MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Indigenous activist 'disappears' in the company of mining guards

Published by MAC on 2015-05-26
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Sun Star, GMA News, Rappler (2015-05-26)

An indigenous campaigner from Mindanao has disappeared while accompanying mining company security guards. John Calaba, a Manobo activist, was last seen with paramilitaries paid to protect DMCI, in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat, and never returned. A fact finding mission has been despatched to search for him, and more information.

Indigenous B'laan leaders have registered a petition to the commissioners of the Government's National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) objecting to activities of its regional offices, which are attempting to pursue a free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) process for Glencore's Tampakan project against the express wishes of the most affected B'laan.

MacroAsia has lost its court appeal against its application to mine at Brooke’s Point, Palawan. The Court upheld the decision of the NCIP that the company's FPIC process was inadequate.

Environmentalists held a protest caravan from Zambales to the capital, calling for an end to mining in the province.

The Archbishop of Batangas joined environmental advocates in opposing a proposed Mindoro Resources Ltd copper-gold project in Lobo.

Another recent court ruling, this one in Benguet in the Cordillera, has allowed Lepanto Consolidated to continue to mine despite an ongoing FPIC dispute over the Far Southeast Project expansion.

A local Subanon Timuay (chief) in Zamboanga del Sur, Rio Olipio Lingating, has condemned a lack of government action against illegal mining activities happening on tribal land.

The Wall Street Journal has recently covered the ongoing opposition of the Mangyan of Mindoro to Intex Resource's proposed nickel mine.

Davao City has joined other local government units in passing a resolution prohibiting large-scale mining operations within its boundaries.

At the national level, the number of shipments of unrefined nickel ore is likely to remain high while a ban on unprocessed nickel exports remains in Indonesia. Yet, in the short term the increased Philippine production has already led to weaker prices and at least some companies to cancel shipments. Many of the companies involved in this type of mining are operating on small-scale licenses. Yet one such firm, SR Metals Inc. (SRMI), shipped nearly 2 million metric tons in one year, despite having a license to only sell 150,000 tons.

Manobo activist disappeared while with Consunji company guards, feared dead

News Release

15 May 2015

An officer of organization Kisasabanay Dulangan Manobo (KIDUMA) was invited inside the Consunji compound in Brgy. Sabanal, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat and never came out.

"We demand from the BS Aquino government to immediately surface John Calaba and hold members of the paramilitary group SCAA (Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary) and Consunji accountable for his disappearance," Lorena Santos, secretary general of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) said.

John Calaba is the Public Information Officer of KIDUMA, an organization opposed to the logging and mining projects of David M. Consunji, Inc (DMCI), which displaced peasants and Manobo tribes away from their farms and ancestral land. The SCAA, created especially for the protection of mining companies, serves as Consunji’s company guards.

In the morning of April 30, 2015, Calaba, 28, was sitting in front of his house at Brgy. Salangsang, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat when members of the Consunji company guards namely, Christopher dela Cruz, Loloy Aquino and Jayjay Cruz approached him. The men invited Calaba to the outpost of Consunji guards at Brgy. Sabanal to eat roasted chicken. Calaba went with them. Prior to the incident, the guards have been persistent in befriending Calaba.

Timoteo Asong, a worker at the water reservoir also owned by the Consunji Company saw Calaba at the outpost eating. Calaba even invited Asong to eat with them. Some 20 minutes later, Asong heard gunfire coming from the outpost. The sporadic gunfire lasted until around 10:00 am.

When the villagers went to the outpost, the guards shouted not to get near claiming there are “enemies” and they might get caught in the crossfire. The villagers were told to go home. At around 10:30 a.m., when the gunfire subsided, Marcial Usong, also a resident at Sitio Salabantaran saw six company guards near the outpost, carrying something wrapped in canvass and was loaded into an elf truck. The elf truck left a trail of blood.

“Residents, however, had the impression there was no real fire fight between the company guards and whomever they considered their enemy,” said Santos. Since April 30, nobody has seen John Calaba come out from said outpost.

“Efforts to get more details on the incident and to check on a report that a resident in a nearby village saw a corpse buried are hampered by the heavy presence of military and company guards,” added Santos.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically the 38th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army, train the members of the SCAA.

Reference: Lorena Santos, secretary general
+639088121982


Lumad, rights groups mount fact-finding mission on disappearance of Manobo activist

By Dennis Arcon

Interaksyon

21 May 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- Indigenous peoples’ and human rights groups have mounted a fact-finding mission to investigate the disappearance of a Manobo activist who was last seen in the company of militiamen guarding a private firm’s compound in the hinterlands of Lebak town, Sultant Kudarat.

Jerom Succor Aba, spokesman of Kawagib, or the Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Human Rights and one of the organizers, said the fact-finding mission began Wednesday and will end on Friday in Sitio Salabantaran, Barangay Salansang where John Calaba, 28, the missing public
information officer of the Manobo organization KIDUMA, lived.

Other members of the mission are the Socsargen chapter of the human rights alliance Karapatan and KIDUMA.

An earlier alert by the rights group Desparecidos said Calaba, whose organization has been opposing the entry of mining and logging operations within their ancestral lands, was last seen on April 30, when he was invited by members of the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary to their outpost at the DM Consunji Inc. compound in Barangay Sabanal, also in Lebak, supposedly to eat roast chicken.

The SCAA is a category of government militia that private firms are allowed to raise for protection.

Desaparecidos feared Calaba may have been killed after a witness reported hearing gunfire from the SCAA outpost and seeing militiamen carrying a bundle wrapped in canvas that they loaded onto a truck.


B’laan leaders submit petition to NCIP en banc, claim illegal activities of regional offices

Tampakan Forum Press Release

27 May 2015

Cagayan de Oro – Leaders of B’laan from Bong Mal in Tampakan, South Cotabato submitted today a position paper to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) en banc against their regional counterparts’ activities to facilitate the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) required for the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

Five leaders went to CDO to request the en banc to immediately order the postponement of any FPIC-related activities in their area.

They explained the different activities by NCIP regions XI and XII to get their consent are confusing the people since they have initially submitted a petition for non-FPIC coverage where they firmly stated their opposition to mining and that will not give consent to the Tampakan mining project. They also highlighted the dubious procedures by NCIP FPIC teams and their violations of B’laan tradition and culture.

“We are not ready for the FPIC processes because of unresolved cases of human rights violations, where three of the victims were my father, Bong Fulong Anting Freay, brother Victor Freay, and my brother-in-law Sonny Boy Planda. This is also one of the many reasons why we are against mining in our territories,” said Eking Freay—also a victim of an ambush in 2013. The deaths were a result of separate attacks by members of the Philippine military, and Task Force KITACO formed to secure the mining project. These are only some of the human rights violations committed in the Bong Mal Bong Banwe B’laan territory.

Regions XI and XII latest activities in line with the Tampakan mining project include level one consultative session for the memorandum of agreement in a hotel in Koronadal City and several other negotiations held in General Santos City. Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and support groups observed that the discussions focused on the demands of the indigenous group and royalties in exchange for their consent.

Their consent is critical to the project holders as 70% of the mining project area is within their territory—Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title 102 (CADT 102), where a large portion of SMI-Xstrata’s open-pit will be developed. The project also affects three other ancestral domains, CADTs 108 and 72 and Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim 74. Thousands of indigenous peoples will be forced to resettle outside their territories.

The NCIP en banc led by Chairperson Leonor Oralde-Quintayo welcomed the indigenous leaders with the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel (SAC Marbel), SOCSKSARGEND CARE and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM). Quintayo said they would look into the case.
 
Fr Joy Pelino, Director of SAC Marbel said: “We call on the NCIP to immediately and judiciously respond to the call of the IP. If activities are pursued this comes out to be a continuous betrayal of the IPs rights and also of NCIP policies—we have yet to be clarified if what should be implemented in Tampakan is the 2006 or the 2012 FPIC Guidelines. And we continuously urge for the clear en banc decision on the matter.

In the end, what we seek is NCIP to be advocates for IP rights and be the voice of the IPs, and not facilitators of mining projects and other development aggressions.”

The NCIP en banc is yet to issue a statement or resolution regarding the B’laan Bong Mal Banwe petition for non-FPIC coverage for the Tampakan mining project submitted last January 2014. The said petition also posts a question on how the NCIP tries to address the readiness of IP communities to engage FPIC processes.

SAC Marbel, SOCSKSARGEND CARE and ATM are part of Tampakan Forum, a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue.

For more information:
Fr. Joy Peliño, SAC Marbel Director, gillarme8[at]gmail.com (0939) 8456373
Rene Pamplona, SOCSKSARGEND CARE Coordinator, renepamplona[at]yahoo.com.ph (0908) 1264530
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy Research & Advocacy Officer, policy[at]alyansatigilmina.net


A Position of the Bong Mal B’laan Bong Banwe in the Conducted Free Prior And Informed Consent (FPIC) and in the Processing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project (TGCP) of the SMI/Glencore-Xstrata

We, as members of the B’laan Community residing in our ancestral territory, the Bong Mal B’laan Bong Banwe situated within the boundaries of the four (4) Provinces: Tampakan, South Cotabato; Kiblawan, Davao del Sur; Columbio, Sultan Kudarat and Malungon Sarangani, strongly states our opposition to the conducted Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) which subsequently resulted in the crafting of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The conducted FPIC and the crafting of this MOA of the FPIC Team of NCIP Regions XI and XII are clear violations of our tradition and even of the FPIC guidelines, for the following reasons:

1. Almost 70% of the land area that is proposed for mining of the SMI is within our territory, the Bong Mal. A thousand of us residing in the area are to be affected compared to the other peripheral areas

2. We [Bong Mal Community] submitted a petition to the NCIP –Manila on January 2014. It was [copy of] our communal decision not to enter to the process of FPIC, not unless clear responses to our presented issues are given. It was Director Gomez himself of the NCIP-Human Rights and Empowerment Bureau validated our petition and yet as of this another petition, there was no clear response from the commission en banc of the NCIP;

3. The FPIC is a vital process that respects the primacy of the tribal traditions and not a process that gives in to the preferences of the company;

4. The NCIP is supposed to be an institution that protects and promotes the rights of the tribe. But an apparent partiality is witnessed when NCIP gave in to the time frame preferences of the company discounting the readiness of the tribe in Bong Mal to undergo the process;

5. Our Tribal Community in the Bong Mal B’laan Bong Banwe is not yet ready to undergo the FPIC process due to our recent traumatic experiences of militarization, murder of our brothers, going through the ordeal of evacuation and loss of hope;

6. The NCIP did not follow and respect our tradition as a B’laan tribe in getting our consent in the mining project;

We deem all of these are violations to our tribal rights:

1. No sufficient time was given for an in-depth discussion that may result in our full understanding of the process;

2. The NCIP did not follow and respect our tradition as a B’laan tribe in getting our consent in the mining project;

3. There was no result of the conducted Field Based Investigation (FBI) was given prior to the conduct of FPIC;

4. Due to the absence of an FBI, there was a misrepresentation in the entire process of the FPIC;

5. The Bong Mal Community was coerced to undergo the process of FPIC.

6. The Conduct of the following activities outside our territory:
a. Community Consultative Assembly held at Datal Biao, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat
b. Freedom Period at the Family Country Homes, General Santos City
c. Decision Meeting at the Family Country Homes, General Santos City

7. Our Bong Fulong, Fulong, Bae o Fandita were not invited during the conduct of the FPIC process, instead only the clan representatives who were injudiciously selected by the chieftain and the NCIP were invited. This is an apparent demonstration of disrespect to our elders.

8. There was an aggression that happened during the first processing of the MOA, an indication that there are ambiguities in the conduct of the FPIC.

With the above premises, we, with our recognized Bong Fulong, Fulong, Bae, Fandita, Almuos and the entire tribe of the B’laan Community residing within the 70% territory of the Bong Mal B’laan Bong Banwe affected by the mining project of the SMI unite in our stand to urge for the following:

1. Consider the conducted FPIC as null and void

2. Stop and totally disregard the processing of the MOA.

3. Appeal to the commission to conduct an investigation as regards the conducted FPIC for the the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project of SMI.

4. Disallow NCIP to conduct any other further activities that is related to FPIC unless there is a result of the investigation.

We continue to wait for the promised resolution of the commission regarding our submitted petition in January 2014.

Our gathered signatures attest to our unity in pushing for the forgoing. Signed this 14th day of May 2015 at the Bong Mal B’laan Bong Banwe.

 


 

300 activists launch anti-mining caravan to Malacanang from Zambales

Mahatma V. Datu

Philippines News Agency

30 April 2015

STA. CRUZ, Zambales - Some 300 environmental activists headed by the Zambales-based people’s organization Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS) will hold a two-day caravan calling on the provincial and national governments to stop all mining activities in the province.

Calling it “Caravan for Justice,” the protesters took off from this town on Wednesday morning and are hoping to reach Mendiola, Manila the next day where an environmental concert will be held.

Aside from the residents from 15 barangays in Zambales, the caravan will also be joined by members of the Mining Workers for Environment Association (MWEA), a local group from Zambales’ mining workforce to push environmental, and business and human rights issues.

AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., (PMPI) and Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA) showed their full support for the two-day caravan.

Among the caravan’s stops are Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 3, DENR National Office, Commission on Human Rights, and Office of the Ombudsman.

Cancel mining contracts

CCOS chairperson Ben Molino said they will ask the government not only to reverse the lifting of the suspension but to call for the total cancellation of existing mining contracts and filing of administrative and civil charges against responsible government officials.

The CCOS which has been deeply involved in anti-mining advocacies in this northernmost town of Zambales and Molino said the Caravan for Justice will go to Malacanang to ask President Benign Aquino III to act on their complaints regarding the continuing destruction of the environment caused by mining operations in the towns of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria.

The group also seeks compensation from the mining companies for the destruction of the means of livelihood of the people here, particularly the farmers, the fishermen, and fishpond owners.

Molino said residents of the affected towns are preparing to file charges against mining companies and some government officials.

The DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in July last year suspended the nickel extraction operations of Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI), LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC) in Sta. Cruz because of unsystematic strip mining methods.

Nickel contamination of seashores, rice fields

Residents of Sta. Cruz have complained of nickel contamination in their seashores and rice fields, saying heavy nickel siltation has been noted in the river systems, farmlands, fishponds, and seashores prompting the government to issue directives to mining companies to remove all stand-by stockpiles in open areas and store them in designated stockpile areas equipped with proper drainage systems.

The suspension orders were issued after an investigation team commissioned by DENR-MGB found evidence pointing to tremendous ecological impact, loss of livelihood of farmers and fishers, and destruction of major road infrastructures due to mining operations.

Permit issued while suspension in effect

However, in December 3, 2014, DENR Region 3 issued an ore transport permit justifying the move as a necessary step for the companies to rehabilitate and compensate the affected communities to prevent disaster.

The permit was issued while the suspension order is still in effect.

On February 10 and 25 this year, DENR Region 3 lifted the suspension orders of the mining companies despite the companies’ failure to rehabilitate the documented damages and deliver full compensation to the affected communities.

“These acts of the Zambales local officials, MGB and DENR both at the regional and national levels shows their indifference to the rights of the farmers and the community, as well as food security, just to serve the interest of the extractive industry,” Rene Dela Cruz, national resident of AMA, said.

“This has to be stopped to be able to ensure that the people of Zambales will not suffer from greater economic devastation,” Dela Cruz said.

“The mining companies were suspended for a reason and that reason is environmental destruction and the damages it brought to the livelihood of the affected communities,” Primo Morillo, advocacy officer of PMPI, said.

"Until now, several hundreds of farmers and fisherfolks are struggling to get back on their feet because of the damages brought by these mining companies.” he added.

Raising the issue before the UN

In a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on right to food, ATM CCOS claimed in an impact assessment that Sta. Cruz town is losing at least 8,000 tons of palay production annually worth P200 million, an estimated loss of P20 million from fish production in three major rivers, and at least P30 million loss from fish production in at least 100-hectare of fishpond because of mining in the area.

Aside from the economic impact mining has brought in Zambales, the organizations also emphasized the ecological downside of the operations in the area.

“The Philippines is consistently included in the list of the most vulnerable countries to impacts of climate change. And as shown in our previous experience in typhoons Pablo and Yolanda, mining exacerbates the impacts of climate change and with our current mining policies the country will only be more susceptible to climate disasters.” said Val de Guzman, energy campaigner of PMCJ.

“The rehabilitation and compensation efforts of the mining companies are inadequate and incomplete, and does not justify the lifting of the suspension orders, so there is no compelling reason for the government to lift the suspension orders,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.

“We call on MGB, DENR, and the Office of the President to uphold the suspension orders until such time full rehabilitation and complete compensation is covered. This is the only way that government can prove it can effectively implement our mining policies and that its regulatory powers are effective.” he added.


Environment activists call for revocation of all mining permits in Zambales

GMA Network

2 May 2015

Rejecting "government excuses" over continued large-scale mining operations in Zambales, anti-mining groups held a two-day caravan to dramatize their call for the immediate cancellation of all mining permits in the province and justice to all communities affected by destructive, extractive activities.

“We already heard all possible explanations and promises that ideally could help us bring justice to the citizens of Zambales and our environment,” said Dr. Ben Molino, chairperson of Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS), during the caravan held from April 29 to 30.

“We are demanding from the government to totally revoke the lifting of the suspension order and cancel all mining permits in the area..., otherwise they will be seeing and hearing more from us,” he added.

On the second and last day of the caravan, some 300 environmental activists from Zambales and supporters from Metro Manila pushed through with their scheduled activities that highlighted the two-day protest activity.

On April 30 the caravan made stops at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) national office and the Commission on Human Rights office, both in Quezon City.

At every stop, the participants held short programs calling for a stop to large-scale mining operations in the province. They then proceeded to the Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang for their culminating activity.

Last Friday night, the group camped out in front of the DENR office.

The caravan that began in Zambales, was spearheaded by the CCOS and supported by national groups Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA).

During the caravan, the groups had a dialogue with Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno and other DENR officials.

Representative Barry Gutierrez of AKBAYAN and Fr. Edu Gariguez of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines joined the activity.

According CCOS, their call against mining operations stemmed from the environmental destruction in Zambales that mining firms brought about.

On the other hand, the anti-mining advocates are planning to file complaints against local government officials for their "negligence," and for turning a blind eye on environmental destruction and violations by mining companies of the economic, cultural and social rights of the people of Zambales.

“The resumption of mining operations in Zambales is a blatant violation of people’s rights to a balanced healthful environment, glossing over the failure of the companies to rehabilitate the mining-affected areas.” said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary General of SANLAKAS.

Meanwhile, representatives from the environment sector demanded environmental justice from Malacañang.

“We must strive to bring justice to Zambales, to its citizens and the environment,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM's national coordinator.

“Aside from demanding justice from MGB, DENR and the Office of the President, we also demand for accountability and their full commitment to the development and welfare of Zambales,” he added.

The caravan ended up with a cultural concert held at Mendiola, where the group had camped out to join labor groups the following day for Labor Day observance. — Jerbert Briola/LBG, GMA News


Environmental Groups & Advocates Stage Protest in the Pending Mining at Lobo, Batangas

Batangas Bishop and environmentalist walk-out of dialogue, vow to continue protest against large-scale mining

BUKAL & Kalikasan PNE - ST Press Release

21 May 2015

Lobo, Batangas - “Back off Mindoro Resource Limited! We will not wait for another disaster caused by these mining activities in our province,” said Peti Enriquez, Secretary General of Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL), a network of environmental advocates that work collectively towards the protection of the province and its natural resources from destructive activities, programs and project.

BUKAL along with KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) – Southern Tagalog stood against large-scale foreign mining during the public hearing of Mindoro Resources Limited and Egerton Limited for their Copper-Gold Mining Project happened today at Punta Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas.

“Large-scale foreign mining results to environmental plunder by these foreign mining companies. They deceived the people of its promised basic developments of providing jobs and improvement of livelihood but loomed destruction of the environment, loss of livelihood, displacement of communities and caused health complications,” stressed by PJ Santos, coordinator of Kalikasan PNE-ST.

The groups denounce the endorsement of the local government of Lobo in letting foreign mining companies continue their operations in spite of protests and resolutions filed by the people to stop mining in the province. They were also dismayed by the continuous silence of the provincial government in the issue of mining playing safe around the fingers of these foreign mining companies and the stand of the people against mining.

“The permission of our government to let these foreign mining companies use our land and resources for mining is a direct violation of our constitution, a violation to our national sovereignty,” added by Enriquez.

During the public hearing, the Archdiocese of Batangas stood firmly against extractive and destructive projects like mining. Fr. Dakila Ramos, director of Archdiocesan Ministry on Environment reiterates that the church led by Archbishop Ramon Arguelles calls for the unity of the people to oppose and stop mining activities in the province

The groups will continue their activities and mobilizations in the advancement of their anti-mining campaign in the province.

Reference Persons:
Peti Enriquez - 09052711334 - Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL)
PJ Santos - 09481134860 - Kalikasan PNE – Southern Tagalog


Court of Appeals upholds NCIP, thumbs down MacroAsia’s Palawan mining bid

by Leonard Postrado

Manila Bulletin

4 May 2015

The Court of Appeals (CA) has thumbed down the bid of Lucio Tan-owned MacroAsia Corporation to conduct mining operation covering 1,113.98 hectares located at Sitio Linao, Brooke’s Point, Palawan.

In an 18-page decision penned by Associate Justice Danton Bueser, the CA’s Special Sixteenth Division upheld the validity of the resolution issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) denying MacroAsia’s application for issuance of a certification precondition necessary for the latter to proceed with the extraction activities at Brooke’s Point.

The appellate court agreed with the NCIP that “exploration” and “mining operation and development” are separate activities, although related, that must undergo separate processes.

“By failure to conduct a separate field (tests) based on investigation on the part of MacroAsia prior to the extraction stage of its mining operation, the NCIP, thus, correctly denied MacroAsia’s application for issuance of certification precondition,” the CA ruled.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas, Jr. and Edwin Sorongon.

It can be recalled that on December 1, 2005, a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) was executed between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and MacroAsia covering barangays Maasin, Mambalot and Ipilan.

The primary purpose of the sharing agreement was “to provide for the national exploration, development and commercial utilization of certain nickel, chromite, iron and other associated mineral deposits existing within the contract area.

The NCIP subsequently issued a compliance certificate in favor of MacroAsia.

In 2006, MacroAsia proceeded with the mining exploration activities and discovered and identified more than 80 million tons of nickel laterite deposits.

Thus, the mining firm applied for permits, licenses and clearances for the next phase of the mining cycle, which is extraction activities.

MacroAsia also had to secure the certification precondition for NCIP aside from the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

On April 28, 2010, the NCIP Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) Team recommended the issuance of the certification for precondition noting the overwhelming approval of the Palawan tribes and the directly affected areas of the mining operations.

However, despite the findings of the FPIC Team as well as the concurrence of the NCIP Validation Team, the NCIP en banc denied MacroAsia’s application for certification for pre-condtion.

The NCIP noted that despite compliance by MacroAsia with the legal requirement in connection with its application for certification for precondition, such compliance was inadequate and insufficient.

In affirming the NCIP’s decision, the CA held that “MacroAsia’s position that the NCIP did not take into account the findings and recommendations of its subordinates in assessing Macro Asia’s compliance of the requirements paving the way for the denial of the latter’s application for mining operation, does not hold water.”

“At any rate, Macro Asia’s admission that no new investigation was conducted to determine the extent of the affected area on their proposed operation for the extraction of the mineral deposits they discovered during the exploration stage, gives more reason for this Court to deny the present petition,” the CA added.


Davao City large-scale mining ban, hailed as 'people's victory'

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

8 May 2015

Environmental groups hailed as a 'people's victory' the Davao City Council's recently passed resolution prohibiting large-scale mining operations in its areas, but said there are still vulnerabilities in the policy that communities must vigilantly keep in check.

"The Davao City mining ban is a fruit of the people's tireless struggles to oppose destructive large-scale mining projects, but its punitive fines are too miniscule to effectively discourage violators. From this point on, we must continue advocating for the passage of the People's Mining Bill in Congress for the long-term reorientation of the entire mining industry towards the sustainable path of national industrialization," said Prof. Kim Gargar, spokesperson of local environmental network Panalipdan - Southern Mindanao.

Nine city councilors voted to approve the ordinance, while two voted in the negative and five abstained.

"The Davao City Mining Ban is the latest local opposition to the national government's continuing large-scale mining offensive at the policy level. It is a testament to the people's rejection of top-down pro-big mining policy impositions such as Pres. Noynoy Aquino's Executive Order 79, which sought to override local opposition. We have to be watchful, as EO 79 will most likely be cited to strike down this people's victory," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

At least 12 provincial and city governments have already declared ban on large-scale mining in their areas such as Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Puerto Princesa City, Marinduque, Romblon, Guimaras, Capiz, Albay, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar and Negros Occidental.

This policy is expected to affect a number of mining companies attempting to enter possible rich mineral deposits in the city. Based on Mines and Geosciences Bureau, there are at least two known mine exploration projects in the city, namely the Alberto Mining Corp. which covers 8100.00 hectares in Paquibato District, and the application of Pensons Mining Corp. which covers 8100.00 in Malabog, Calinan District. MRC Allied, a mining company owned by businessman Bitanga and Lucio Tan Jr., is also known to be interested in exploring Paquibato.

"Dabawenyos must be ready to defend the mining ban even as we seek to further improve its provisions. Davao City mining ban sets a national precedent for other local governments to gather political will to develop their local economy while at the same time opposing large-scale mining plunder. This is why we are all challenged to enact a new national mining law to scrap the anti-people, pro-plunder Mining Act of 1995 and EO 79, and to immediately enact meaningful reforms in our mining industry and policy regime," said Bautista.

Progressive legislators in the House of Representatives under the Makabayan Bloc are leading the charge for a new mining policy, with their filing of House Bill 171 or the People's Mining Bill earlier in 2013.

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756
E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net
Site: www.kalikasan.net


Mining operations banned in Davao City

Arianne Caryl N. Casas

Sun Star

5 May 2015

DAVAO - The Davao City Council passed on final reading Tuesday an ordinance, banning mining operations in the city, with nine councilors voting in affirmative, two against and five abstentions.

Councilor Diosdado Mahipus went out of the hall during the nominal voting and the rest were absent.

Councilors Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz, Joanne Bonguyan, Leah Librado-Yap, April Dayap, Joselle Villafuerte, Bernard Al-ag, Leo Avila, Danilo Dayanghirang, and Petite Principe-Castrodes supported the ordinance.

Those who voted "no" were Councilors Jimmy Dureza and Bonifacio Militar. Councilors Nilo Abellera Jr., Al Ryan Alejandre, Victorio Advincula Jr., Marissa Abella, and Rachel Zozobrado abstained.

Meanwhile, Councilors Edgar Ibuyan Sr., Halila Sudagar, Louie John Bonguyan, January Duterte, Tomas Monteverde IV, Mabel Acosta, and Karlo Bello were on leave.

Councilor Rene Elias Lopez was the temporary presiding officer since Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte was on leave.

The ordinance disallows any entity to engage in any business involving mining operations within Davao City.

Section 5 states that "no approval shall be granted or issued by the city through its Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council) to any person, natural or juridical, to undertake any and all forms of mining operation in any area within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City, except rocks and mineral substances classified under the quarry resources."

Anyone found guilty will be charged with administrative, civil or criminal cases with one year of imprisonment or a fine of P5,000.

Avila and Dayanghirang sponsors and co-sponsors the proposed ordinance, respectively. (Sun.Star Davao)


Davao City plan to ban mining faces constitutional challenge

By Carmencita A. Carillo, Correspondent

Business World online

4 May 2015

DAVAO CITY -- A proposed ordinance that bans mining within this city’s territory, passed on second reading last week, has been challenged on constitutional grounds as well as its potential to deprive the local government of much-needed revenue.

When passed, the local law will prohibit all mining activities except quarrying, defined in the draft as “any common rock or other mineral substance that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau may declare as quarry resources”, and other nonmetallic minerals such as clay, limestone and sand.

Vicente T. Lao, president of the Alliance of Responsible Miners in Region 11 and owner of a construction firm, said the proposed law will again be discussed by his organization this month although the alliance has already expressed its position to the city council.

“It will take the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. We will discuss it in our monthly meeting in May,” said Mr. Lao, who is also chair of the Mindanao Business Council.

The Philippine mining sector is regulated under Republic Act 7942, “Instituting a New System of Mineral Resources Exploration, Development, Utilization and Conservation”, signed in 1995.

Lawyer Erwin M. Enad, chief of the Regional Legal Service of the Department of Interior and Local Government, also said a total mining ban will not be in conformity with national law.

Mr. Lao added that a well-regulated mining industry would provide advantageous to the city.

“I believe the council made a mistake in banning this economic activity which can bring employment and economic benefit to the city... it provides very substantial revenue. You can regulate mining but there is no need to ban it,” he said.

During the voting, 11 councilors voted in favor of the proposal, one abstained, one was opposed, and three were not present at the session hall.

Councilor Leonardo Avila III, chair of the city council’s environment committee, asserted that a local ordinance could deny the issuance of local permits that are a prerequisite to mining operations.

“The national law provides a mechanism for consultation with the LGU (local government unit). This is where we put forward the policy,” Mr. Avila said.

Among the local requirements is a Certificate of No Objection from the local council.

“As a matter of policy, the Sanggunian will not give that certification,” Mr. Avila said.

The total mining ban ordinance, originally proposed by Councilor Danilo C. Dayanghirang when he was chair of the committee on environment, has been subjected to another set of hearings under Mr. Avila.

Mr. Dayanghirang said it is up to the court to decide on the legality of the ordinance.

For his part, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte maintains his anti-mining stance but agrees that the legal aspect “is a gray area” since the local government cannot overrule national policy. However, he did agree with Mr. Avila that prospective mining companies would have to contend with local policies.

The exclusion of sand, gravel and limestone extraction from the ban is in consideration of the requirements of the city’s robust construction sector.

However, quarrying remains prohibited in areas covered by the Davao City Watershed Ordinance. Davao has eight watershed areas straddled by major rivers: Sibulan, Lipadas, Talomo, Tamugan, Cugan, Suawawan, Matina, and Bunawan.


Subanen leader decries govt inaction vs 'rampant' illegal mining in Zamboanga del Sur

Philippine News Agency

7 May 2015

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur - A chieftain of the Subanen tribe expressed alarm over what he called the rampant intrusion of illegal miners within their ancestral domain in Pagadian City and the nearby towns of Sominot and Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur as he accused government agencies of inaction.

Timuay Langhap Rio Olipio Lingating said there has been no response to a resolution they had passed addressed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and other concerned agencies into their territory, which is covered by a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.

The ancestral domain of the Pikumpungan Gataw Tebed Inc., which Lingating represents, encompasses Barangays Lourdes, La Suerte, Dampalan, Deborok and Lower Sibatang in Pagadian; Barangays Datagan, Bag-ong Baroy, Lumangoy, Picturan, and Sawa in Sominot; and Barangays Noboran, Cogonan, Binayan, and Langapod in Labangan.

Lingating said illegal mining is particularly rampant in Barangay Lourdes while a processing plant has been constructed in Barangay Deborok.

“Miners come and go but the Subanens will remain and stay forever in these areas because this is what we call our home, our ancestral domain handed to us by our forebears. We have to protect it at all cost. If they will not heed our call to stop, we will find ways to make them stop,” Lingating said.

He voiced suspicion that “powerful personalities” may be backing the illegal miners.


Duterte: Ban on mining to remain in Davao City

Germelina Lacorte

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10 May 2015

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is standing by a ban on mining here as he lauded the city council for coming up with a resolution that effectively legislated the ban.

Duterte said no mining company has dared enter the city in the last 20 years because of the City Hall’s stance against mining.

“I am putting you on notice,” Duterte told prospective mining companies during the Sunday television program Gikan sa masa, para sa masa.

“I don’t want you here,” he said, adding he has been opposing mining here due to the social costs that communities would have to pay.

“Lives become so cheap as people fight over the minerals underground,” he said.

The City Council passed on May 5, the resolution that enacted the mining ban. Section 5 of the Ordinance states, “No approval shall be granted or issued by the city through its Sangguniang Panglungsod to any person, natural or juridical, to undertake any and all forms of mining operation in any area within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City, except rocks and mineral substances classified under the quarry.”

But the local legislation creates legal challenges to the national government, which grants foreign companies the right to have a 100-per cent stake in mining under the 1995 Mining Act, a controversial legislation, which continues to be challenged before the Supreme Court.

“An ordinance cannot be greater than a national law,” Duterte acknowledged. The mayor, however, noted that that mining companies have been attacked by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in areas where they have been operating.

He also warned against the penchant of mining companies to arm their security guards with high-powered firearms such as M14 and M16, saying that doing so would only help the NPAs amass more firearms. “The problem with the mining companies, they usually arm their security guards to the teeth, but security guards are only there to make a living, they’re not there to die for a war, so those high-powered firearms will only end up in the hands of the NPA,” Duterte said. SFM/AC


Mining Companies in Philippines Face Many Travails

Red tape, opposition from indigenous people mar efforts to fulfill country’s mining potential

By Trefor Moss

Wall Street Journal

12 May 2015

MINDORO, The Philippines—The island’s name means “gold mine” in Spanish, but it was nickel that was ultimately found in the mountains of Mindoro two decades ago.

Since then, like so many Philippine mining ventures, the proposed Mindoro Nickel project roughly 100 miles south of Manila has struggled to break ground because of onerous red tape and opposition from the indigenous people who inhabit these remote highlands.

Intex Resources AS A, the Norwegian company licensed to mine the nickel, secured a key environmental permit last month, clearing one of many regulatory hurdles, but still faces the uphill task of persuading the local Mangyan tribe to endorse the project.

“We want things to stay as they are,” said Lonito Dasa, a community leader. “We don’t want mining to threaten our way of life.” Indigenous peoples like the Mangyan have special rights under Philippine law that would make it hard for a project like Mindoro to go ahead without their approval.

The travails of Intex are symptomatic of a Philippine mining sector that has always struggled to fulfill its potential. The country has a $1.4 trillion trove of untapped mineral reserves, including gold, copper and nickel, according to industry estimates, yet mining contributed just 0.7% of national gross domestic product in 2013—comparing with 8.3% for South Africa that year.

Even the generally pro-business administration of President Benigno Aquino has restricted the mining industry, imposing a moratorium on new mining permits three years ago. It is now proposing to lift the moratorium, but also to levy higher taxes on newly approved mines and on mines where permits are renewed.

That “would make mining uncompetitive,” said Nelia Halcon, executive vice president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, deterring new mines and driving operational ones out of business. Intex, for example, would potentially face higher taxes after its existing permit expires. Congress is deliberating the proposed tax changes.

The Philippines already has a dismal reputation among mining professionals, who last year rated its mining policy framework the second-worst in the world, behind only Honduras, according to a poll by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank.

It is an image the Philippine government rejects.

“The mining industry is performing well,” said Leo Jasareno, director of the Mines & Geosciences Bureau, the government agency that manages the country’s mineral resources. The Philippines produced metals worth $3.1 billion last year, a record, Mr. Jasareno said, and was the world’s top nickel producer, contributing more than 18% of global supply.

The Aquino administration supports mining, Mr. Jasareno said—but only responsible, sustainable mining that benefits local communities and the nation. Even so, under its new tax system, the government’s share of revenue over the lifetime of a mine would increase to between 64% and 72% from 59% today.

Only one of the 44 commercial mines operating here is foreign-owned: the Dipidio Mine, a gold-copper mine in northern Luzon operated by Australia’s OceanaGold Corp. Five more proposed foreign-owned mines are stuck in limbo, Ms. Halcon said, including the $5.9 billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, which is majority-owned by Anglo-Swiss giant Glencore PLC. Most foreign miners, such as Intex, take the easier option of minority ownership and work with a Philippine partner, she said.

Dipidio started producing two years ago, 19 years after the Philippine government first licensed the project. OceanaGold Chief Executive Mick Wilkes, who has worked on mines across the Asia-Pacific region, said complex application procedures and intense antimining sentiment make the Philippines an unusually tough market.

“It’s easier to show people the benefits once you get into production,” Mr. Wilkes said, adding that half of Dipidio’s 1,800 employees are drawn from the local community.

The proposed Mindoro Nickel project would bring similar benefits, said Joselito Bacani, president of Intex Resources Philippines, promising the company would invest up to $2.5 billion in the project, create more than 10,000 jobs and help local communities develop.

But in the mountains of Mindoro, the locals are skeptical about promises of economic benefits and environmental safeguards.

The Mangyan people who live here in scattered villages are descendants of this island’s original inhabitants, but today number only a 10th of its 1.3 million population, making them doubly protective of their traditional way of life.

“We don’t believe we’ll be the ones to benefit, we won’t get the jobs [the mine creates],” said Simo Rubin, a community leader in Mayba village, situated on mountain slopes beneath the proposed mine. “If we let them exploit our lands, the next generation will have nowhere to go.”

Indigenous peoples like the Mangyan have special rights under Philippine law. They are entitled to at least 1% of the revenue from mining projects in their territory. Intex has committed to paying that, Mr. Bacani said, and will also rehouse the hundreds of people who would need to be relocated from the sparsely populated concession area.

Like indigenous people across the Philippines, the Mangyan have been fighting for years to secure titles to their ancestral lands to legitimize their ownership. They have so far obtained titles to two areas, including the mountainous interior which Intex wants to mine. The titles were signed by Mr. Aquino himself in 2010 and 2013, in theory guaranteeing Mangyan control.

“We feel protected by the title, but we still fear for the future,” said Mr. Dasa, who remains worried future governments may not respect the title Mr. Aquino signed.

Indeed, Mr. Jasareno said the Philippine central government could still override local opposition. “The Constitution says the state owns the minerals: The state must be the one to have the final say,” he said.

Mr. Bacani said Intex is working to secure the backing of regional authorities and local residents in an attempt to clear the way for mining to start. Mindoro Nickel still has “robust economics,” he said, even though nickel prices have more than halved since 2011, and despite the proposed tax increase.

But the mountain folk will never agree, Mr. Rubin said. “It doesn’t matter to us how much wealth is down there: our ancestral land is priceless.”

Write to Trefor Moss at Trefor.Moss[at]wsj.com


Ruling on Lepanto permit

By Maria Elena Catajan

Sun Star.com Baguio

24 May 2015

THE government cannot shut down Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation's gold mining operations in Benguet while a court case is pending, a mining official has admitted.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Mines and Geosciences Bureau is insisting that Lepanto cannot operate because its mining contract in Benguet expired in March.

But the mining firm contested the MGB order before a Makati City court and the court ruled that Lepanto can continue its operations until dispute over the renewal of its contract is resolved by an arbitration council.

"We cannot do anything. The courts have directed us to allow them to operate," MGB regional head Faye Apil said.

Lepanto has mines in Victoria and Teresa in Benguet, but its 25-year Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for the Victoria mine has expired.

Apil said there is an impasse over whether Lepanto needs to acquire a Free Prior and Informed Consent from the community to be able to renew its contract.

"The MGB said yes, they need another FPIC," Apil said.

But Lepanto is arguing that the law, which requires an FPIC under the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA), does not apply to it because the company obtained its contract seven years before the law was enacted in 1997.

"We are waiting for the decision of the arbitration council. We hope it will be out by the end of the month," Apil said.

Being disputed is the Far Southeast Project, which Lepanto is developing with its South African partner Far South East Gold Resources Inc.

While seeking arbitration, Lepanto plans to convert portions of the MPSA into a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), allowing Gold Fields to acquire majority stake in the copper-gold project.

Lepanto owns 60 percent of FSP, with the remaining 40 percent owned by Gold Fields.

MPSAs are granted to mining firms which have at least 60-percent local ownership, while Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement allows 100-percent foreign ownership.

FSGRI Site Manager Peter Dunkley had asked the provincial board to endorse the project, after getting the nod of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) through a Free Prior and Informed Consent from the Mankayan community.


Mining firm finance officer abducted in Tawi-Tawi

Inquirer Mindanao

4 May 2015

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A finance officer of a mining company was abducted in Bongao town in Tawi-Tawi on Sunday night.

Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali confirmed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer the abduction of Priscillano Garcia, a resident of Bayambang, Pangasinan, who has been working as a finance officer of the Tumbagaan Languyan Mining Company, which is owned by the lawmaker.

Garcia just had dinner at the Beachside Inn Hotel and Restaurant in Sowang Kagang village and was heading home when four men took him, according to a police report.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, the city police director, said based on the report his office received from the PNP in Bongao, Garcia was forcibly taken by four armed men in camouflage.

Sahali said they were still awaiting word from the abductors. SFM/AU


Philippine mining regulator cautious on nickel prices

Reuters

27 April 2015

MANILA - The Philippines' mining industry regulator said on Monday two new nickel mines would help boost production of the country's top metal export this year, but prices may remain weak amid tepid demand from top consumer China.

The Southeast Asian country was last year's biggest nickel ore supplier to China's producers of nickel pig iron, used in stainless steel production, after previous top supplier Indonesia banned exports of unprocessed metallic minerals.

Leo Jasareno, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said nickel output this year should rise with the entry of the Libjo and Agata mines in the south.

"These new nickel mining projects are expected to boost the 2015 nickel production of the country, with the expected mine output of Libjo and Agata about 714,000 dry metric tons and 1,360,000 dry metric tons respectively," he said in a statement.

Average nickel prices rose 11.6 percent last year to $7.56 per pound, boosting the value of the country's overall metallic output to a record high 137.53 billion pesos ($3.1 billion), MGB data released on Monday showed.

Nickel accounted for 58 percent, or nearly 80 billion pesos, of overall output last year. In terms of volume, nickel direct shipping ore rose 20 percent to 30.2 million dry metric tons while mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide jumped 91 percent to 87,280 dry metric tons.

"Looking ahead, 2015 nickel prices are not anticipated to revert back to the double-digit levels set in 2011, given the sufficient inventory, new supplies coming on stream and weaker demand in the market, particularly involving China," Jasareno said.

The Libjo project of Libjo Mining Corp and the Agata project of TVI Resources Development Inc, which is partly owned by Canada's TVI Pacific Inc, are located in Surigao province, a major nickel-producing region supplying ore to processing plants in Australia, China, South Korea and Japan.

Gold output last year rose 7 percent to 18,423 kg, while copper fell 7 percent to 349,269 dry metric tonnes, the MGB said.

The Philippines sits on mineral reserves worth $1.4 trillion, among the world's biggest, but mining accounts for less than 1 percent of GDP as development is hampered by policy bottlenecks and a strong anti-mining lobby led by the Roman Catholic Church. (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Alan Raybould)


Philippines nickel shipments to remain high this year - top miner

by Eric Onstad

Reuters

30 April 2015

LONDON - The Philippines' top nickel producer expects this year's ore shipments from the country to remain at similar levels to those that unexpectedly filled a gap in supply in 2014, weighing on prices.

Nickel ore exports from the Philippines soared last year, surprising many investors who had expected big shortages after Indonesia banned unprocessed ore exports.

Some analysts and investors have questioned whether the country can maintain its strong exports, but Koichi Ishihara, of Nickel Asia Corp, said on Wednesday that ore shipments are likely to reach 43 million tonnes this year, down only slightly from last year's 44 million tonnes.

"Middle-grade nickel ore is the main driver for the increase in exports and we estimate further growth in 2015," Ishihara told the Metal Bulletin Nickel Conference in London.

Exports of middle and high-grade ore jumped 176 percent last year to 24.3 million tonnes, added the marketing and procurement vice president at Nickel Asia, which is partly owned by Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co 5713.T and is the Philippines' biggest nickel producer with four operating mines.

Benchmark nickel prices CMNI3 on the London Metal Exchange (LME) last year spiked more than 50 percent by May, but then gave up the gains as the Philippines boosted shipments and LME inventories rose to record peaks.

Nickel slid to a low of $12,205 a tonne this month, the weakest in nearly six years and down by about a fifth since the end of 2014.

Ishihara expects low-grade ore exports to decline this year but overall tonnage to remain largely flat.

Ore from the Philippines and Indonesia mainly supply China's nickel pig iron (NPI) sector, which is used in the production of stainless steel and as a cheaper alternative for refined nickel and ferro-nickel in China.

Healthy exports of ore from the Philippines will allow China's NPI sector to avoid the full impact of the Indonesian ban this year, another speaker told the conference.

Bullish nickel investors had counted on the NPI sector to be squeezed by a shortage of ore, helping to drive up prices.

If Philippine exports remain steady, that, together with inventories, would be sufficient to supply China's NPI sector, said Krizstina Kalman-Schueler, managing director of DMM Advisory Group.

Inventories were built up ahead of Indonesia's ore ban, but they have been declining steadily.

"The impact of the declining Chinese ore stocks will only be felt in 2016," Kalman-Schueler said.

High-grade nickel ore stocks at Chinese ports have run down to about 5 million tonnes from 20 million tonnes, Macquarie senior consultant Jim Lennon said.


Philippines' Agata Mining cuts May nickel ore exports due to weak prices, demand

Reuters

5 May 2015

MANILA - Nickel miner Agata Mining Ventures Inc (AMVI), partly owned by Canada's TVI Pacific Inc, has cancelled three of four ore shipments due to be exported in May from its mine in the Philippines, TVI said, citing depressed prices and low demand.

The Southeast Asian country was the biggest supplier of ore in 2014 to Chinese producers of nickel pig iron, used in stainless steel production, following a move by Indonesia to halt exports of unprocessed ore.

The boost in Philippine supply punctured a more than 50 percent rally in London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel prices, sending prices to six-year lows last month, although prices have since pared losses due to a weaker dollar.

"While AMVI has made great strides in ramping up production capacity in the last few months, the extreme volatility in Philippine nickel laterite prices has necessitated a high level of flexibility in our operations," TVI Chairman and CEO Clifford James said in a regulatory filing.

TVI did not disclose the total volume for the three cancelled shipments. Agata supplies ore to processing plants in Australia, China, South Korea and Japan.

Earlier this year it said ore shipments from Agata's mine in Surigao province in southern Philippines in 2015 would likely be more than 2.5 million wet metric tonnes.

Agata, which is also partly owned by TVI's local affiliate, TVI Resource Development, has so far exported 641,361 WMT of limonite ore and 60,369 WMT of saprolite ore this year.

"AMVI is closely monitoring market conditions and will continue adjusting its shipment schedule as necessary to ensure continued operational profitability," TVI said.

TVI Resource Development may push back a planned initial public offering to next year if metal prices remain depressed, James said last month.

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Richard Pullin)


Small scale? P28B in ore shipped out

Firm owned by LP backer had permit to extract only 150,000 MT a year

Danilo Adorador III

Inquirer Mindanao

7 May 2015

SURIGAO CITY—Government records showed that nearly 2 million metric tons of nickel ore worth billions of pesos was extracted by a controversial mining firm in Tubay, Agusan del Norte province, whose politically connected owners are being publicly accused of plunder but have not been formally charged or investigated.

SR Metals Inc. (SRMI) and its subsidiary firms, San R Mining and Galeo Equipment and Mining Corp., shipped some 1.8 million MT of nickel from August 2006 to September 2007, according to records obtained by the Inquirer from the Philippine Ports Authority and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

The figure, critics said, represented a colossal disparity with what SRMI and its sister companies—then operating as small-scale mines—were allowed to extract and sell: 50,000 MT each per year, or 150,000 MT combined annual output for the three firms.

But after years of litigation and what many perceived as a slap-on-the-wrist penalty, SRMI paid P7 million in fines for over-extraction in 2007. No government agency has yet taken SRMI and its sister companies to court for the massive shipment of ore, which amounted roughly to P28 billion.

Appropriate time

Reached for comment, SRMI vice president for public and media affairs Ryan Anthony Culima said the company would respond to “these issues” at an appropriate time.

Last year, the Supreme Court rejected SRMI’s interpretation of the ore extraction limit. SRMI insisted that the 50,000-MT limit pertained to nickel and cobalt minerals in their purest form and excluded soil and other materials.

Upholding an earlier decision by the Court of Appeals (CA), the high court described SRMI’s interpretation as destructive to the environment.

Lawyer Elvin Grana, a legal counsel for a Butuan City-based businessman who is suing SRMI for a separate case involving royalty payments, said the Supreme Court ruling became final last month when the high court issued an entry of judgment.

What’s lacking?

“For all intents and purposes, the Supreme Court has decided on this case with finality,” Grana told the Inquirer on the phone from his office in Manila. “What’s lacking here is making SRMI accountable.”

Grana recalled that his client, Rodney Basiana, had filed a case in the Ombudsman seeking an investigation into SRMI and its owners for plunder. Filed in late 2006, he said, the case was shelved by the Ombudsman because the Department of Justice (DOJ) then issued a legal opinion favoring SRMI’s interpretation of the ore extraction limit.

Reached for comment, Basiana, who asserts that SRMI owes him more than P1 billion in royalties being the original claimant of the SRMI mine site, said the recent Supreme Court decision should pave the way for the Ombudsman to resume its investigation into SRMI.

Environmental advocates in Caraga Region voiced the same call.

Rev. Peter Vargas, coconvenor of environment group Caraga Watch, said they were willing to intervene in the SRMI case as interested parties “if no one dares to confront this powerful mining company.”

Powerful foe

But Vargas and Basiana, the businessman, admitted that taking on SRMI was an uphill battle, noting that the company’s owners were known supporters of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).

“I am now starting to believe the boast of Mr. Eric Gutierrez that he is malakas with the Liberal Party, particularly with Secretary Mar Roxas,” Basiana said. “Or is it that Erice is an influential member of the LP?”

Basiana was referring to SRMI chief executive officer Francis Enrico “Eric” Gutierrez and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice—an LP stalwart—who was listed as the firm’s president when the plunder complaint was filed. Erice has said he had divested himself of his shares in the company.

Former SRMI employees said Gutierrez bankrolled President Aquino’s 2010 campaign in Northern Mindanao, and was appointed LP head in Caraga Region for a time. Gutierrez was also described in media reports as the owner of the helicopter used to take pictures of the so-called “Hacienda Binay” of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Vargas of Caraga Watch said the connections were too glaring to ignore.

“Nothing has been done. Is it because the owners are closely affiliated with the Liberal Party?” Vargas said.


Mining expansion bids turned over to MGB

By Czeriza Valencia

The Philippine Star

1 May 2015

MANILA, Philippines - The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has transferred to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) the task of validating the applications for expansion of areas filed by operating miners.

The transfer from the MICC Technical Working Group on Environmental Protection and Legislation (TWG-EPL) to the MGB is designed to expedite the approvals process.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now allowing operating mines to expand their contract areas provided these are proven to have viable economic reserves.

The DENR, through the recommendation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued last year Administrative Order (AO) 2014-06 providing for the expansion of areas of existing mines with viable economic deposits subject to validation by the MICCthrough its Technical Working Group on Environmental Protection which the MGB is part of.

The order was issued in consideration of a number of operating mines in the country that need to expand in existing contract areas to sustain operations.

Recognizing the limitations of the MICC technical working group due to lack of technical capability among others, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje resolved to transfer the validation function to the MGB regional office (RO) covering the application.

“The MGB RO will conduct field verification while the MGB central office will approve the application, if warranted,” said the MGB.

MGB director Leo Jasareno earlier said that operations of existing mines with dwindling resources can be expanded provided the expansion area applied for is adjacent to the contract area or is situated within the immediate vicinity such as a municipality.

He said a declaration of mining project pre-feasibility (DMPF) should be submitted for the expansion of areas to prove the economic viability of deposits.

The new regulation applies to existing contract areas covered by mineral production and sharing agreements (MPSA) as well as Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA).

As the new mining policy bans the issuance of new mining contracts pending the legislation of a new taxation scheme for the extractive industry, the new mining areas would be considered an expansion of the existing MPSA and FTAA areas.

While allowing expansion of existing contract areas, the MGB would still observe the area limitation of a maximum of 8,000 hectares per mining company in the province it is operating in and a maximum of 16,000 hectares nationwide.

Jasareno said this is the government’s way of protecting investments and making sure that responsible mining companies will have continuity in their operations.

Section 7 of the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the new mining policy 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.

The issuance of an order came at a time when several operating mines begin suffering from dwindling resources that threaten to put a stop to operations.


Mining group airs concerns against new DENR order

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Manila Bulletin

13 May 2015

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines is set to address their position against the newly issued order of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which orders all mining contractors to secure an ISO 14001 certification within one year from its issuance.

DENR Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2015-07, which was signed and published recently, draws serious concern among the mining industry leaders due to the apparent haste by which it was issued.

The group said the order was signed without the usual public consultations that usually comes before administrative orders of its nature with serious implications particularly to new operations that are starting to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS).

DENR, according to Chamber of Mines, should review and clarify the implementation order because it only mandates holders of valid Mineral Agreements (MAs) and Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) to secure an ISO 14001 certification.

“We expect the meeting to be set immediately before the 15-day prescriptive period after the publication of the order. We are thankful that the DENR Secretary Ramon JP Paje will address the concerns together with the industry and we look forward to this meeting,” the group said.

The group also pointed out that the order does not cover small-scale mining operations that are also engaged in extractive activities and have a similar, if not adverse, impact on the environment.

Likewise, it said that large-scale metallic mines already implement a credible and effective environmental management system as set forth in their Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programs (EPEPs), implying that the order will only make it complicated for the industry.

“The penalties for failing to secure an ISO 14001 certification within the given period is too harsh and unwarranted,” Chamber of Mines said, adding that the period of compliance under the order is too short.

Members of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which is comprised of large-scale metallic mining corporations, said they have already signified their willingness to ensure that their operation is at par with global environmental standards.

“As a matter of fact, a number of our members have been ISO certified and many others have also voluntarily embarked on the process of getting ISO certification in spite of implementing an effective EMS through their Environmental Protection and Enhancement programs (EPEP), following the measures indicated in their Environmental Compliance Certificates,” the group said.

The group reiterated that the mining industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries here and abroad and a healthy partnership with policymakers and regulators is important in maximizing the potential of minerals development for economic growth and nation building.

“It is our view that we should work hand-in-hand with the various government offices as the minerals that we get from the soil belong to the nation and all its generations,” the group said.

“More than any stakeholder, we are concerned with the protection of the environment being directly engaged in a productive economic activity. We support the innovations in technology, processes and policies of government that would lead to a more effective management of our natural endowments. We are of the position that these are better achieved if industry and government talk and work together and the suggested meeting is most appreciated by the industry,” it added.


British firms await mining policy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

18 May 2015

POTENTIAL British investors in the mining and oil industries are on wait-and-see mode while the Philippine government scrambles to come out with an equitable revenue-sharing scheme covering extractive sectors.

As for existing UK companies doing business in the country, their expansion activities are being put on hold as the interpretation of various policies, especially on taxation, differs from one agency or local government to another, lamented Asif Ahmad, British Ambassador to the Philippines.

“There are projects that are frozen, where they simply said ‘we are not going to touch them until the rules are clear.’ There are others where they have already made an investment, ready to extract and suddenly the rules have changed,” Ahmad told reporters on the sidelines of last week’s signing of a P5-million grant agreement between the British Embassy in Manila and civil society group Bantay Kita in support of the Department of Finance-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or EITI.

Ahmad pointed out that mining and oil projects followed a longer timetable from exploration until extraction, hence a more predictable regulatory environment augurs well for firms engaged in the extractive business.

The UK envoy added that such investments entailed huge capital, so any delay in their entry or implementation would result in lost opportunities, not only for the company but also for the country.

“If it is a very expensive extractive investment where there’s downstream investment as well, you can’t suddenly change the rules because these are global industries—they will simply decide that they have got other places to invest in,” he said.

Ahmad cited as one concern the issue with the Bureau of Internal Revenue on refunding the value-added tax on imported capital equipment, even as the tax perk had been clearly dangled by the Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority under their investment promotion and generation blueprint.

“There is disconnect in the policies of one government agency to another,” he noted.

“It’s not that British companies do not want to pay their taxes; it’s just that they want to pay when they are correctly and clearly negotiated,” he added.

As for the pending mining revenue-sharing scheme, Ahmad said that while British firms understand that the government was carefully weighing options so that gains trickle down to host communities, the policy should come out as soon as possible.

“They can’t afford to wait any longer… They have to immediately make a decision if this is the place where they will place their investment or not,” he said. Ben O. de Vera

 

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