MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines - Papal intervention sought over mining

Published by MAC on 2015-01-22
Source: Statements, InterAksyon, Manila Standard, Star (2015-01-22)

The recent visit of the Pope to the Philippines received copious press coverage, packed congregations and an abundance of requests for support, with a leaning towards human rights issues, climate change, and of course, mining. A number of bishops, activists and Church groups requested support in their struggles, and raised the issue of Church investment in large scale mining. (A recent MAC article has highlighted the current Pope's concern for the environment - see: Pope Francis joins global battle to "save the planet").

Even as the anti-mining requests were being made to the pontiff, and proposed reforming legislation is a long way off, it seems that the industry is slowly resuming in the country. A number of mines that had been suspended after environmental incidents - including those of Oriental Peninsula Resources Group, Red 5 and Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. - have been cleared to restart.

Although Glencore's Tampakan project remains stalled, their minority partner Indophil has also had approval to sell its share of the project to the Philippines-based Alsons Group. OceanaGold's Didipio project has become more central to their operations, despite ongoing disputes over taxation. TVI Pacific has claimed confidence to move forward with its controversial project at Balabag.

Green groups, Catholic bishops urge Pope Francis to stand for ecology against large-scale mining

Joint Press Release

14 January 2015

Twenty-three environmental groups and four Catholic bishops appealed to Pope Francis to intervene on the issue of ecological devastation and human rights violations brought about by large-scale mining operations in the Philippines.

“We are appealing to Pope Francis and the Catholic Church to support the call of the Filipino people to stop large-scale mining plunder and destruction in the Philippines. The mining liberalization policy in the past two decades have led to the destruction of marine and freshwater ecosystems, denudation of forests, and displacement of peoples. As a result, communities suffer from worsening poverty and are more vulnerable to climate change impacts,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, former Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yniquez Jr., Eastern Samar Bishop Crispin Varquez, and Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo are among the bishops who signed the letter.

Environmental groups that signed the letter are Kalikasan PNE, Defend Patrimony Alliance, Panalipdan Mindanao, Cordillera People’s Alliance, People’s Surge, 350.org PH, Marinduque Center for Environmental Concerns, AGHAM, Sulong Kiblawan Para sa Kalikasan, UP Saribuhay, Homonhon Enviornmental Rescue Organization among others.

The group said that the Pope’s visit in Asia and Philippines is part of His preparation in formulating an Encyclical on Climate Change which will educate and instruct the Catholic Church hierarchy to act on environmental and climate change issues.

“The Catholic Church in the Philippines has always been concerned about the ecological destruction and community displacement caused by corporate mining in the country. Testament to this are the statements issued by Catholic Bishop of the Philippines (CBCP) raising concerns on the government’s mining policy. Bishops and priests are active in local and national movements for the protection of the environment and defense of communities against large-scale mining,” said Bishop Yniguez, convenor of Stewards of Creation, an ecumical group opposing big mining in the Philippines.

Bishops Bastes, Arigo and Varquez are vocal in their opposition to large-scale mining in their respective provinces.

Bishop Varquez from Eastern Samar will try to talk to the Pope during the Holy Father’s visit to Leyte on January 17. “The Yolanda-affected people of Samar and I are hoping that Pope Francis will take notice of the people’s suffering aggravated by impacts of large-scale mining and climate change,” says Bishop Varquez.

“We beseech His Holiness to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with Your righteous call, to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children,” read the letter to the Pope signed by the Catholic bishops and environmental groups.

Reference: Clemente Bautista 0922844978

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756
Website: www.kalikasan.net


His Holiness
Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
Vatican City 00120

Most Holy Father,

We, the undersigned environmental advocates, grassroots leaders, and faithful servants, urgently write to Your Holiness to underscore our concern against large-scale mining owned by multinational and transnational corporations. These projects are being done in cooperation with government officials and local big businessmen. There are 46 different large-scale metallic mine projects across the Philippines, with thousands more approved or operating metallic and nonmetallic mine projects and mineral applications covering over a million hectares of mineralized areas.

Since the ratification of the Mining Act of 1995 opened up our nation’s lands to foreign largescale mining, poor farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people and workers living in mine-affected areas have suffered from its destructive impacts. The current administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III further aggravated this policy with Executive Order 79, which, among other impositions, overrides local policy opposition to big mining operations.

In the past two decades, massive mine spills have caused the biological death of river and marine ecosystems, poisoned agricultural lands and fisheries, and displaced thousands of communities. Mining operations and their ‘investment defense forces’—paramilitary and military forces guarding mines, some of which are in the companies’ payroll—have caused widespread land-grabs, militarization, and human rights violations in the countryside.

The Church has always been concerned about the integrity of God’s creation and large-scale mining is an “attack being made on the natural world” that is “endangering its fruitfulness for future generations”1.

In this regard, we would like to appeal to Your Holiness for your prayers and your intervention. We humbly appeal for your solidarity with the countless poor victimized by big mining, by giving voice to their cries for the stoppage of plunder by large-scale mining and pull out of their military and paramilitary forces from the affected communities.

As a step towards this, we beseech His Holiness to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with your righteous call to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children.

We pray for your Your Holiness' support to this request of your most obedient and humble servants.

1 ‘Pastoral Letter on Ecology’ Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (1988)

Clemente Bautista
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Frances Quimpo
Executive Director
Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines

Dr. Giovanni Tapang
Chairperson
AGHAM-Advocates of Science & Technology for the People

Pya Macliing Malayao
National Coordinator
KAMP (Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas)/
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines

Kakay Tolentino
National Coordinator
BAI Indigenous Women's Network

Rep. Fernando Hicap
National Chairman
PAMALAKAYA
Anakpawis Representative

Nonilon Sidney A. Abao
Chairperson
Minggan – UP Diliman

Mr. Windel Bolinget
Chairperson
Cordillera Peoples Alliance

Dr. Jean Lindo
Co-Chair
Panalipdan Mindanao

Kim Ajeas Gargar
Spokesperson
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao

Carlos Trangia
Spokesperson
Barug Katawhan

Marvin Doods de Castro
Coordinator
Panalipdan Youth Southern Mindanao

Dr. Ruth Gamboa
Chairperson
AGHAM-SMR

Most Rev. Arturo M. Bastes
Bishop or Sorsogon

Most Rev. Deogracias Yniquez Jr.
Former Bishop of Caloocan

Most Rev. Crispin Varquez
Bishop of Eastern Samar

Most Rev. Pedro Arigo
Palawan Bishop

Arsen D. Sumeg-ang
MJ (Missionary of Jesus)

Pablo Bello Jr.
Chairperson
Sulong Tiblawan Para sa Kalikasan (Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental)

Gil Dominic Catalan
Chairperson
UP Saribuhay

Bianca Victoria Aljibe
Chairperson
Minggan – UP Manila

Fr. Oliver Castor
Chairperson
Bukal Batangas

Sr. Cecille Ido, OSB
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Missionary Benedictine Sisters (JPIC-MBS)

Patrick Torres
Executive Director
Central Visayas Farmers Development Center, Inc (FARDEC)

Elizabeth E. Manggol
Executive Secretary
Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC)

Erenio Bobolla
Leader
Didipio Landowners Association

Villardo Abueme
President
Homonhon Environment Rescuers Organization (HERO)


Environmental groups hopeful over Pope Francis’ visit, awaits Papal Encyclical on Climate Change

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

15 January 2015

Environmental groups led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), People Surge Alliance for Yolanda (Haiyan) Survivors, and 350.org Pilipinas joined the millions of Filipinos who welcomed the Pope’s arrival today.

In Manila, advocates under Kalikasan PNE and 350.org Pilipinas participated in a Mass organized by peasant groups from the Southern Tagalog Region who aim to bring up the issues of land grabbing and mining with the pontiff.

“We see Pope Francis as an environmental activist and leader. He consistently issues his stand on ecological destruction, environmental degradation and climate change impacts. He lobbies international institutions and national governments to unite and immediately act in addressing global warming,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

During the 20th UN Climate Change Conference in Peru in 2014, Pope Francis said “an effective fight against global warming will be possible only with a collective and responsible answer....free from political and economic influence.”

“We believe Pope Francis’ visit is part of his preparation in coming out with his much-awaited Encyclical on Climate Change and Human Ecology. We hope this will outline the position and actions of the Catholic Church on climate change concerns like fossil fuels, large-scale mining, coal and nuclear power plants, and the accountability of polluting countries like the United States, Japan, and the European Union,” Bautista said.

In Tacloban, People Surge was joined by its fellow conveners from the People’s Committee to Welcome the Pope in Eastern Visayas to put up creative posters and white ribbons bearing the Pontiff’s remarkable quotes on the issue of environment, climate change, and social justice to remind the public on the ongoing plight of disaster survivors in the region.

“We hope Pope Francis surprises the world by sifting through the police barriers and grandiose displays to witness the true situation of Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas, as we continue to suffer from state abandonment amidst the worsening climate crisis. We survivors of recent typhoon disasters hope for the Holy Father’s solidarity in our struggles against continuing militarization, corruption, and large-scale mining aggression that are further worsening the situation in our communities,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge.

Yesterday, four Catholic Bishops and 23 environmental organizations submitted an appeal letter to the Apostolic Nunciature of the Philippines where Pope Francis will stay during his trip. Their appeal is for Pope Francis to intervene on the issue of mining destruction in the Philippines and asking the Catholic Church to divest from large-scale mining companies.

In June 2011, Archdiocese of Manila led by Cardinal Tagle pulled out their investment in Philex Mining Corproration, and in September 2014 it divested in Philex Petroleum.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista 09228449787
--

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756
Website: www.kalikasan.net


#DearPopeFrancis | 4 bishops join green groups urge Pope to speak vs large-scale mining

InterAksyon.com

14 January 2015

MANILA, Philippines -- Four Catholic bishops joined 23 environmental groups in appealing to Pope Francis to back their calls against “large-scale mining plunder and destruction in the Philippines.”

“We, the undersigned environmental advocates, grassroots leaders, and faithful servants, urgently write to Your Holiness to underscore our concern against large-scale mining owned by multinational and transnational corporations,” the letter, released Wednesday, a day before the Pope arrives in the country, said.

Among the signatories were Bishops Arturo Bastes of Sorsogin, Crispin Varquez of Eastern Samar, Pedro Arigo of Palawan and Deogracas Iniguez, retired bishop of Caloocan, and the environmental groups Kalikasan PNE, Defend Patrimony Alliance, Panalipdan Mindanao, Cordillera People’s Alliance, People’s Surge, 350.org PH, Marinduque Center for Environmental Concerns, AGHAM, Sulong Kiblawan Para sa Kalikasan, UP Saribuhay, Homonhon Environmental Rescue Organization, among others.

“Since the ratification of the Mining Act of 1995 opened up our nation’s lands to foreign large-scale mining, poor farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people and workers living in mine-affected areas have suffered from its destructive impacts,” the letter said.

“The current administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III further aggravated this policy with Executive Order 79, which, among other impositions, overrides local policy opposition to big mining operations,” it added.

The signatories said that, over the past two decades, “massive mine spills have caused the biological death of river and marine ecosystems, poisoned agricultural lands and fisheries, and displaced thousands of communities. Mining operations and their ‘investment defense forces’ -- paramilitary and military forces guarding mines, some of which are in the companies’ payroll -- have caused widespread land-grabs, militarization, and human rights violations in the countryside.”

“We humbly appeal for your solidarity with the countless poor victimized by big mining, by giving voice to their cries for the stoppage of plunder by large-scale mining and pull out of their military and paramilitary forces from the affected communities,” they said.

At the same time, citing the Catholic Church’s oft-voiced concern for “the integrity of God’s creation,” they also urged the Pope “to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with your righteous call to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children.”

Iniguez, a convenor of Stewards of Creation, an ecumenical group opposed to large-scale mining in the country, noted that the church “has always been concerned about the ecological destruction and community displacement caused by corporate mining in the country” and cited several statements by the Catholic Bishop of the Philippines and the active participation of priests and bishops in local and national movements protecting the environment.

Varquez, on the other hand, said he would try to talk to the Pope during the pontiff’s visit to Leyte on Saturday, January 17.

“The Yolanda-affected people of Samar and I are hoping that Pope Francis will take notice of the people’s suffering aggravated by impacts of large-scale mining and climate change,” Varquez said, referring to the survivors of the November 8, 2013 super typhoon that devastated his province as well as Leyte and large parts of the central Philippines.


Center for sustainable mining proposed

Business World online

15 January 2015

A PROPOSAL to create a research institute for sustainable mining has been filed at the House of Representatives, with the proponent citing the need to address the public’s negative views about mining practices while maximizing use of the country’s mineral resources.

House Bill 5293 calls for a National Research Center for Sustainable Mineral Industry (NRCSMI) to conduct research and development into “environmentally sound and efficient” mining practices.

The institute would help boost the mining sector’s contribution to the economy, according to bill author Agusan del Norte Rep. Erple John “Ping” M. Amante (2nd district).

“Despite its vast reserves, the country is unable to maximize these endowments due mainly to the negative public perception towards the mining industry,” Mr. Amante said in a statement yesterday.

“The government must provide support to this ailing industry by allocating resources for the development of technologies and practices that will make mining activities more environmentally and socially sound; and enable us to maximize the use of minerals for industrialization.”

The measure comes amid several proposals seeking reforms to the local mineral industry, which include increasing the share of government in mining revenues and banning the export of mineral ores -- a move strongly pushed by government but opposed by business groups.

In 2012, President Benigno S. C. Aquino issued Executive Order 79 to declare an indefinite ban on new mining permits in the Philippines, citing the need to “improve environmental mining standards” and increase government revenues. It specifically states that no new mineral agreements can be granted until a law is passed to rationalize existing revenue sharing schemes.

The new fiscal regime measure has yet to be finalized by Malacañang, more than two years since Mr. Aquino issued the order. Similar proposals, however, are pending before both houses of Congress.

Once created, the NRSCSMI will be tasked to pursue research on economically viable methods of mineral exploration, extraction and processing, and mine rehabilitation, and with providing assistance for the drafting of mining policy at the national and local levels.

An eight-member board of trustees will govern the research center. It will include a representative from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau which currently serves as the national authority for the industry.

The measure is currently pending before the House Committee on Natural Resources. -- Melissa Luz T. Lopez


Mining bill seen enacted this year

Othel V. Campos

Manila Standard

18 January 2015

The Trade Department expects the passage of a new mining law this year, which is expected to boost government revenues and open more mining projects.

“We see this bill as a fairer distribution of revenues to all parties concerned. It may help resolve certain government revenue issues from mining activities,” said Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo.
Domingo

Domingo said while he could not ask legislators to expedite the approval of the bill, he would support any exercise that would make the bill move faster in the legislative process. “Only the MICC [Mining Industry Coordinating Council] can do that,” he said.

Domingo said three formulas were drawn up to make the revenue structure acceptable to all parties. These included a minimum sharing scheme, co-sharing and windfall formula.

He said all revenue schemes were patterned after the financial and technical assistance agreement, with slight differences.

Domingo did not provide more details, but “suffice to say that we expect the scheme to work out for all the merits we put in.”

The new scheme aims to harmonize the sharing of revenues between the government and the mining industry.

Domingo said with the approval of the bill, the mining sector was expected to enter another period of growth, with more companies investing in the country.

He said the mining sector would continue to receive incentives from the government, although projects would no longer enjoy a pioneer status.

Domingo said the tax rebate on capital equipment would remain one of the benefits for mining companies registering with the Board of Investments.

Meanwhile, the multi-sectoral committee on trade and investment said it was polishing a mining roadmap for select precious and base metals to develop a more viable downstream industry for gold, nickel, chromite, iron and manganese.

The committee submitted the mining roadmap for gold in the first quarter of 2014. Roadmaps for other minerals were expected to be completed for subsequent presentation to the MICC this year.

The multi-sectoral committee is composed of the Trade, Environment, Science and Finance Departments, National Economic Development Authority and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.


Oriental Peninsula unit cleared to resume operations at second Palawan mine

By Orti Despuez

InterAksyon.com

14 January 2015

MANILA - A unit of listed Oriental Peninsula Resources Group (ORE) and one other company that were ordered to cease operations for various violations can resume work at their respective mines after complying with government conditions.

In separate orders, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has allowed Greenstone Resources Corp (GRC) and Citinickel Mines and Development Corp (CMDC) to reopen their mines.

The MGB suspended CMDC last year after a siltation accident at its Sofronio Española mine, one of two concessions the company operates in Palawan. CMDC last year resumed operations at the other mining area in Narra town.

According to the government, the company has since strengthened one of the Sofronio mine's pit bottom, installed a coco-matting cover on the outer slope of the siltation ponds, and cleared the mine waste.

CMDC is a unit of ORE, which today closed up 12.72 percent to P2.57 a share, making it one of the most actively traded stocks for the day and bucking the mining and oil counter's 0.48 percent drop.

As for GRC, the MGB in 2013 issued a cease and desist order after a crack developed along the embankment of a tailings storage facility at the company's Siana gold mine, which straddles the towns of Tubod and Mainit in Surigao del Norte.

GRC was allowed to resume work after a joint team of the MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) accepted the certification of third-party expert GHD Pty Ltd that the mining company completed a new high-density polyethylene-lined tailings storage facility, as well as strengthened two other tailings facility.


MGB allows Greenstone to resume Surigao mine

By Czeriza Valencia

The Philippine Star

19 January 2015

MANILA, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has allowed Greenstone Resources Corporation to resume its gold processing operations in Surigao del Norte after constructing a new tailings storage facility and implementing other remedial measures.

The MGB issued on June 6, 2013 a cease-and-desist order (CDO) on the gold processing operations of Greenstone in its Siana Gold Project after a tension crack was found on the embankment of its tailings storage facility (TSF) No. 4.

A stoppage order on its mineral processing operations was immediately implemented to allow the firm to restore the integrity of its tailings storage facility.

Only the mine’s mineral processing operation, however, had been stopped.

The MGB said that after a series of validations conducted by the MGB and the Environment Management Bureau (MGB), and as certified by third party expert GHD Pty. Ltd., it was determined that Greenstone had complied with the conditions laid for the lifting of the suspension order.

The measures include the construction of a new HDPE-lined TSF for additional storage; installation of a thickener and cement mixing facility for production for a dry product that would add stability to existing TSFs; and modifications of its existing TSF 3 and TSF 4 to accommodate cement tailings.

“The MGB found that the aforementioned conditions were substantially complied with by GRC (Greenstone), following an inspection of the company’s ongoing rehabilitation measures on Nov. 21-22, 2014. Thus, MGB recommended the lifting of the CDO,” the bureau said in an announcement on its website.

The lifting order was signed on Dec. 18, 2014 by MGB assistant director Elmer Biledo as authorized by MGB director Leo Jasareno.

Greenstone operates the Siana Gold project that straddles the municipalities of Mainit and Tubod.

Red 5 Ltd. of Australia holds a 90-percent beneficial interest in the project through Greenstone Resources.

Red 5 said it would soon commission the new cement plant.

The Siana gold project, which was commissioned in 2012, is expected to produce a minimum of 849,000 ounces of gold at a cash cost of $400 per ounce over a 10-year life.


Miners awarded exploration permits in Agusan, Cotabato

Business World online

6 January 2015

TWO MINING companies have bagged new mining permits for their exploration activities in separate locations in Mindanao, a government agency said in a statement on its Web site.

“The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) recently approved the Exploration Permits (EPs) of Bunawan Mining Corporation (Bunawan) and Kiamba Mining and Development Corporation (Kiamba)...,” the statement read.

MGB said Bunawan’s permit, which will expire on Aug. 18, 2016, covers a 677.0285-hectare site in Rosario, Agusan del Sur.

Meanwhile, the EP of Kiamba, which will lapse on Aug. 20, 2016, entitles the miner to a 7,047-hectare area that straddles Maitum, Kiamba, Sarangani and Maasim, Lake Sebu and T’boli -- all in South Cotabato.

“The EPs grant Bunawan and Kiamba the right to explore the potential gold, copper and other associated mineral deposits within the permit area for a period of two years renewable for like periods but not to exceed a total term of six years, as such in the case of metallic minerals,” the statement read.

The MGB noted that approval of the permits was in accordance to the provisions of Republic Act. No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, as well as its implementing rules and regulations.

“The permits were approved after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary issued the clearance to grant the EP,” the MGB added.

Bunawan and Kiamba’s EPs serve as the second and third of its kind that were issued since the enactment of Executive Order No. 79 in July 2012.

The first one was that of Goodearth Mining and Development, Inc. which was issued in May last year.

The EP covers a 1,968.0622 hectare area in Dinapigue, Isabela. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano


3 mining firms to pay Zambales farmers P3.2M

Farmers will be compensated for their damaged lots due to nickel laterite operations in the province

Rappler.com

22 January 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) ordered 3 mining firms in Zambales to pay P3.2 million ($72.36 million*) to compensate the farmers whose lots in the municipalities of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria have been damaged by their operations.

A total of 30 farm lots located in Barangays Tubo-Tubo North, Tubo-Tubo South, and Lomboy were affected by the mining operations of Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, Inc., Eramen Minerals, Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., MGB said on its website, citing the report of its Contingent Liability and Rehabilitation Fund Steering Committee (CLRFSC).

The claims were approved based on the report of the Regional Investigation and Assessment Team created by the MGB Regional Office III.

The claims amount was computed based on the impact areas and river systems immediately located in the contract areas of the mining companies.

The total compensation amount shall be distributed among the 3 companies based on the extent of damage caused by their operations, MGB said.

MGB suspended in July 2014 the nickel extraction operations of the 3 mining firms because of unsystematic strip mining methods.

The unsystematic strip mining operations lead to inefficient recovery of minerals and cause adverse environmental impacts, like siltation in bodies of water and generation of dust, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said.

Prior to the suspension, residents of Sta. Cruz have been complaining of nickel contamination in shores and rice fields.

As such, the companies were ordered to remove all stand-by stockpiles in open cut areas and store these in designated stockpile areas, equipped with proper drainage systems.

The firms were also ordered to implement maintenance measures for the duration of the suspension and reports shall be sent to the MGB regional office for compliance. – Rappler.com


 

Philippines: Alsons takeover of Indophil okayed

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

6 January 2015

Exploration firm Indophil Resources NL of Australia becomes a wholly Filipino-owned company effective January 13 when it begins de-listing from the Australian Stock Exchange following the approval of its sale to the Alsons Group in a stockholders meeting in December.

The deal, valued at AU$361 million (P14.3 billion) in cash, allows Alsons Prime Investment Corporation (APIC) to acquire 37.5 percent of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) which owns the stalled US$5.9-B Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

Global mining and commodities giant Glencore International controls the rest of the 62.5 percent stake of SMI.

A source form Indophil said it is waiting for the “formal sign-off by the Supreme Court in Australia and that process is slated for the morning of January 13″.

After that, corporate secretary Gavan Collery said Indophil “begins a de-listing process which leads to 100 percent ownership Philippine company Alsons through its subsidiary APIC.”

Filipino consortium

The acquisition of the minority share in SMI completes Alsons attempts to make significant exposure to the moribund firm.

Alsons is reportedly backed by Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings which earlier appointed Frederic DyBuncio as member of the Board of Directors of Indophil.

Nicasio Alcantara represents the Alsons Group.

Also owning minority shares in SMI are San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon Ang and PLDT’s Manny Pangilinan.

Failed attempts

Indophil had been looking to unload its stake in SMI beginning with the botched 2008 sale to a consortium of investors led by Stanhill Resources of Hong Kong for AUS$1.28 per share on condition that Indophil deliver at least 90 per cent of its shares in the mining firm.

But minority shareholder Lions Selection sold 17.76 per cent of its 25 per cent stakes at Indophil to Xstrata, which automatically voided the bid offer of Stanhill after Xstrata exercised its veto power.

The year before, in 2007, Xstrata PLC exercised its option in SMI, allowing it to gain majority control of SMI by converting its interest to a 62.5 percent stake in the firm.

Alsons Corp is one of the companies that joined Stanhill in the consortium which failed to buy out Indophil.

After the failed bid to sell to Stanhill, Alsons Corp submitted another bid for the same price per share, this time for only the shares held by Indophil at SMI.

Xstrata rejected the offer.

In 2009, Indophil nearly completed the sale of its stakes in SMI to Chinese mining giant Zijin Mining Group Limited before the latter terminated talks in 2010.

In 2012, Filipino-owned San Miguel Corporation conducted due diligence in a prelude to the acquisition of Indophil shares in SMI.

San Miguel, however, also backed out from the negotiations.

Following the takeover of Glencore International of Xstrata PLC, SMI plunged into further uncertainties as operations were scaled down after the Tampakan-based company failed to secure necessary government permits to proceed with the commercial operations of the project.

Glencore has publicly stated that it is reluctant to proceed with ‘greenfield projects’ as its takeover of Xstrata required the commodities giant to pour in massive capital and the sale of several of Xstrata’s productive mining projects.

Opposition

SMI has been facing strong opposition from the local Catholic church and environmental groups.

It also faces a major obstacle to its commercial operations as the provincial government of South Cotabato refuses to repeal or amend a local ordinance that banned open pit mining in the province.

The SMI copper and gold project is located in the mountainous area of Tampakan in South Cotabato.

In addition, the communist-led New People’s Army has been harassing and attacking SMI facilities and personnel as the armed rebels have vowed to stop the company from proceeding with its mining activities.


OceanaGold not negligent on taxes

Manila Standard

13 January 2015

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc. is dutifully paying in full its tax obligations to the province of Nueva Vizcaya and to all other government entities as well as in cases as may be directed by the court.

Bradley Norman, OceanaGold country director, made the affirmation to correct the misinformation published by a Manila-based daily that OceanaGold had an unsettled tax obligation with the province of Nueva Vizcaya.

“The misimpression that OceanaGold is remiss in the payment of real property taxes arises from the fact that the issue of where to pay them is currently uncertain and is yet to be decided by the court,” Norman said.

Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces have both sent OceanaGold real property tax assessments, which put OceanaGold in a dilemma.”

The issue is the subject of a case pending before Branch 142 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City. The case will decide the boundary-jurisdiction confusion between Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino and where the real property taxes should be paid.

“Unless a concrete information from an authorized third party surfaces, we have no preference as to which of the two provinces should receive the real property taxes, both of them have equal rights to pursue what benefits they perceive as rightfully theirs. Our only wish is that as always our taxes would benefit the whole region.” Norman said.

He assured affected parties in the dispute that OceanaGold was ready, willing and able to pay all applicable taxes.

“From the start of the tax dispute, OceanaGold deposited to the court the full amount of real property taxes for 2013. The company likewise moved for the court to authorize the deposit with the court the amount of real property taxes for the year 2014.” Norman said, while awaiting the decision of the court.

Norman said it was ironic that OceanaGold should be reported negligent in paying its taxes.

“The company is one big supporter of Nueva Vizcaya’s tax campaign launched last year. We in fact have been cited for topping the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s list of taxpaying corporations in the province. The BIR district office said OceanaGold is one of the highest tax- paying companies in Cagayan Valley,” he said.


3 mining firms to pay Zambales farmers P3.2M

Farmers will be compensated for their damaged lots due to nickel laterite operations in the province

Rappler.com

22 January 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) ordered 3 mining firms in Zambales to pay P3.2 million ($72.36 million*) to compensate the farmers whose lots in the municipalities of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria have been damaged by their operations.

A total of 30 farm lots located in Barangays Tubo-Tubo North, Tubo-Tubo South, and Lomboy were affected by the mining operations of Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, Inc., Eramen Minerals, Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., MGB said on its website, citing the report of its Contingent Liability and Rehabilitation Fund Steering Committee (CLRFSC).

The claims were approved based on the report of the Regional Investigation and Assessment Team created by the MGB Regional Office III.

The claims amount was computed based on the impact areas and river systems immediately located in the contract areas of the mining companies.

The total compensation amount shall be distributed among the 3 companies based on the extent of damage caused by their operations, MGB said.

MGB suspended in July 2014 the nickel extraction operations of the 3 mining firms because of unsystematic strip mining methods.

The unsystematic strip mining operations lead to inefficient recovery of minerals and cause adverse environmental impacts, like siltation in bodies of water and generation of dust, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said.

Prior to the suspension, residents of Sta. Cruz have been complaining of nickel contamination in shores and rice fields.

As such, the companies were ordered to remove all stand-by stockpiles in open cut areas and store these in designated stockpile areas, equipped with proper drainage systems.

The firms were also ordered to implement maintenance measures for the duration of the suspension and reports shall be sent to the MGB regional office for compliance. – Rappler.com

$1 = P44.22


Mine at a loss where to pay taxes

By Brenda Jocson Gaudia

Manila Standard

15 January 2015

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya –An Australian gold mining company said on Wednesday it was at a loss where to pay real property taxes because the court was yet to decide on conflicting jurisdiction over its location between the provinces of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya, a company official said.

Jose Leviste, Jr., President of the Oceana Gold Inc (OGPI), said the company has deposited P28 million under an escrow account with a trial court in Makati, which will cover its tax liabilities as soon as the court decides on the claims of the two provinces.

“We wish to reiterate the company’s position that the matter of the payment of real property taxes continues to be the subject of the “interpleader” case pending before the court,” Leviste said in a letter to Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Ruth Padilla.

Padilla has warned the company it will close down its operations unless real property taxes totaling P91 million, including penalties and charges, will be paid. Since the company started commercial operations in May 2013, it has not remitted tax payments to the province, according to officials.

The company mine site is located in Kasibu, the upland town of Nueva Vizcaya near its boundary with Quirino province, which has also demanded tax payments from the company. In August last year, the court denied a motion by Nueva Vizcaya to withdraw the taxes due to the government.

Leviste said he has sought a meeting with Padilla to give the court time to decide on the issue and “we assure the government that we have every intention to comply with our obligations.

“The company fully understand the importance of the collection of real property taxes as clearly manifested in your motion to withdraw filed with the court . The company did not oppose the motion and left this matter to the decision of the court,” he said.

Leviste said the company will continue its programs to help the barangays affected by mining operations such as putting up health centers, providing radio equipment to barangay officials and salary subsidies for public school teachers.

Padilla said the company has paid a centavo to the province since it started its commercial operations in 2013 and “they have been hauling thousands of tons of gold ore from the province.”

“We have been very patient with OGPI and have considered their predicaments but time is up and we might soon ask them to pack up and leave if they continue to ignore our calls,” she said.


Mining firm allots $63M for Nueva Vizcaya project

By Benjamin Moses Ebreo

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/491421717495/mining-firm-allots-63m-for-nueva-vizcaya-project

20 January 2015

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, January 17 (PIA) – The OceanaGold Corporation (OGC) has alloted $63 million for its mining development in this province this year.

Mick Wilkes, OCG managing director and chief executive officer, said capital expenditure is expected to be approximately $63 million including $23 million for the underground development and $10 million for the connection to the power grid, all in barangay Didipio in Kasibu town.

He also said that of the $100 million total capital budget, $62 million is classified as sustaining capital and is included in the all- in sustaining costs AISC estimates.

Meanwhile, OCG said that the total expenditure for exploration activities in the Philippines is forecast to be $4 million, and in the event that additional exploration permits are granted in the Philippines these activities would increase.

“2015 will be another significant year for the company as we commence development of the underground decline at Didipio which will enable access to the very high grade core for the ore body earlier in the mine plan,” Wilkes said.

Wilkes also said that the power grid connection at barangay Didipio will further reduce their operating costs by the end of the year.

“In this volatile and persistently challenging environment for gold producers, OCeanaGold is uniquely positioned as one of the lowest cost producers globally underpinning strong free cash flows from our business,” Wilkes added.

OCG is a significant multinational gold and copper producer with over 24 years of operating sustainably in New Zealand and more recently in the Philippines. Its flagship operation is the Didpio Mine, which commenced commercial production on April 1, 2013 and has a current mine life to 2030. (ALM/BME/PIA 2-Nueva Vizcaya)


Philippine mining operation helps Australia's OceanaGold meet production target

By: Orti Despuez

InterAksyon.com

21 January 2015

MANILA - Australia's OceanaGold Corporation has attained its production target for 2014, the first full year operation of its gold and copper mine in the Philippines.

In a statement, OceanaGold managing director Mick Wilkes said the company ended last year with 307,463 ounces of gold and 25,010 tons of copper produced from its Philippine and New Zealand mines.

The company had aimed for 285,000-325,000 ounces of gold and 21,000-24,000 tons of copper for 2014.

Its Philippine mine in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya alone, the company produced 106,256 ounces of gold and 25,010 tons of copper -- exceeding OceanaGold's guidance of 85,000-95,000 ounces for gold and 21,000-24,000 tons for copper.

In the fourth quarter, gold production hit 34,783 ounces of gold while copper output reached 6,747 tons.

Wilkes said higher grades of processed ore and record mill feed were responsible for the production increase.

OceanaGold's processing plant is operating at an annualized throughput rate of 3.5 metric tons per annum (Mtpa).

Wilkes said the higher output was in spite frequent rainfall during the fourth quarter.

For this year, OceanaGold expects "very strong results," Wilkes said, adding that gold production is forecast to hit between 295,000 and 335,000 ounces, and copper between 21,000 and 23,000 tons.

“We also remain strongly committed to a disciplined approach to identifying and investing in new assets that would complement our existing portfolio and grow shareholder wealth,” he added.


TVI expects to bag permits for new mine

By Anna Leah G. Estrada

Manila Standard

5 January 2015

TVI Pacific Inc. of Canada said it expects to secure all permits in the first quarter for the start of the Balabag gold-silver project in Zamboanga del Sur.

TVI Pacific said in a statement Philippine affiliate TVI Resource Development Inc. entered the final phase of the permitting process at the Balabag project.

TVIRD is currently fulfilling the final requirements necessary for the approval of the declaration of mining project feasibility from the Environment Department, it said.

TVI said these included the open pit and underground mining methods, tailings dam design, summary and costs of both social and environmental programs. TVI said it would submit the requirements by the end of January.

“Depending on the DENR’s response time, TVIRD anticipates that the permitting process could be completed in the first quarter of 2015, after which on-site construction work will commence,” TVI said.

TVI chairman and chief executive Clifford James said “while the process has taken longer than anticipated, the company was able to fully optimize the process flow sheet by conducting thorough pilot plant test work and various other studies to ensure the operation’s success.”

“We are very encouraged to be nearing the completion of the permitting process at Balabag,” James said.

“In addition, the advancement of the Balabag project serves as another critical stepping stone for TVIRD to secure a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2015, the achievement of which could substantially enhance its investment value for TVI and its shareholders,” James said.

TVIRD already received an environmental compliance certificate from the Environment Department for the Balabag project. It also received the approval of the social development management program in May 2014.

TVIRD holds 100 percent of the mineral production sharing agreement area covering 4,779 hectares containing the Balabag epithermal gold and silver project.

The project is located in the town of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur province, the Philippines, and is situated 75 kilometers east-northeast of TVIRD’s Canatuan mine. It has indicated mineral resource of 1.78 million tons averaging 2.34 grams per ton gold and 72.3 g/t silver, containing 134,262 ounces of gold and 4,148,196 ounces of silver.

Exploration and development work were put on hold at the Balabag project in 2014, pending the receipt of all permits from the government.


Pre-development work starts at Balabag mine

by James Konstantin Galvez

Manila Times

5 January 2015

The local affiliate of Canadian miner TVI Pacific Inc. reported that it is in the final stage of getting a license and has started onsite construction work at its Balabag gold-silver project in Zamboanga del Sur.

TVI Resources Development Phils., Inc. (TVIRD) said it is working on the final requirements necessary for the approval of its Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The company is expected to submit the complete requirement by end of January 2015, and anticipates to complete the entire permitting process in the first quarter of this year.

“We are very encouraged to be nearing the completion of the permitting process at Balabag,” said Clifford James, chairman and chief executive officer of TVI and Chairman of TVIRD.

“While the process has taken longer than anticipated, it has given our team the time to fully optimize the process flow sheet by conducting thorough pilot plant test work and various other studies to ensure the eventual operation’s success,” James added.

In addition, the executive said that the advancement of the Balabag project serves as another critical stepping stone for TVIRD to secure a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2015.

“This achievement of which could substantially enhance its investment value for TVI and its shareholders,” he added.

While exploration and development work have been put on hold at the Balabag project since mid-2013 pending the receipt of all permits, TVIRD has continued to work on the engineering design for a gold-silver processing plant to process ore onsite.

Basic engineering design has now been completed and detailed design work is underway. TVIRD has also constructed and maintained 16 kilometers of access roads to the project in anticipation of the commencement of construction.

The current indicated mineral resource at Balabag was estimated to be 1.78 million tons averaging 2.34 grams per ton (g/t) gold and 72.3 g/t silver, containing 134,262 ounces of gold and 4,148,196 ounces of silver.

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