mostly in Indonesia, the Philippines and New Caledonia, has been increasingly manufactured into NPI by stainless steel mills as a cut price alternative to refined nickel.


Philippines' Philex says study confirms viability of $1.5 bln Silangan mine

Reuters

29 October 2014

MANILA - Philippine gold and copper producer Philex Mining Corp said on Wednesday an initial study had confirmed the viability of its $1.5 billion Silangan project, a significant step towards putting the mine into production by 2018.

The Silangan mine in Surigao del Norte province in southern Philippines represents Philex's biggest prospective revenue driver when its Padcal mine in the north closes, possibly by 2020.

Silangan has estimated reserves of 5 billion pounds of copper and 9 million ounces of gold in its 25-year mine life, among the biggest in a country that sits on mineral wealth worth $1.4 trillion based on the latest industry estimate.

"The Silangan project ... is proceeding as planned after the pre-feasibility study confirmed the project's feasibility," Philex told Manila's stock exchange.

Shares in Philex rose 0.7 percent on Wednesday and are up 15 percent so far this year.

Unlike other big mining projects in the Philippines, Silangan is not affected by a local moratorium on approvals for new production. But it would be covered by a new tax regime that Congress may legislate to increase the government's share of mining revenue.

In June, Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said Philex was looking to reduce the project cost by as much as two-thirds through the use of open-pit mining and might seek a partner to develop and operate the Silangan mine.

Operational problems related to digging had earlier prompted Philex to jack up Silangan's estimated cost by $500 million to $1.5 billion and push back the start of production by more than a year to 2018.

On Wednesday, Philex announced a 34 percent drop in nine-month net income from a year before to 950.6 million pesos ($21 million) due to lower ore grades and depressed metal prices.

Philex exports most of its Padcal copper concentrates to Japan for smelting by Pan Pacific Copper Co Ltd, part of JX Holdings Inc and partly owned by Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co Ltd.

Philex said it was still looking to extend Padcal's mine life beyond 2020 by exploring areas within and outside the mine. (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Alan Raybould)


Bezant Resources in the black

Interactive Investor Stockwatch

11 November 2014

Bezant Resources swung into the black in the year to the end of June posting after-tax profits of £3.9m against a loss of £1.4m last time.

The AIM listed copper-gold exploration and development company operating in the Philippines and Argentina, said the profit reflects the non-refundable payments received from Gold Fields Netherlands Services BV for both the original option and option extension over the flagship Mankayan project in the Philippines.

The group said it had approximately £2.4m cash at bank at the year-end (2013: £3.8m) and remains well funded to continue its ongoing activities.

Chief executive Bernard Olivier said: "Whilst the current global mining markets and uncertainty over the Philippines tax situation remain significant challenges, we have ensured that Bezant is on a secure financial footing with time to leverage value from its assets.

"The board continues to work on ways forward to build long term value in the Company based on its proven track record of cost effective project development and we look forward to reporting further progress in respect of our asset portfolio in the year ahead."


Mindoro Resources ships first iron-ore from Philippines

By Henry Lazenby

Mining Weekly

24 October 2014

TORONTO – TSX-V- and Frankfurt-listed Mindoro Resources this week reported that it had completed the first shipment of high-iron/low-nickel direct shipping ore (DSO) from the Agata project, located in northern Mindanao, the Philippines.

The shipment comprising 54 181 wet metric tonnes (wmt) of limonite ore containing 0.70% nickel and 49% iron left the port of Payong-Payong, in Agusan del Norte, on Sunday.

Under terms of the off-take arrangement between subsidiary Agata Mining Ventures (AMVI) and Tewoo Hoperay (Singapore), AMVI expected to receive gross revenue of $890 000 for the shipment.

Upon final exercising of a 25% option in the Agata project, Mindoro would hold a 40% direct interest in AMVI, a joint-venture (JV) company in which TVI Resource Development (TVIRD) also holds a 60% interest in the project.

"We congratulate operator TVIRD on their efficiency in loading our first DSO shipment in just seven days. Mindoro's transition towards becoming a cash-flow generating company, through its interest in AMVI, hails a major milestone in Mindoro's strategy to rebuild value for its shareholders,” Mindoro CEO Penny Gould said.

Agata output remained steady and the operation had a remaining inventory of about 26 669 wmt of limonite ore with nickel and iron content levels between 0.7% and 0.9% and 48% and 49%, respectively. The operation was expected to ship about 55 000 wmt of DSO about every three to four weeks, with shipping rates expected to accelerate rapidly to 2.5-million wmt per year in 2015.

Mindoro also on Thursday announced that Gould had resigned as director of the company to make way for Geocel Olanday, who had been appointed to the board.

Agata Project

The Agata project is located in Agusan del Norte province, within the Surigao mining region on the island of Mindanao. The Surigao region is a major nickel-producing region providing ore to processing plants in Australia, China, Korea and Japan. The region has hosted between thirteen and fifteen DSO operations since 2011 and exported 27-million wmt in 2013.

An initial offtake agreement was signed in June between AMVI and Tewoo Hoperay, a subsidiary of Tianjin Hoperay Mineral Limited Company, a major Chinese State owned enterprise, to sell one-million wmt of DSO.

A second agreement was inked in August to sell 500 000 wmt.

The JV received advance payments of $2-million against the initial agreement to fund start-up operating costs and a further $1-million advance was expected in connection with the second agreement.

On September 10, Mindoro and TVI released a National Instrument (NI) 43-101-compliant feasibility study indicating robust economics for a DSO operation of the high-iron laterite resources at the Agata project. The study concluded that the project had low initial start-up capital requirements of only $10.1-million; a high internal rate of return of 187%; and expected payback within the first year of operation.

It also calculated a post-tax net present value (at 10% discount) of $37.9-million; and, DSO product to grade 48% iron and 0.9% nickel – a product the company said was in consistent demand.

An April, 2013 NI 43-101 resource estimate reported proven and probable reserves of 9.7-million wmt.

Mindoro noted that DSO prices were subject to seasonal fluctuations influenced by weather patterns. During the monsoon season, from about November to February, the rough ocean off the east coast of the Mindanao peninsula prohibits shipping. DSO projects on the west coast, where Agata is located, were however more sheltered and could ship ore 12 months a year and take advantage of potential seasonal price spikes.


Mining revenues up 22% to P57B in H1

by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

5 November 2014

Despite the drop in metal prices, the growth of the country’s mining sector remained robust, posting a 22-percent increase in the total metallic production value in the first half of 2014.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported that metallic mineral production from January to June totaled P57.27 billion, higher by P10.42 billion compared to the recorded metallic production value of P46.84 billion for the same period last year.

“The good showing of the major copper-ore producers—the Didipio Copper-Gold Project of Oceanagold Philippines Inc. and the Padcal Copper-Gold Project of Philex Mining Corp.—was the main factor for the upswing,” MGB Director Leo L. Jasareno said.

According to data provided by the MGB, Didipio’s gold mine in Nueva Vizcaya had an output of P6.07 billion, while Philex produced P5.53 billion worth of minerals.

This is the fourth consecutive quarter that the metallic sector enjoyed positive growth, despite the drop in the prices of major metals.

Among the major minerals, only nickel displayed an upbeat price movement, hovering from $6.38 to $8.74 per pound in the first half.

The average price of gold from January to June dropped by 15.31 percent, from $1,524.52 to $1,291.05 per troy ounce
(oz t). Similarly, the price of silver dropped from $26.64 to $20.05 per oz t. Price of copper also dropped from $3.39 to $3.11 per pound.

Jasareno said the High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) Plant of Taganito Mining Corp. in Claver, Surigao del Norte, commenced operation in October 2013, and it already chipped in P4.04 billion in the first-half revenues.

He added that Taganito’s contribution cushioned the effects of the closure of the Canatuan Mining Project of TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (TVI) and the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project of Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc. (RRMI).

In terms of percentage contribution to the total production value, direct shipping of nickel ore and mixed-nickel sulfides was the prime mover, accounting for 54.19 percent, or P31.03 billion. Gold took the second spot, with 26.69 percent, or P15.28 billion; followed by copper, with 17.72 percent, or P10.15 billion. The remaining 1.40 percent, or P0.80 billion, was shared by silver, zinc, chromite and iron.

In terms of growth rates in production value, nickel (direct-shipping ore and mixed sulphides) has the highest, with 59 percent, from P19.52 billion in 2013 to P31.03 billion in 2014 year on year, a difference of P11.52 billion.

Zinc posted the biggest loss, from P0.41 billion to zero production during the review period. This is due to the closure of the mining operations of TVI and RRMI. Both mines produced copper and zinc ores.

In terms of peso value, the other top producers are Coral Bay HPAL Project of Coral Bay Nickel Corp., producing an estimated value of P5.49 billion; Toledo Copper Project of Carmen Copper Corp., with P4.98 billion; and Masbate Gold Projecct of Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp., with P4.61 billion.


Gov’t allows miners to expand sites

Business World online

6 November 2014

THE GOVERNMENT has relaxed its rules on mining operations throughout the country, allowing firms with existing contracts to expand their areas, “subject to certain conditions.”
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said in a Nov. 3 statement on its Web site that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2014-06, which will let operating mines broaden their contract areas.

“The amendment provides that the expansion areas of operating mines with available mineral resources/reserves will be allowed subject to validation by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) thru its Technical Working Group on Environmental Protection,” the mines bureau said.

“The order comes at a time when a number of operating mines in the country requires the expansion of their existing contract areas in order to sustain their operations but faces possible closure because the Economic Development Cabinet Cluster cannot issue the certification that there is an imminent and/or threatened economic disruption.”

DAO 2014-06, dated July 21, amends DAO 2012-07-A, or the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order (EO) No. 79, issued on Sept. 10, 2012.

EO 79, signed by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III on July 6, 2012, details changes to the country’s mining policy aimed mainly towards ensuring a more responsible industry and getting a larger share of the sector’s revenues.

The new issuance amends Section 7 of the IRR, which provides “that no expansion of existing contract areas shall be allowed by the DENR Secretary unless there is an imminent and/or threatened economic disruption, such as a shortage of critical commodities and raw materials, that could adversely affect priority government projects and/or economic activities as determined by the Economic Development Cabinet Cluster ...”

“[D]uring its 17th Meeting on May 30, 2014, the MICC -- recognizing the implication of mine closure to the economy -- reached the agreement to amend Section 7 of DAO 2012-07-A...,” the issuance read.

Mining operations throughout the country are governed by mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) and financial or technical assistance agreements (FTAAs).

Under the Mining Act of 1995, MPSAs are granted to firms with at least 60% local ownership, under which mining operations are subject to a 2% excise tax based on the actual market value of their gross mineral output.

MPSAs for areas in mineral reservations are however also subject to an additional 5% royalty.

FTAAs, meanwhile, are the only arrangements that permit 100% foreign ownership and are subject to a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement.

EO 79 extended a moratorium on the issuance of new mining permits until legislation on the mining industry’s new revenue-sharing scheme is passed.

Under the latest draft of the proposal, mining firms will be subject to a 55-45 revenue sharing agreement, with the larger portion going to the state.

The new scheme under the draft measure, which was submitted to Malacañang last June, would allow government to levy either 10% tax on gross revenues or get 55% of adjusted net mining revenues, depending on which is higher.

A percentage of windfall profits will also be taxed, MGB Director Leo L. Jasareno said last August. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc


Philippines: 1,000 indigenous peoples in Panay Island join nationwide protests on Haiyan anniversary

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) press release

8 November 2014

On the first year anniversary of the day typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) wiped out several thousands of homes in Eastern Visayas and Panay island, around a thousand Tumandok indigenous peoples from the remote mountainsides of Iloilo and Capiz provinces of Panay join the nationwide protests of Yolanda survivors and their supporters.

The protesters decry the “criminal negligence” of the government over the relief and rehabilitation of areas devastated by the super typhoon.

An organization of indigenous peoples in Panay Island, Tumanduk-Panay, said that they cannot “feel” the billions of foreign aid given to the typhoon survivors, much less government efforts for relief and rehabilitation.

“One year after Yolanda, we are still trying to get back on our feet. We Tumandok people ourselves are rebuilding our homes, recovering our farmlands, and moving on from the loss of our families. The government, for its part, only extended us a few kilos of rice, some noodles, and a few cans of sardines after this tremendous disaster,” Marevic Aguirre, chairperson of Tumanduk-Panay said in Bisaya.

Tumanduk-Panay has launched rebuilding and rehabilitation using the “dagyaw” system of cooperation and collective work traditional to the Tumandok people. Although with limited materials, the rebuilding of their lives are underway, Aguirre shared.

“We are relying on our own strength to rebuild our lives and recover from this tragedy, because the Aquino government has failed to provide just relief and rehabilitation for us survivors,” Aguirre further stated.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC) places the number of people in Panay Island affected by typhoon Yolanda at 2,363,568. Of this number, 248 died, 1,023 were injured and 21 are still missing.

According to indigenous peoples organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), the indigenous peoples affected by typhoon Yolanda are the least serviced by the government due to the remoteness of their homes and the “prevailing criminal neglect” of the government over the Yolanda disaster relief and rehabilitation.

“We aptly describe the government’s disregard and apathy for the Yolanda survivors as ‘criminal’ because, a year after the typhoon killed thousands of Filipinos, it still has no clear and concrete steps to help the people rise from the devastation,” Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP said.

Despite the P170.9-billion comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan (CRRP), Malayao said that there has been no significant help extended to the Tumandok people in Panay nor other indigenous peoples communities affected by the super typhoon.

Around 12,000 indigenous peoples were affected by the super typhoon in the provinces of Panay, Mindoro and Palawan, according to KAMP estimates.

“Indigenous peoples are among the most devastated in calamities, as their homes are usually very breakable and cannot withstand the torrents of wind and rain. Their livelihood is also much reliant on nature. Their remoteness and upland dwellings pose even more danger and difficulty to be reached by help. This is the reason why the government should have placed more effort in providing prompt and appropriate relief and rehabilitation for indigenous poples,” Malayao said.

“Aquino avoids to face the music and skipped visiting Tacloban where a massive protest is going to be held by Yolanda survivors. The call for his ouster from the presidency will gain ground amidst his arrogance and indifference towards the suffering people,” Malayao claimed.

Twenty thousand people from all over the Panay Island participated in the Yolanda anniversary protest.

Reference: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson 0917-3631576
Lea Fullon, Public Information Officer 0998-297500
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)


Mining hobbled by gov’t ‘fixation’ on taxes

Tap local industry to ensure inclusive growth in the country, expert urges gov’t

By Daxim L. Lucas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

13 October 2014

The Aquino administration’s proposal to hike taxes on the Philippine mining industry to an effective rate of as high as 81 percent of a company’s net income may result in the government drawing in less revenue from the sector—the exact opposite effect of what it hopes to achieve.

More importantly, Ronald Mendoza of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center believes that the government’s “narrow focus on revenues” risks neglecting other important aspects of mining policy unaddressed, “resulting in failure to generate cohesive support from all sectors.”

Activity in the local mining industry has remained relatively lackluster compared to those of other mineral-rich nations in recent years due to the lack of clear direction from policy makers on several issues, chief of which is the contentious tax rate.

Philippine metallic mineral production was up by only 0.26 percent in 2013. The estimated production value stood at P99.33 billion in 2013 compared to P99.04 billion in 2012, a gain of only P298 million.

The lack of clarity on policy also resulted in the failure of the Philippine mining sector to capitalize on the surge in mineral prices in the last few years due to surging demand from China.

According to Mendoza, “very little evidence” has been shared by the government on the possible impact of the new tax regime on existing and future mining investments which, in turn, would have an impact on future revenues as well.

A study by professor Ramon Clarete and Karlo Adriano of the UP School of Economics finds evidence that the proposed new mining tax regime will dramatically increase the country’s average effective tax rate on copper, gold, and nickel (all taken together and weighted) from 16 percent to 81 percent.

“This translates to a projected decrease in mining investments in the Philippines, both domestic and foreign, of anywhere from 13 percent to 67 percent,” Mendoza said in his position paper. “If investments go down, so too will revenue, eventually.”

The Aquino administration is proposing a revenue sharing scheme for large-scale metallic mines which imposes either a 10-percent tax on gross revenue or a 55-percent tax on the adjusted net mining revenue. This will replace all existing income and sales taxes and royalties paid by mining firms.

Philippine miners contend that, including all other government levies, the effective tax rate would rise to as high as 81 percent.

Mendoza said the government should clearly communicate to all stakeholders its basis for proposing the higher tax rate to avoid creating more uncertainty.

The AIM Policy Center official also stressed that international best practice explicitly states how mining wealth will be managed and invested—something that is not immediately evident in the local setting.

“For the Philippines, the creation of an ‘inclusive growth trust fund’ could be critically important, ensuring that mining wealth is invested transparently and consistently over time, and in areas that boost inclusive and sustained growth and development,” he suggested. High-yielding investments here may include those that focus on the education and health of the youth—the country’s human capital—as well as the necessary infrastructure to boost the country’s physical capital, with a bias towards investing in neglected and marginalized regions of the economy.

Mendoza’s position paper also called on the government to help consolidate public support for mining policies by promoting stronger transparency and accountability across all stakeholders; improve public sector governance, and increase coherence across central and local government policies on mining; improve public sector governance, and increase coherence across central and local government policies, and integrate mining more effectively in the country’s industrialization and job-creation strategy.

“All of these reforms require greater ambition—not simply to fixate on short-term tax revenues, but more importantly to connect mining policy to the over-all industrialization blueprint, linking mining with stronger investments, job creation, and sustainable growth,” Mendoza said.

“It’s not too late to take steps in order to arrive at a more balanced mining policy that will help us harness and transform our mineral wealth into a truly inclusive development."

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