Philippines: Glencore quits the Tampakan ProjectPublished by MAC on 2015-06-30
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Sun Star, GMA News, Rappler
Glencore has finally announced - after much hinting - that it will sell its stake in the troubled Tampakan copper and gold project it inherited from the merger with Xstrata. Once again another large mining multinational has quit the Philippines under sustained campaigning for local (indigenous) rights and the environment. This move has long been rumoured - partly thanks to the company's policies of not favouring greenfield copper mining projects - but the fierce local opposition to the project certainly played a part in the decision.
It looks like Glencore will sell to its former junior Philippine partner, which is run by the powerful. Alcantara family. At the time of writing full details of the deal were yet to be revealed, but some key questions remain, not least in understanding how such a big deal will be financed and what interest, if any, Glencore intends to keep in the project (including any off-take agreements). Local campaigners are sure to press for the company is held to account for violations that happened on its watch.
The opposition of the local government - particularly the South Cotabato's ordinance banning open pit mining - was crucial to the pressure applied to Glencore. Other local government units are replicating such action, including Davao City's recent ordinance banning large-scale mining. Similar campaigns are happening across the Philippines.
Those campaigns have been given added impetus by the experiences of Rapu Rapu, where a recently concluded environmental investigation mission revealed poor water quality and communities still in deep poverty after almost a decade of mining operations in the island. The experience of the Province of Marinduque, which has also lost its case in a Nevada state court hearing its claim for damages against Barrick Gold Corp. for the Marcopper mining disaster, is also a valid lesson.
Another proposed foreign-owned project, Intex Resources' nickel mine in Mindoro, has been the subject of large-scale protests, after its mining permit was reinstated by the national government. The Governor of Mindoro Oriental has issued a cease and desist order against the company.
In similar moves local campaigning groups have filed cases to stop the resumption of mining in Zambales, and a Subanon tribal organisation has successfully issued a cease and desist order against mining on its ancestral land.
The mayor of Mankayan has reiterated that Lepanto Consolidated needs, in his opinion, indigenous free, prior, informed consent to renew the permit for its Victoria mine (as the initial one was granted before the law requiring such consent was legally required).
Local residents are opposing attempts to resume the nickel operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp. in Eastern Samar (although the Mines and Geosciences Bureau claims the company is only removing previous ore stockpiles). Concerned citizens have also been demonstrating against mining at Lobo, in the Verde Island Passage.
There have also been protests against DMCI Power Corporation’s application to construct a coal-fired power plant in Narra, Palawan. Such protests have been supported by the Catholic Church, which has launched a national “One Million Against Coal" campaign.
In other news, the plight of child gold miners who operate underwater has made international news, and led to an outcry over this dangerous form of child labour.
At the national level it appears that mining will remain closed to new investors at least until the Aquino administration ends its term at the close of June next year, as a new revenue-sharing bill that would reopen the industry cannot be approved by the current Congress. So as large-multinationals leave, it is unclear how the industry can re-start, at least in the short-term.
Glencore exit from Tampakan project a victory for the people
Anglo-Swiss mining firm sells it shares in South Cotabato mining project
Kalikasan PNE Press Release
27 June 2015
Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) hailed as a victory for the people’s movement the divestment of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore from the $5.9 billion Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato, SOCSKSARGEN region.
“Glencore, potentially the largest mining project in the country to date, ultimately failed in the face of massive people’s resistance against foreign and large-scale mining. Glencore-SMI has been eager to plunder the estimated 2.4 billion metric tons of copper-gold deposits in Mindanao since 1992, but has been stopped time and again even as it is currently supported by the Aquino administration,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Glencore has been land grabbing 24,000 hectares of ancestral lands, forests, and agricultural lands of indigenous people and peasants, and has displaced at least 5,000 individuals and caused another 40,000 people—mostly farmers—to lose their livelihoods.
In addition to repugnant environmental destruction and social dislocation, at least 10 extrajudicial killings of indigenous people, children, and environmental activists has been incurred against opponents of the mining project since 2001. Glencore was also the mastermind behind the vilification and illegal detention by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera Jr. in 2014, and has been employing military and paramilitary forces to militarize the mine-affected communities.
“Faced with strong and relentless resistance from the B’laan indigenous people, pleasants, church people, rights advocates and environmentalists, the gargantuan Glencore-SMI fell and ultimately raised the white flag. We believe that this is the first case in which Glencore failed to advance its commercial mining operations in a foreign country. Glencore has serious negative environmental and rights track records in different countries such as Colombia, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, raking in billion-dollar profits from the extraction and trading of other people’s resources and products across the globe,” said Bautista.
In a June 24 statement, Glencore sold its holdings in the 10,000-hectare Tampakan project to Australian miner Indophil Resources-NL, which holds 37.5% of the 40% controlling stake in Sagitarrius Mines Inc (SMI), which runs the project.
“The people have been holding and will continue to hold various actions in the struggle against foreign mining projects. From the LGUs maintaining their ban on open-pit mining, to environmentalists’ street protests, down to indigenous people’s armed defense and punitive actions from the New People’s Army, the people will continue to protect our homes and livelihood,” asserted Bautista.
“If there shall be a new owner of the Tampakan mining, they will face the same stiff resistance from the Filipino people. We will never stop defending our lands, rights and natural resources. Indophil, SMI, and other large-scale foreign mining giants should completely abandon the Tampakan mining project and leave Mindanao, lest they face the united and principled action of the Filipino people,” ended Bautista.#
Reference: Clemente Bautista – 0922 844 9787
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
Philippines: Glencore sells share of Tampakan mine to Indophil Resources
By Edwin Espejo
24 June 2015
GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Commodities trader Glencore Plc has reportedly agreed to sell its entire stake at Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) to Indophil Resources NL, which was acquired by Alsons Prime Investment Corporation for a yet-to-be-disclosed amount and acquisition terms.
This breaking development followed the January completion of the sale of Indophil Resources NL to Alsons Prime.
The report means the complete exit of the Switzerland-based Glencore PLC from the US$5.6 billion copper and gold project of SMI in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
It also ended several months of uncertainty about Glencore plans for the controversial mining project that has been met with strong opposition from the Catholic Church here, environmental groups and the communist-led New People’s Army.
SMI exploration and operations ground to a halt several months after Glencore acquired the majority stake in the mining firm from erstwhile majority holder Xstrata PLC when the commodities firm openly expressed reluctance to finance ‘greenfield’ projects.
Xstrata reportedly spent over US$350 million while the project was still at the development and exploration stage.
The Tampakan project never went beyond exploration stage, however.
In 2013, SMI ‘downgraded’ its operations, largely confined to maintaining community presence and skeletal office manpower, after it failed to obtain the critical nod of the provincial government of South Cotabato for its Tampakan project.
It laid off more close to 1,000 workers and employees in the last quarter of 2013 following the decision of Glencore to downscale its operations in Tampakan.
Glencore said it has already informed the Australian Stock Exchange of the planned sale of its SMI shares.
Glencore owns 62.5 percent of SMI while Alson controls the remaining 37.5 percent by virtue of its acquisition of Indophil.
The share sale agreement (SSA) between Glencore and Indophil includes “a number of conditions” which must be completed before June 30.
No details of the sale were disclosed.
Exploration firm Indophil Resources NL of Australia became a wholly Filipino-owned company effective January 13 when it delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange following the approval of its sale to Alsons Prime Investment Corporation in a stockholders meeting in December.
Alsons then was backed by Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings which earlier appointed Frederic DyBuncio as member of the Board of Directors of Indophil.
Nicasio Alcantara represented the Alsons Group.
Also owning minority shares in SMI are San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon Ang and PLDT’s Manny Pangilinan.
The deal was valued at AU$361 million (P14.3 billion) which was paid in cash
With the Glencore’s reported sale of its stakes to Indophil, SMI becomes a wholly-owned Filipino mining company,. although Indophil continues to be a ‘foreign-listed’ company.
There was no immediate statement from Alsons Prime Investment.
Gavan Collery, vice president for corporate affairs of Indophil, however confirmed that Glencore is divesting all its shares in SMI.
“One hundred percent,” he said in a text message.
Glencore to exit Tampakan project
By Claire-Ann M. C. Feliciano, Senior Reporter
Business World Online.com
24 June 2015
ANGLO-SWISS miner Glencore Xstrata plc has moved to divest from the long-delayed $5.9-billion Tampakan gold-copper project in central Mindanao, which has been touted as potentially the largest foreign direct investment in the country to date.
In a June 24 statement from Baar, Switzerland that was posted on its Web site, the company announced that “a subsidiary of Glencore today executed a share sale agreement (SSA) with an affiliate of Indophil for the sale of the entire remaining interest in the Tampakan project in the Philippines.”
Glencore and Australian miner Indophil Resources NL hold 62.5% and 37.5% respectively of the 40% controlling stake in Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), which in turn runs the Tampakan project.
Tampakan Mining Corp. and Southcot Mining Corp. own the remaining 60% interest in SMI.
In its statement, Glencore said the SSA with Indophil’s affiliate sets conditions required to be obtained by June 30, with any extension subject to a mutual agreement.
“Details of the sale will be made available following certain administrative steps after the completion date,” the statement read. “Glencore will provide a further update when the transaction outlined by the SSA is completed.”
SMI confirmed yesterday that it was advised by Glencore of its move to exit from the Tampakan project.
“Yes, SMI was advised today that its majority shareholder, Glencore has entered into a share sale agreement with existing shareholder Indophil for the sale of its entire ownership interest (62.5%) in the company,” SMI Spokesperson Manolo T. Labor said in an e-mail, declining to comment further since “SMI is not a party to the share sale agreement.”
“Our focus now is the board-approved 2015 SMI work plan, which we at SMI intend to achieve,” Mr. Labor said, adding that the plan basically involves “working with all key stakeholders to seek an approvals pathway for the Tampakan project.”
Mr. Labor did not elaborate further. Other concerned officials were not immediately available when sought for comment yesterday.
Sought for comment, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo L. Jasareno said this development should not affect the project itself.
“Glencore’s divestment is internal,” Mr. Jasareno noted.
“It should not affect the project in terms of SMI’s responsibility and commitment to Tampakan.”
The move of Glencore to exit the mining project followed the disposal of its subsidiary’s shares in Indophil last January to Alsons Prime Investments Corp. (APIC). Glencore Queensland Ltd. used to hold 13.1% in Indophil before this was acquired by APIC under a scheme implementation agreement. Besides Glencore, other Philippine companies that used to have direct stake in Indophil were Philex Mining Corp. (1.30%) and Matutum Consolidated Mining Corp. (0.54%).
The project has been on hold since South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in mid-2010, on the eve of the Aquino administration’s assumption of office.
The project site covers an area of around 10,000 hectares straddling Tampakan, South Cotabato; Columbio in Sultan Kudarat; Kiblawan in Davao del Sur; and Malungon in Sarangani. Value of the mine’s production has been estimated at $37 billion over 20 years.
With the open-pit mining ban, SMI had said in 2012 that it would defer start of commercial operations to 2019 from 2016, with construction to “potentially commence in 2015.” The government issued a conditional environmental permit for the project in February 2013.
Alcantaras acquire Tampakan project
Anglo-Swiss firm Glencore exits PH mining
Philippine Daily Inquirer
25 June 2015
Anglo–Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining firm Glencore Plc has completed its exit from the controversial Tampakan project, touted as Southeast Asia’s largest untapped gold-copper reserve, with the sale of its remaining shares to the Alcantara group.
The deal allowed the Alcantara group, which controls Indophil Resources NL, to consolidate its control of the Tampakan project.
In a statement from its headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Glencore said that following its disposal of shares in Indophil Resources NL (Indophil), a deal was executed by a subsidiary to sell its remaining interest in the Tampakan project.
Glencore owned 62.5 percent of Sagittarius Mines Inc., the owner of the Tampakan project, while the remaining 37.5 percent was owned by Indophil, which is controlled by the Alcantara group through Alsons Prime Investments Corp. (Apic).
Apic took over Indophil in January 2015.
The new deal thus completed the Alcantara group’s full takeover of the Tampakan project and brought it back to Filipino hands.
Glencore said the agreement included a number of conditions that were required to be obtained prior to the targeted closing on June 30, 2015, subject to mutual agreement to extend such date.
The Tampakan area is estimated to contain 15 million tons for copper and almost 18 million ounces of contained gold.
The Alcantara group exercised its right of first refusal over the shares of Glencore in Tampakan.
Mindoreños to mount huge rally vs mining on Independence Day
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11 June 2105
CITY OF CALAPAN—A mammoth multisectoral rally is set to be held in this city on Friday, Independence Day, to protest the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to allow a European nickel company to operate on Mindoro Island.
Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. issued a memorandum on June 9, requiring all officials and employees of the provincial capitol to participate in the June 12 protest.
““Our collective stand will staunchly affirm our fight against large scale mining and our passionate care for the Mother Earth and the environment,” Umali said in the memorandum.
Several civil society organizations are joining the protest, including ABS-CBN’s Bantay Kalikasan. Cybermovement to Stop Mindoro Nickel Project, Rotary Club of Downtown Calapan, and members of the academic and religious sectors.
The DENR last month reinstalled the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources ASA to mine ore in Mindoro even as both provinces of Oriental and Occidental have issued ordinances banning large-scale mining for 25 years.
The DENR said the mining operation, deemed detrimental to the island’s ecosystem, should not proceed if the local governments oppose it.
Among the objections to the project was that the mining site, which covers around 12,000 hectares in the mountainous areas of Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro, covers a critical watershed area and an ancestral domain.
The ECC was temporarily revoked six years ago as a result of the 10-day hunger strike staged by Mindoreños, including tribal people, religious and local government officials in front of the DENR headquarters in Quezon City.
After learning of the reinstatement of the ECC, Umali, on May 12, issued a “cease and desist order” to Intex Resources Philippines, Inc., stopping it from any exploration, mining and related activities in the province.
On June 4, local officials led by Vice Gov. Humerlito Dolor met with environmentalists and other stakeholders where he pledged the provincial government’s commitment to stop the nickel project, stressing that the provincial government would stand by the 25-year mining moratorium in the province that will end in 2027.
The Oriental Mindoro provincial government imposed a 25-year large scale mining ban through an ordinance it adopted in January 2002. The provincial government of Occidental Mindoro issued a similar ordinance.
The Norway-based Intex on April 9 announced on its website the reinstatement of the ECC for its “world-class” Mindoro nickel project, which the company has described as its “main asset.”
The project is expected to produce 100 to 120 million tons of ore over 15 to 20 years.
Mindoro rallies to stop nickel/cobalt mine
by Jerry J. Alcayde
10 June 2015
Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro – Anti-mining advocates will stage a big multi-sectoral rally tomorrow, June 12 in their bid to finally stop the multi-million peso nickel and cobalt mining operations of a Norwegian company which recently its suspended environmental compliance certificate (ECC) reinstated.
The rally will be spearheaded by ABS-CBN Bantay kalikasan and Cybermovement to Stop Mindoro Nickel Project and will be supported by Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso V. Umali,Jr. Calapan City Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan, mayors of the 14 municipalities of the province, Bishop Warlito Cajandig and other cause-oriented groups.
The groups are protesting the decision of the Office of the President lifting the suspension of the ECC previously granted to Intex Resources Philippines Inc., the mining company that plans to extract huge deposits of nickel and cobalt in central Mindoro mountains.
The protesters will gather first at three designated assembly areas in Calapan City such as in Xentro Mall, Minscat Calapan and old City Plaza and will converge at 3:00 pm at an open parking area near the Citimart and Jollibee restaurant along J.P. Rizal Street.
Last March 4, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa lifted the suspension of the ECC of Intex which had been put aside since 2009 due to alleged legal procedural lapses and violations of the agreement with the government.
Kalasmina, a cause-oriented group, condemned the action of Ochoa as it only shows the bias of Malacañang in favor of a giant foreign mining company at the expense of the welfare and safety of the people in Mindoro. The DENR officially implemented the lifting of the ECC suspension lastApril 7 and allowed it to operate for four years and ten months under the terms and conditions of the ECC.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan, led by Vice-Governor Humerlito A. Dolor passed a resolution last June 1, requesting DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to finally revoke the ECC of Intex by invoking also the 25-year mining moratorium ordinance.
Governor shuts down nickel mining in Oriental Mindoro
by Jerry J. Alcayde
5 June 2015
Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro — Governor Alfonso V. Umali Jr., has issued a cease and desist order against all operations of a Norwegian mining company planning to extract nickel and cobalt in the central part of Mindoro.
In a letter addressed to company officials of Intex Resources Philippines, Inc., Umali ordered the mining firm and its affiliates to immediately stop their exploration and related activities in Oriental Mindoro, invoking a provincial ordinance imposing a 25-year mining moratorium in the province.
He said Oriental Mindoro, as a local government unit (LGU), has all the rights to impose restrictions on any mining company conducting large-scale mining activities in the province.
The governor cited Section 3 of Provincial Ordinance No. 001-2002 which states, among others, that “it shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to engage in land clearing, prospecting, explorations, drilling, excavations, mining, transport of mineral ores and such other activities in furtherance of or preparatory to all forms of mining operations for a period of 25 years.”
The Mindoro Nickel Project of the Oslo-based Intex Resources is largest mining asset in its global operations with a total investment of US$4.5 billion in capital and operating costs.
Records at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) indicated that the project has a 113-square kilometer concession area that extends to Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.
Last Monday, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan led by Vice-Governor Humerlito A. Dolor passed a resolution requesting DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to revoke the reinstated environmental compliance certificate of Intex citing several violations and disadvantages of the mining project to the province.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Oriental Mindoro unanimously approved a resolution requesting the resolution last Monday expressing the strong opposition of Mindoreños against large-scale mining particularly the multi-million Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources Philippines Inc., an Oslo-based mining company.
Oriental Mindoro Vice-Governor Humerlito “Bonz” A. Dolor said the said resolution, is a reiteration of their previous resolution passed on January 28, 2002 declaring a 25-year moratorium on large-scale mining in Oriental Mindoro which is still in effect.
The ECC was suspended 2009 by virtue of DENR Special order No. 2009-921, but last March 4, the Office of the President thru Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa lifted the suspension of the ECC issued to Intex.
“The reinstatement of the ECC is a blatant disregard of the opposition of most numbers of local government units, the church and civil society groups, both in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro,” the resolution stated.
Under the present resolution which was authored by the vice-governor himself, the Mindoro Nickel Project is vehemently opposed since it is located in the upper portion of Barangay Villa Cerveza in Victoria, part of the central range of Mindoro which serves as a contiguous watershed to more than 15 river systems.
Vice-Gov. Dolor said the mining project is also incompatible with the sustainable development agenda of the provincial government which is anchored on food security and eco-tourism.
Another matter of contention is the fact that the area covered by the project is within the ancestral domain of the Mangyan tribes. Dolor revealed that Intex reportedly failed to secure the consent of affected indigenous cultural communities.
Mindoro governor leads rally vs mining company
Philippines Daily Inquirer
12 June 2015
CITY OF CALAPAN—The provincial government is taking the lead in a rally against a mining firm here today, issuing a memorandum on June 9 requiring all officials and employees of capitol to take part in the protest action.
The memo was issued by Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr.
“To demonstrate our constant opposition and strong objection to the operation of Intex in the province…all will gather at the provincial government grounds at 2 p.m. and shall march together on JP Rizal Street and will gather near Citimart Island Mall for the program,” said Umali in his memo.
Attendance at the rally would be checked, the governor said. “Our collective stand will staunchly affirm our fight against large-scale mining and our passionate care for Mother Earth and the environment,” said the memo.
Among the environment organizations involved in the Independence Day rally is ABS-CBN’s Bantay Kalikasan.
Despite a 25-year mining moratorium, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last month reinstated the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the Mindoro nickel project of Intex Resources ASA to mine ore in Mindoro, on condition that the company could not proceed with its mining activities if local governments oppose.
The Oriental Mindoro provincial government imposed a 25-year large-scale mining ban through an ordinance in January 2002. The same ordinance was cited by the provincial government when, in 2009, it opposed the ECC granted to Intex.
Among the grounds for the protests against the project was the location of its 12,000-hectare site, which is within a watershed and an ancestral domain area.
The ECC was temporarily revoked six years ago as a result of the 10-day hunger strike staged by Mindoro protesters, including tribal people and priests, in front of the DENR office in Manila.
After learning of the reinstatement of the ECC, Umali, on May 12, issued a “cease and desist order” to Intex Resources Philippines Inc., stopping it from any exploration, mining and related activities in the province.
On June 4, local officials, led by Vice Gov. Humerlito Dolor, met with environmentalists and other stakeholders, pledging the provincial government’s commitment to stop the Mindoro nickel project.
The Norway-based Intex on April 9 announced on its website the reinstatement of the ECC for its “world-class” Mindoro nickel project, which the company said was its “main asset.”
The project is expected to produce 100 to 120 million tons of ore over 15 to 20 years, the company said.Madonna T. Virola, Inquirer Southern Luzon
Green groups sue DENR, MGB
21 June 2015
AN ENVIRONMENTAL group from the town of Sta. Cruz in Zambales recently filed a case against DENR officials, demanding the resumption of suspension orders against mining companies operating in the area.
Local people’s organization Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz Zambales (CCOS) is awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeals after it filed a case of Mandamus and Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) last June 9, 2015.
The respondents of the cases are DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, MGB Director Leo Jasareno and MGB Region III acting Director Atty. Danilo Uykieng.
The cases filed against the government officials demand the resumption of suspension of LnL Archipelago Minerals, Inc. (LAMI), Eramin Minerals Inc. (EMI) and Benguet Corp Nickels Mines Inc. (BNMI) after the 90 days temporary lifting of the companies’ suspension orders.
“It has been over a month since the 90 days temporary lifting of BNMI, LAMI and EMI’s suspension orders ended and the mining companies have failed to meet their obligations, ” said Dr. Ben Molino, chairperson of CCOS.
“We see no reasons why these mining companies continue to operate in Sta. Cruz, Zambales and we don’t see any efforts from DENR and MGB to stop them. We will not sit here and watch as they continue to destroy our environment and the livelihoods of the people with impunity. We demand actions from the respective government offices right now,” he added.
In July 15, 2014, BNMI, LAMI, EMI and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. were suspended upon the recommendation of MGB Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) due to findings of violations to mining procedures and policies and environmental destruction.
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 while the suspension orders are still in effect.
In February 10 and 20, 2015, DENR Region III issued a temporary lifting of the suspension orders of BNMI, LAMI and EMI subject to compliance of certain conditions within 90 days.
Among the conditions are the construction of an alternative mine haulage road, resolution of the alleged coastal destruction brought about by the mining operation, full payment of claims for compensation for damages to fishponds, sediment flux monitoring to determine the effectiveness of siltation and erosion control measures, full rehabilitation of adversely affected river systems, and progressive rehabilitation of inactive mining areas.
“So far, we have seen no construction and rehabilitation of whatsoever kind. The affected communities have not yet been compensated. Our river systems are as worse as ever, nickel laterite pollution reached the sea, and yet here they are still operating,” said Molino.
Meanwhile, national environmental organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a partner and supporter of CCOS, called on DENR and MGB to “fulfil their obligations to the people of Zambales” and “implement the suspension order the soonest possible time.”
“BNMI, LAMI and EMI’s failure to meet their obligations is proof that these mining companies have no regard with their commitments to make amends for the destruction their operations have brought in Zambales, ” said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
“Unfortunately, DENR, MGB national office and MGB Region 3 have failed to hold the companies accountable, and their inadequate action in this case proves the government offices’ inability to effectively regulate mining operation,” he added.
In a statement, Garganera asserted that the government was supposed to have already improved the governance and regulation of mining operations with Executive Order 79, but the alliance claims that enforcement of the policy has been unsatisfactory in general.
“We demand for DENR, MGB national office and MGB Region 3 to implement the suspension orders of the three mining companies and compel them to pay for the destruction their operations caused in Zambales. It is high time that they step up their game and be true to their mandate of protecting the environment.”
MGB, NCIP stop mining activities in ancestral domain of IPs in Zambo Sur
22 June 2015
PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) jointly issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against mining operations within the Indigenous Peoples (IP) ancestral domain areas in this province.
Timuay Langhap Rio Olimpio Lingating, head of the Subanen tribes, said Monday that covered by the CDO are the mining operations in Barangays Deborok and Lourdes in this city; Barangay Mati, Tigbao; and in Barangays Langapod and Noboran, Labangan.
Lingating’s group is known as the Pikumpungan Subanen Gataw Tebed, Inc. (PSGT), which is a holder of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).
Alfredo Relampagos, MGB OIC-regional director, and Woy Lim Wong, NCIP regional director, jointly issued the CDO dated June 10 following complaints filed by the PSGT against massive intrusion by mining groups in their ancestral domain.
The complaints was coursed through MGB Director Leo Jasareno, who in turn ordered the MGB regional office headed by Relampagos to conduct an investigation.
Relampagos and Wong said the mining operations within the IPs ancestral domain are illegal and in violation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 since there was no Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) given by the IP-CADT holders.
The Provincial Mineral Regulatory Board (PMRB) also did not issue permit to any individual to conduct mining operations within the ancestral domain of the IPs.
Lingating has expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the MGB and NCIP for taking the appropriate action putting a stop on all mining operations within their ancestral domain areas in this province. (PNA)
Lepanto needs community's consent - mayor
By Maria Elena Catajan
Sun Star Baguio
28 May 2015
THE mayor of Mankayan town is convinced Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC) still needs the consent of the community to keep its gold mines in the area open.
Lepanto needs a Free Prior Informed Consent because "that is the law," Mayor Materno Luspian said.
Lepanto is seeking renewal of its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for its Victoria mine in Benguet after it expired last March.
Local officials insist the company cannot apply for a renewal without an FPIC, which is required by the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA).
But Lepanto said it is not covered by the law because it obtained the agreement seven years before the law was enacted in 1997.
For now, the mine continues to operate because a Makati court has ordered the government not disrupt its operations until the dispute over its application for renewal its contract is resolved.
"We are waiting for the courts to decide," Luspian said.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 29, 2015.
Residents oppose alleged resumption of nickel mining in Eastern Samar
By Keith Richard D. Mariano
23 June 2015
Residents of a small island in Eastern Samar are opposing what they claimed as attempts to resume the nickel operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp. despite a standing suspension order from the government.
A barge carrying bulldozers supposedly arrived at the miner's port off the Manicani island in Leyte Gulf on June 20, members of the Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) and the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. said Tuesday.
A 15-minute footage shown by the groups shows a number of residents aboard fishing boats surrounding the barge so as to prevent the bulldozers from being unloaded and to clarify the purposed of the shipment.
The residents feared that the miner would resume operations, according to SAMAMO and PMPI.
Hinatuan Mining was expected to use the bulldozers to transport the stockpile of nickel from the island, Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, legal counsel for SAMAMO, claimed.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has suspended the mining operations since 2011 on grounds that the operations pose environmental hazards, Pedrosa said.
In July 2014, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued Hinatuan Mining the authority to dispose the remaining nickel ore stockpile of parent company Nickel Asia Corp., Pedrosa claimed.
SAMAMO and PMPI are opposing the removal of the stockpiles until the hazards of transporting the nickel ore have been assessed.
The groups are now seeking a dialogue with the DENR and MGB to clarify what they are claiming as the resumption of mining operations at Manicani. – VS, GMA News
Mines Bureau says nickel mining in Eastern Samar remains suspended
By Keith Richard D. Mariano
24 June 2015
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) denied the allegations by anti-mining groups that Hinatuan Mining Corp. is resuming its nickel operations in a small island in the Leyte Gulf.
The company remains barred from operating in Manicani island in Eastern Samar, a technical staff from the bureau's Mining Tenements Division told GMA News Online Wednesday.
The affiliate company of Nickel Asia Corp., however, was allowed to take the remaining ore stockpile out of Manicani.
"Pinayagan na i-dispose ang stockpile noon pa... dahil na-e-erode ito at nagkakaroon ng environmental effects sa lugar," the staff, who requested anonymity, said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has suspended the mining operations since 2011, citing environmental concerns. The MGB later authorized Hinatuan Mining to dispose of its remaining ore stockpile.
A barge carrying bulldozers arrived at the miner's port off the Manicani island in Leyte Gulf on June 20, members of the Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) and the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. claimed.
A 15-minute footage shown by the groups shows a number of residents aboard fishing boats confronting the barge on fears that Hinatuan Mining would resume nickel operations in the island.
SAMAMO and PMPI are opposing the removal of the stockpile until the hazards of transporting the nickel ore have been assessed.
While it was allowed to dispose of its remaining ore stockpile, Hinatuan Mining has yet to receive a mineral ore export permit from the MGB, according to the staff. – VS, GMA News
Environmental group opposes large-scale Batangas mining project
By Yuji Gonzales
9 June 2015
Citing harmful effects to marine biodiversity, an environmental group on Tuesday protested the impending large-scale mining project of an Australian-Canadian firm in Batangas before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In a statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the large-scale operation of MRL Gold-Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. in the municipality of Lobo would not only affect the biodiversity in the area, but also the Verde Island Passage.
The Verde Island Passage, which has been declared the center of marine biodiversity in the world, is a strait between Luzon and the island of Mindoro.
“The Aquino government and its local counterpart in Batangas are both out of their minds in allowing the Egerton large-scale mining project to push through in the municipality of Lobo,” said Clementine Bautista, Kalikasan PNE’s national coordinator.
The dialogue protest, which was organized and attended by local church leaders, local fisherfolk organizations and other environmental groups, was particularly aimed at getting the attention of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the agency in charge of issuing environmental compliance certificates, to prevent the foreign firm from operating in the country.
Bautista said the impending environmental risks of the mining project to the Verde Island Passage should be “more than enough” for the EMB to deny Gold-Egerton of its compliance certificate.
“The Egerton gold project will be utilizing open-pit mining technology, which will result in the production and dumping of millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River down to the waters of the Verde Island Passage,” Bautista said. “This impending mine pollution will surely spell death to current marine conservation areas in Lobo municipality alone.”
In 1997, DENR declared Lobo the fifth of 18 biodiversity centers in the world. The municipality houses four declared marine conservation areas, namely the Lobo Mangrove Conservation Area, Sawang Olo-olo Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area, Malabrigo Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area and Biga Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area.
Apart from negative environmental consequences, environmental groups said the mining project would also affect the food security and source of livelihood of local residents and may even displace some communities.
“As large-scale mining involves deforestation and land clearing, flora and fauna will be surely lost and communities will be displaced in the development and commercial operation of the mining project,” Bautista said.
In October 2006, the DENR issued a mining exploration permit to MRL Gold Philippines Inc. and its affiliate Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. RC
People’s caravan protests impending large-scale mining in Batangas
Lobo mine project can affect important biodiversity sites, global center of marine biodiversity
Kalikasan PNE press release
9 June 2015
Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined local church leaders and environmental advocates from Batangas in a dialogue-protest at the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today to protest the railroading of the large-scale mining project of Australian-Canadian mining firm MRL Gold-Egerton Gold Phils Inc.
“The Aquino government and its local counterpart in Batangas are both out of their minds in allowing the Egerton large-scale mining project to push through in the Municipality of Lobo. They are condemning to destruction not only Lobo’s important biodiversity areas but also the global center of marine biodiversity, the Verde Island Passage, to which Lobo is contiguous,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE.
Lobo was declared in 1997 as the top fifth of the 18 centers of biodiversity in the Philippines, while international and local scientists have identified the Verde Island Passage as the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world. DENR also identified it as one of the five key marine biodiversity areas in the country. A 2004 study documented 1,736 marine species in just one small section of the Verde Island marine biodiversity corridor.
The dialogue, organized by environmental groups Kalikasan PNE, Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan-Batangas (BUKAL Batangas), Archdiocese Ministry on Environment of Batangas (AMEN), alongside local fisherfolk organizations and the local resort owners association, sought to warn the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the ecological risks if the Egerton gold mining project pushes through. EMB is the government agency issuing environmental compliance certificates (ECC) to environmentally critical projects.
“The Egerton gold project will be utilizing open-pit mining technology, which will result in the production and dumping of millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River down to the waters of the Verde Island Passage. This impending mine pollution will surely spell death to current marine conservation areas in Lobo Municipality alone,” Bautista explained.
There are four declared marine conservation areas in Lobo, namely the Lobo Mangrove Conservation Area, the Sawang Olo-olo Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area, Malabrigo Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area, and the Biga Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area.
“The grave environmental risks of the mining project to the Verde Island Passage’s marine biodiversity corridor are more than enough for EMB to deny Egerton its ECC. As large-scale mining involves deforestation and land clearing, flora and fauna will be surely lost and communities will be displaced in the development and commercial operation of the mining project,” Bautista added.
Petti Enriquez, secretary general of provincial environment group BUKAL Batangas, said that “Fisher folks, peasants and local businesses are at the losing end if the government permits the Egerton large-scale mining project to operate in Batangas. The bounty of the forests, farm lands, and the sea in Batangas is the source of livelihood, food security, and investment of Batanguenos. Not only the fishery and agricultural sectors will be adversely affected, but also the booming tourism in the province. We will not take this sitting down, if needed we will fight tooth and nail to protect our land, livelihood and environment.”
The nearby Municipality of San Juan, Batangas has passed a resolution in 2006 banning large-scale mining in their town to protect their fishing industry and tourism. The municipalities of San Juan and Lobo are well-known tourist destinations because of their pristine beaches and rich coastal resources.
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
The Verde Island Passage
By Rita Linda V. Jimeno
15 June 2015
On World Ocean Day last week, it had to be an academic institution in a country across the Pacific that enthusiastically declared the discovery of more than 100 species that are new to science. All these new species of marine creatures--ranging from sea slugs to delicate heart urchins-- were found in the Verde Island Passage, scientists from the California Academy of Sciences announced.
The principal investigator, Terry Gosliner, the academy’s senior curator of invertebrate zoology, said “the Philippines is jam-packed with diverse and threatened species; it is one of the most astounding regions of biodiversity on earth.” He added that the species lists and distribution maps that the academy has created during its years surveying the country’s land and sea will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this incredible biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival. The Verde Island Passage, now known as the center of the center of the world’s biodiversity, lies between the provinces of Batangas and Mindoro.
Incredibly, the Philippines, for its part, made no big deal out of such discovery of new species in the Verde Island Passage. Of course, one should accept that these days, nothing is more important to the leaders of the country than the 2016 elections. Never mind the astounding discoveries of new species, and that they may be threatened unless protected. In fact, the government seems to have forgotten the commitments it made years ago to protect and conserve the Verde Island Passage. Now, the Verde Island Passage is in grave peril of destruction. Open pit mining in the municipality of Lobo, Batangas whose long coastlines are along the rim of the Verde Island Passage, is in the works.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has held hastily-called hearings regarding the application of a foreign corporation to do open-pit gold mining in Lobo. The DENR said it was only doing its job because, it said, the Sangguniang Bayan of the municipality of Lobo passed a Resolution on April 20, 2015 endorsing the application for open pit gold mining in Lobo by a foreign mining company. The Sanggunian, headed by the Vice Mayor, on the other hand, pointed a finger to the barangay captains for giving their assent to the application for mining.
Yet, most, if not all, of the barangay captains who gave their assent to mining--it turns out-- did not know what open pit mining entailed. They were told that it would create jobs but did not realize that modern mining is not labor intensive and that it will, in the long run, and for hundreds of decades to come, impoverish them even more. They did not have the faintest idea that the soil upon which they derive crops will no longer be fit for planting, the seas from which they obtain food will die from pollution and poisoning, and the forested mountains that give them fresh air will be blown away.
What’s worrisome is that the executives of DENR and the local government of Lobo seem suddenly stricken with a serious case of amnesia. Back in 2006, or soon after a well-publicized study by Carpenter and Springer highlighting the importance of the Verde Island Passage for being the center of the center of biodiversity, both the national government and the local government units of Batangas seemed headed toward serious conservation efforts in the Verde passage. The national government established a Task Force to prepare a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor, with seven key government agencies tasked to implement the preservation of Verde Island Passage. The lead agency was the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while the Department of Tourism was a member.
In 2008, eight municipalities of Batangas, among which was Lobo, established the Batangas Bay network to protect the Verde Island Passage. The Department of Tourism, for its part, declared the Batangas peninsula as an eco-tourism zone which is off limits to mining. Yet, the coverage of such declaration mysteriously excluded the municipality of Lobo which fronts the Verde Island Passage itself.
Open pit mining, as studies show, uses explosives to excavate the earth and lop off mountains to extract gold and mineral ores the fastest and cheapest way possible. Broken rocks and debris, all contaminated with toxins from the explosives, will fill the air and the waters. Mining uses such poisonous chemicals as cyanide, among others, to produce gold from the ores. Although the mining company promised to build a tailings dam to contain toxic waters from the mines, the problem is, when storms come--and they come often--or when heavy rains pour, the poisoned water in the tailings dam will overflow to the soil and the sea. Inevitably, it will flow and contaminate the Verde Island Passage.
In a power point presentation by Ms. Gina Lopez of ABS CBN, she showed that all the places in the Philippines where mining was permitted such as Zambales, Cotabato and Rapu Rapu in Bicol, massive destruction to the earth, water sources, the seas and the people’s health resulted. The communities were left even poorer than they were; their children and people afflicted with frightening diseases; and their surroundings—nothing but a barren swath of wasteland.
The government must remember its bounden duty to protect its people and its precious resources under the Constitution and the many international conventions it entered into for the conservation of biological diversity. The world depends on the Philippines to give a chance of survival to the new species discovered in the Verde Island Passage.
Green groups, lawmakers ask Congress to investigate approval of DMCI coal-fired power plant in Palawan
House resolution filed inquiring on irregularities, environmental risks of coal project
Joint press release
10 June 2015
Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) joined progressive lawmakers yesterday in filing House Resolution No. 2164, which called for an on-site investigation, in aid of legislation, of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development’s (PCSD) granting of a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance to DMCI Power Corporation’s application to construct its proposed 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Narra, Palawan last May 28.
“Congress should probe into how a pollutive coal-fired power plant was approved despite the copious lack of social acceptability and extensive environmental risks. The move is especially questionable given the availability of clean and competitive energy alternatives in the province,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
HR 2164, principally authored by Bayan Muna’s Rep. Neri Colmenares and Rep. Carlos Zarate alongside Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, identified coal as one of the “dirtiest” sources of energy, as well as the sole contributor of 44% of global carbon emissions in 2012.
“We filed HR 2164 because DMCI’s Palawan coal power project presents real threats to the globally recognized and protected status of Palawan’s unparalleled biodiversity. The construction of a pollutive project in Palawan also contradicts the government’s choice of the province as a climate-resilient ‘Ecotown’ demonstration site,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
Declared by UNESCO in 1990 as a “Man and Biosphere Reserve”, the island province of Palawan is home to 105 of 475 threatened and endangered species in the Philippines, 67 of which are endemic to the Philippines, with 42 of them located in Palawan.
The Climate Change Commission declared the town of San Vicente, Palawan as the model of its Ecotown Framework, where the National Climate Change Action Plan is applied to local communities.
HR 2164 furthered that contrary to claims of power insufficiency in the province, Palawan only has a peak energy demand of 35 MW. The total energy power capacity of energy providers in Palawan is already at 53.7 MW, rounding off the island’s power reserves at 45% of the peak demand. The resolution further explains that the 15 MW coal power project is inappropriate to the existing transmission infrastructure in Palawan, which can carry only a maximum of 12MW of total power.
“Given Palawan’s surplus power supply and existing clean energy options, we challenge our colleagues in Congress to investigate how the PCSD still utterly failed its mandate to protect the environment in its approval of an expensive and pollutive coal-fired power plant. We hope this investigation would lead to an honest review of Palawan’s SEP law and the PCSD’s performance through the year,” said Zarate.
The resolution notes that Palawan has a total renewable energy potential of 164MW from hydroelectric, solar and wind power, which according to studies meant potential annual savings of PhP 750 million in fossil fuel costs and a reduction of 26,000 tonnes in carbon emissions.
The environment group called on the House of Representatives, particularly the House Committees on Ecology, Natural Resources and Climate Change, to support and prioritize the call for joint investigation.
“Palawan remains the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, and DMCI’s acquisition of the SEP clearance is a threat to this already precarious status,” ended Dulce.
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
DMCI: Deforestation, Mining, Coal, and Injustice
'DMCI’s persisting business model reflects not only on the inherently destructive nature of extractive industries in the Philippines, but also on the toothless and criminally negligent environmental governance in the country'
5 June 2015
Last April 30, indigenous Manobo activist John Calaba was invited to a meal by paramilitary guards of big business group DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) to their security outpost in the hinterland village of Sabanal in Lebak Town, Sultan Kudarat.
Sporadic gunshots were heard not long afterwards, and after the gunfire subsided, villagers reportedly saw 6 company guards loading something wrapped in canvas on an elf truck that left a trail of blood as it sped away. No one has seen Calaba leave the outpost ever since.
Rights group Desaparecidos, who first reported the incident, said Calaba was the public information officer of the Kisasabana Dulangan Manobo (KIDUMA), a local indigenous organization opposed to the logging and mining operations of DMCI-owned companies in the province.
Since 1989, DMCI’s M&S Inc. and Silvicultural Industries have been running logging operations in a number of Integrated Forestry Management Areas (IFMA) covering a total of 24,380 hectares in the province. In 2000, DMCI’s South Davao Development Co. was approved to start exploring for gold and copper in 1,274 hectares within the M&S IFMA itself.
These operations have long been protested by the Dulangan Manobos for DMCI’s encroachment, deforestation, and displacement of indigenous people’s communities in their ancestral domains.
DMCI profits from pollution
With a P56.6 billion revenue in 2014 and an 18% net profit surge in the first quarter of 2015, DMCI’s extractive and pollutive projects remain profitably at-large despite their notorious track record of environmental crimes and human rights violations.
Alongside 3 other large-scale mines, DMCI’s 3,765-hectare nickel mining project in Santa Cruz town, Zambales province has caused extensive water pollution that has reportedly already affected 120 hectares of fish ponds, thousands of hectares of farmlands, and all the major rivers, creeks, and shores in the 6 villages of Santa Cruz.
In addition to its 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Calaca Town, Batangas, it has collaborated with the provincial government in Palawan - amidst opposition - to railroad the approval of its 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Narra Town, threatening the province’s status as a UNESCO-declared Man and Biosphere Reserve.
DMCI’s Semirara Coal Mine in Antique is the country’s biggest coal producer and a consistent environment and safety risk to its own workers and its host community, as well as its immediate marine environment. DMCI coal production directly feeds to the coal-fired power plants it owns.
Foreign investments are DMCI’s constant source of profit. According to their 2014 general information sheet, US-based construction firm Dacon Corporation has 45.77% of DMCI’s P13.27 billion total stock shares, while South African firm DFC Holdings has 17.86%. A number of US and Canadian financial firms also account for over 2% in DMCI’s stocks.
DMCI’s persisting business model, founded on a web of ‘development aggression’ and a wanton yet unpunished disregard of environmental and social costs, reflects not only on the inherently destructive nature of extractive industries in the Philippines, but also on the toothless and criminally negligent environmental governance in the country.
If the current administration of President Benigno Aquino III will not make an example of DMCI amidst its worsening track record, it is left to the people’s collective action to hold DMCI to account. On the coming global commemoration of World Environment Day on June 5, let us take concrete actions to demand justice from DMCI.
Let us raise awareness on the enforced disappearance of John Calaba. Send a message to DMCI, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Department of Justice to take action on the incident.
Our public officials, especially legislators from districts that host DMCI’s projects, must be compelled to investigate DMCI officials over the company’s various environmental and human rights crimes. Organize lobbying trips to their offices together with your fellow constituents.
The international community can contribute by demanding the abovementioned foreign investors to divest from DMCI. This is very possible - the Norwegian parliament has recently divested an estimated $5 billion of its sovereign wealth fund away from the coal sector, including its investments in DMCI and other coal projects in the Philippines.
Lastly and most importantly, let us join protest actions being mounted on June 5 directed at DMCI. The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment will picket DMCI’s headquarters in Makati in the morning, and the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy will hold a protest at Mendoza Park in Puerto Princesa in the afternoon.
Let our actions speak loudest about our commitment to protect the environment and conserve our natural resources. Let us demand justice from DMCI! - Rappler.com
Leon Dulce is the campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, a national alliance and campaign center on people’s environmental issues, and is a PH campaigner of international climate action movement 350.org.
Indigenous peoples score DMCI on World Environment Day
KATRIBU News Release
5 June 2015
MAKATI—Indigenous peoples from KATRIBU Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas along with environment activists conducted a protest action at the office of D.M. Consunji, Inc (DMCI) on Friday, June 5, on the commemoration of the World Environment Day. KATRIBU scored the construction corporation over issues of environmental destruction and human rights violations.
"Not only has DMCI have an abysmal environmental record, it also infringes on human rights by its use of a private army to eliminate its critics on the ground," Piya Macliing Malayao, KATRIBU spokesperson said.
Recently, John Calaba, a 28-year-old Manobo activist and public information officer of local indigenous peoples’ organization KIDUMA (Kisasabanay sa Dulangan Manobo) went missing in his hometown of Sitio Salabantran, Brgy. Sabanal, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat. Calaba was last seen on April 30, at around 9:00 AM in the company of DMCI guards. Gunshots were heard around the DMCI area around 10:00 AM, witnesses say. A vehicle was seen exiting the area afterwards, which left a trail of blood. Calaba remains missing, and is feared dead by locals and human rights organizations.
"We hold the DMCI guards and the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) for his disappearance. We demand his immediate surfacing," Malayao said.
Calaba was a known leader vocal in criticizing the environmental effects and land-grabbing of DMCI in the area and is seen as reason for his disappearance and possible extrajudicial killing.
According to KATRIBU, DMCI have driven away the Dulangan Manobo from their ancestral lands. Their farms planted with native and various crops were cleared out and then bulldozed. They have also been prevented from tilling their own lands, and are being harassed by company guards and are being compelled to pay for the company’s safe conduct pass.
Malayao also blasted DMCI's use of a "legitimized private army" to threaten and harass the Manobo people.
According to Malayao, the Aquino government continued the formation of the Investment Defense Force (IDF), unveiled in 2008 by former President Arroyo to protect mining and energy investments. The IDF is a cooperation of private security groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the charge of securing businesses.
"The creation and continuance of the Investment Defense Force is a direct attack against the people and an affront to human rights in general. Imagine goons, armed with the best weapons mining corporations and plantation owners could buy, trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and legitimized by the President, are going after indigenous people and ordinary citizens who are critical of projects and businesses. It is an abomination to democracy that corporations have an army under their thumb,” Malayao said.
DMCI guards in its operations in Sultan Kudarat are said to have been trained by the 38th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
"Paramilitary groups and other mercenaries on payroll by big businesses are terrorizing Lumad villages all over Mindanao. In his policy for retaining paramilitary groups and the Investment Defense Force, BS Aquino is responsible for perpetuating the reigning culture of impunity," Malayao added.
KATRIBU is pushing for the revocation of Executive Order 546, that legitimizes the creation of collaborative defense force between the government and private security forces.#
References: Piya Macliing Malayao, 0917-3631576 Spokesperson; Lea Fullon, 0998-2972500, Public Information Officer
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, 876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City, Philippines
DMCI, Palawan Council’s railroading of Narra coal power plant a ‘serious blow to our natural, national heritage’
Kalikasan PNE press release
1 June 2015
National environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) denounced the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) in their railroading of the Strategic Environmental Plan clearance of the company’s coal-fired power plant project in Narra, Palawan. Kalikasan PNE called the move “a serious blow to our national and natural heritage for threatening the country last frontier and ecological treasure.”
“DMCI has a penchant for profiting from the destruction of our environment and our country’s heritage, from its Torre de Manila disrespecting the cultural importance of the Rizal Shrine to its Narra Coal Power Plant threatening the unparalleled natural resources and wonders in Palawan. No company with an atrocious environmental and social track record such as DMCI should be allowed to build environmentally critical projects,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Kalikasan PNE pointed out that DMCI has various big business projects across the country that have caused economic and social dislocation, environmental destruction and pollution, and human rights violations, citing the following as examples:
* Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., a subsidiary of DMCI Mining, is involved in the extensive water pollution in the farming and fishing communities of Santa Cruz, Zambales
* The Calaca coal-fired power plant, acquired by DMCI Power in 2007, continues to cause respiratory diseases and negatively affect fisheries productivity in Calaca, Batangas despite its use of ‘clean coal technologies’
* The Semirara Coal Mine in Semirara Island, Antique has caused much pollution to its host community and immediate marine environment, and to wit has done nothing significant to address a landslide accident in 2013 where five workers died and five more were declared missing.
* M&S Inc. and Silvicultural Industries, both owned by DMCI, have been logging in their Integrated Forestry management Areas in Sultan Kudarat since 1989 covering 24,380 hectares of forested areas. South Davao Development Co., also a subsidiary of DMCI, has been exploring for gold and copper in 1,274 hectares within the M&S IFMA itself.
* John Calaba, indigenous Manobo activist from the indigenous people’s organization KIDUMA, is suspected to have been forcibly disappeared by DMCI paramilitary guards last April 30 for their opposition to the above-mentioned Sultan Kudarat projects.
“Communities, concerned citizens, and advocates across the country are opposing DMCI’s development aggression, and Palawenyos have already rejected the DMCI coal power plant twice before. Officials of PCSD and other government bodies that are willfully blind to this should be exposed and held accountable, and ultimately resign from their positions,” added Dulce.
Kalikasan PNE said various environmental groups are planning to hold protest actions this coming World Environment Day on June 5 to demand justice from DMCI. “We enjoin the Filipino public to join us in saying ‘Enough is enough!’ to DMCI’s projects that are perfect showcases of the growing environmental crisis in the Philippines,” ended Dulce.#
Reference: Leon Dulce – 0917 562 6824
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756
On World Environment Day: Environmentalists protest DMCI’s Palawan coal-fired power plant, other ecological crimes
Kalikasan PNE Press Release
5 June 2015
MAKATI CITY, Metro Manila—Today on World Environment Day, environmental activists under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) held a picket protest outside the office of DMCI Holdings denouncing its various environmental crimes and human rights violations in several biodiversity areas in the Philippines. The latest case is the railroading of the pollutive 15-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Narra Town, Palawan Province.
“The Filipino people must demonstrate on World Environment Day our commitment to protect our natural heritage and ecology by opposing DMCI’s coal-fired power plant in the globally-renowned ecological treasure that is the province of Palawan,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Kalikasan PNE noted that DMCI has an extensive track record of anti-people and anti-environment projects.
“DMCI’s group of companies has been extensively logging in almost 100,000 hectares of forest areas in Mindanao over the past three decades. They have been irresponsibly mining Nickel in Zambales that has already caused massive water pollution. DMCI’s coal-fired power plant in Batangas is a continuing air polluter that is among the 13 power firms to face legal action from the Energy Regulatory Commission for manipulating power rates,” explained Dulce.
Recently, DMCI’s Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) units, paramilitary guards pay rolled by the company’s logging firms in Sultan Kudarat, were suspected in the enforced disappearance of indigenous leader and environmental activist John Calaba. Calaba was an officer in the Manobo group KIDUMA, which opposed DMCI’s logging and mining projects in Sultan Kudarat.
“We must resist and not allow DMCI, which has a long record of environmental crimes, and Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, who was a big commercial logger, to pollute and destroy the pristine environment of Palawan,” Dulce said.
Alvarez is one of the staunch supporters of the Palawan coal power project, and widely known as the one who denuded the forests in Northern Palawan.
“The expensive and dirty coal project of DMCI and Gov. Alvarez has no place in one of the world’s richest biodiversity corridors and hubs of cost-competitive renewable energy,” Dulce added.
The green group noted that there are cleaner yet cheaper sources of energy in the province. According to World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, a proposed hydropower project would sell electricity at P6.59 per kwh, as opposed to the DMCI coal power plant’s proposed P10.51 per kwh with value-added tax included.
“There are cleaner and even more cost-effective alternatives to coal in Palawan, especially if you factor environmental, health and social costs. In fact, Palawan does not need additional power supply from DMCI’s coal given that there is actually a surplus power supply of 16.7-MW in the province,” Dulce noted.
“We are calling for an independent investigation to look into the outstanding risks and negative impacts to the people and the environment by DMCI’s various operations. Government authorities must ensure that companies such as DMCI with such an atrocious environmental and social track record should not be allowed to handle environmentally critical projects,” ended Dulce.
Reference: Leon Dulce – 0917 562 6824
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756
Palawan Deserves Renewable Energy. A Coal Plant is Out of Place in the Country’s Last Ecological Frontier.
Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) Press Statement
5 June 2015
As we celebrate World Environment Day today, June 5th, it is important to highlight Palawan’s continuing fight against the pursuit of coal power.
Contrary to the pretenses of some of our local officials in Palawan, coal is not the answer to the continuing power outages in the province. There is no lack of contracted capacity of power because the existing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in Palawan has a contracted power capacity of some 54MW. The current peak demand in Palawan is about 33-35MW which leaves an excess of 20MW for reserve and back up.
What exists is the failure of these IPPs to provide the guaranteed dependable capacity based on their Power Supply Agreements (PSA) with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO). Glaring is the fact that DMCI, proponent of the coal-fired thermal power plant had 9 diesel engines not functioning, and despite not being able to deliver a huge portion of the guaranteed dependable capacity based on its contract with PALECO, it has transferred some of its working units to stations in Rizal, Quezon and Taytay which are outside of the original contract area.
Following civil society’s engagement with government agencies last year, a masterplan for the energy development of Palawan was prepared and finalized. Based on the Palawan Island Energy Masterplan (PIEMP), the least cost option would be to utilize the renewable energy potential of the province. Potential hydroelectric projects in Palawan have an estimated capacity of 182.47 MW, which can provide energy of up to 959 GWh based on a 60% capacity factor. Integrating coal in the power mix will not result to the least-cost mix of Palawan within the planning period provided in the energy masterplan.
Since 2012 when PALECO entered into a power supply agreement with DMCI which provided for the establishment of a coal-fired thermal power plant, civil society groups and local communities have asserted to our local officials and the Department of Energy (DOE) that a coal plant represents a clear and present danger to the biosphere, the welfare of our citizens and the image of Palawan as the center of biodiversity and environmental conservation in the Philippines.
All we need to do is to look into the experiences of communities in Cebu and Quezon as well as in India, China, USA and Germany to know the adverse environmental, health and livelihood impacts of coal power plants. The true cost of coal power embodies high unpaid health liabilities which must ultimately be paid by our citizens and the government. It shortens lives, reduces labor productivity and is the major source of greenhouse gases leading to climate change.
Existing efforts in Palawan and in the national level to protect Palawan’s biodiversity and enhance its tourism value will be threatened by the environmental and health effects of coal power projects. Almost the whole province of Palawan is included among the 78 tourism development areas being implemented by the National Tourism Development Plan.
The superficial cheapness of coal should not be the only consideration for allowing a coal-fired power plant in Palawan because the risks it brings far outweighs the benefits it can provide to an ecologically rich and sensitive province.
We are disturbed by the efforts to politicize the processes and violate our environmental governance laws in order to expedite the clearances and approvals needed for the establishment of the coal-fired power plant.
We reiterate our call on every Palaweno to send letter-petitions protesting the mockery of our laws and processes to key national officials, the provincial governor, to all the government officials who sit in the PCSD, to the barangay officials of San Isidro, Narra and the municipal officials of Narra. We must continue the battle of the residents of Panacan, Narra and San Juan, Aborlan who resisted this dirty and harmful energy project, and ensure that a coal plant is not built in San Isidro, Narra and anywhere in Palawan.
Catholic Church airs strong opposition to coal mining
6 June 2015
A Philippine Catholic Church official on Friday voiced “strong opposition” to coal mining, saying it may contribute greatly to climate change and endanger the ecosystem and people's health.
National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez lamented the government had been backing mining operations by asking for emergency power.
“In the guise of providing more efficient energy source, higher tax revenues and the so-called greater development, the state and the multinational coal companies are opening another door for Philippines to becoming the major contributor to climate change,” an article on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines news site quoted Gariguez as saying.
Gariguez made this statement during the launch of the “One Million Against Coal Campaign,” which seeks a million signatures to resist the construction of coal-powered plants and coal mines.
The petition likewise seeks to persuade the government to honor its commitment of mitigating climate change effects and preventing natural calamities.
Gariguez added those in power should also not disregard the health and lives of people in favor of the power plants.
He cited showing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants are a primary source of global warming and may have fatal effects on the environment and the people, especially pregnant mothers and their babies.
“The catastrophe we experienced from Typhoon Yolanda, which killed thousands and damaged billions of properties, is proof to this,” he said.
26 new coal plant projects
The CBCP cited data from the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice showing there are 26 new coal plant projects expected to operate in the country by 2020.
One of these is the 1,200-megawatt Atimonan One Energy power plant extension project in Quezon province.
It is expected to be the third coal plant in the province, along with the Mauban and Pagbilao coal plants.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines and the Lucena diocese are protesting the proposal. — Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News
Large-scale mining operation left small island in Bicol severely degraded – study
Agham Press Release
23 June 2015
Preliminary results of a recently concluded environmental investigation mission (EIM) in the island of Rapu-rapu in Albay revealed creeks with very poor water quality and communities still in deep poverty after almost a decade of mining operations in the island. The EIM aims to assess the post-mining environmental and socio-economic situation in the island.
The Rapu-rapu polymetallic project has been in operation from 2005 to 2013. It is currently owned by Korean-dominated KMP Resources, Inc. After it ceased operations, it should have started its decommissioning and rehabilitation activities that aim to remove mining facilities and to improve or at least restore the immediate environment to its state prior to mining operations.
“Based on our observations, whatever facility and intervention the company claims to currently use for decommissioning are inadequate and ineffective," said JM Ayuste, a biologist and member of Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.
The EIM team found indications of continued acid mine drainage (AMD) generation in one of the creeks they analyzed. The said creek, called Ungay Creek, had very low pH values ranging from 3.25-3.42 and had orange-colored substrate. These pH values are way below the DENR standard which is 6.0-9.0 for Class D waters meant for irrigation.
AMD is generated by excavation and subsequent exposure of metal sulfide-rich rocks to oxygen and water. If not managed properly, this process could go on for decades or even centuries. Toxic heavy metals such as lead and copper are usually leached into the water as a consequence of AMD. In fact, previous studies conducted by several groups confirm the presence of lead and copper in some water bodies studied.
Ungay Creek also had very high electric conductivity values ranging from 6653 - 6788 uS/cm. Conductivity can be used to measure the concentration of dissolved ions in the water column, an indication of water pollution. Higher conductivity values indicate increased concentration of these ions. Freshwater streams usually have conductivity values within 100-2000 uS/cm.
"The Department of Natural Resources (DENR) should pressure the mining company to effectively rehabilitate the damaged environs and to compensate the affected communities whose lives and livelihood have been gravely affected by mining operations."
"The case of Rapu-rapu illustrates how the liberalization of our mining industries destroy our environment and subject communities into deeper poverty. We should continue to reject the domination of foreign interests over our patrimony through the Mining Act of 1995 and enact the People's Mining Bill (HB 171) to effectively protect the environment and the people," ended Ayuste.
Reference: JM Ayuste, 0905 925 2964
ADVOCATES OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR THE PEOPLE (AGHAM)
127-B Scout Fuentebella St. corner Sacred Heart, Kamuning, Quezon City
T: +63 2 998 4226
Nevada court blocks Philippine province's Barrick Gold suit
13 June 2015
LAS VEGAS -- A Philippine island province that experienced mining waste disasters in the 1990s lost a final appeal Thursday to have a Nevada state court hear its claim for damages against Barrick Gold Corp.
"This case lacks any bona fide connection to this state," the Nevada Supreme Court said.
A lawyer for the Province of Marinduque said losing the decision on a jurisdictional question only means that he can move to the next step and argue the merits the case in another venue.
"We think it belongs here and that Barrick is every bit the Nevada corporation that most people believe them to be," attorney James McCarthy said. "But whether it's the Philippines or Canada, we're now on the merits."
McCarthy, in Dallas, noted the procedural question took nearly 10 years to decide. He said he didn't immediately know which venue he would seek. He has already taken the case to U.S. federal district and appeals courts, which routed the jurisdiction question back to Nevada. The case was originally filed in Nevada in October 2005.
McCarthy also noted that the Nevada court imposed conditions of dismissal, including the waiver of a time-limit on the claim to ensure that another forum could be found to hear the case.
A Barrick spokesman and Steve Morris, the lawyer who argued the Supreme Court appeal for the company, didn't immediately respond to messages. Morris' wife, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Kristina Pickering, was not involved in the appeal.
The unanimous decision by the six Nevada justices who heard oral arguments in January upheld a Clark County district judge's finding in the case, which originally was filed against Placer Dome Inc., a company Barrick acquired in 2006.
Judge Valerie Adair in Las Vegas decided in 2010 that because Barrick is based in Canada, the case would be better handled in Toronto or in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Placer Dome ceased operations in Marinduque in 1997 after more than 30 years as a minority partner with a Philippine government company, Marcopper Mining Co., and a year after a mine waste pool dam failed.
The lawsuit alleges that a river leading to Marinduque's capital city, Boac, was polluted and millions of tons of waste laden with dangerous arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, nickel and sulfate smothered forests, river basins and coral reefs.
Barrick, which bills itself as the world's largest gold producer, operates on five continents. It owns five mines in Nevada and has a stake in a sixth. Its Nevada operations produce more than 2 million ounces of gold per year.
Gold was selling at $1,181.50 per ounce Thursday. (AP)
Other LGUs may replicate city's mine ban ordinance
By Ace June Rell S. Perez
Sun Star Davao
11 June 2015
A DAVAO City ordinance banning mining operations all over the city may encourage other local government units (LGUs) to do the same.
Zards Gacad, president of the Philippine Society of Mining Engineers (PSME) told Sun.Star Davao in an interview at the sidelines of the 21st Annual Mining Symposium at Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao yesterday, that the banning of mining operations in the city will adversely affect the industry and will encourage other cities and municipalities to replicate such action.
"For sure, it will cause an impact to the (mining) industry and it might also encourage other LGUs to follow the banning. This is bad news because it dampens the development of our mining industry," Gacad said.
But he emphasized that they are not against the city's anti-mining ordinance, which was recently approved by the City Council and signed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.
"We respect the decision and plans of the city but what we are saying here is even without the banning, if the place is classified as a built-up area with a lot of residents like Davao, mining operations is definitely not allowed," he said.
Meanwhile, the Mindanao Association of Mining Engineers, Inc. (Maem) led the annual event in coordination with PSEM, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Davao Region, and Department of Energy (DOE)-Davao.
The event also featured exhibits which showcased the big and small players in the mining industry.
The event carries the theme: "Overcoming Adversities in Energy and Mineral Development thru Responsible Mining."(ASP)
Dirty gold: shocking plight of the Philippines' child miners
12 June 2015
Driven by poverty, the gold miners of the eastern Philippines stop at nothing to dig out a few flecks of the precious metal - including risking the lives of their children.
Air bubbled through the surface of the water making it look like boiling lava, then slowly a head emerged through the bubbles, then a face, a thick plastic tube clenched between his teeth, writes Evan Williams.
It was Gerald, 16, and he had been 30 feet below the surface for three hours, compressed air forced into his lungs by an old petrol-driven pump.
We are on the far east coast of the Philippines' main island of Luzon, Asia's Gold Coast. Gerald had been down there for three hours, chiseling away at a seam of gold bearing rock in a narrow cavern under the river, neck-deep in water.
"I do get afraid," he said, very quietly spoken. "It's hard chiseling and I fear the earth collapsing and getting caught underneath."
Turning a blind eye
Gerald is involved in what's called compressor mining – a form of searching for gold where the miners hold the compressor hose in their teeth, descend 30 or more feet in the completely submerged mine shafts and hack away searching for tiny specs of gold.
If the tube gets blocked, twisted or broken, the air stops and the miner suffocates and drowns. Children are often used as their lungs have not been yet damaged by exhaust fumes sucked into the tubes.
It's so dangerous it has been specifically banned in the Philippines - yet there is little sign of enforcement, and the authorities tell us they feel they need to turn a blind eye to compressor mining as there is no alternative for the 15,000 miners in this region alone to make money to feed their families.
The local mayor tells me they try to intervene but more and more children are forced into gold mining to help their fathers earn just enough to feed their families.
I had seen some pictures of compressor mining but I was not prepared for level of danger to these men and children once I was there.
It was bad enough when I was on the bamboo and palm leaf rig used by the teams to dive from in to the depths below the river surface. To see them disappear beneath the surface in to the gloom.
But then one of the miners agree to put a go-pro camera on his head and follow Gerald down the flooded shaft so we could see the conditions they work in.
The images we got back are some of the most chilling pictures I have seen.
We follow Gerald's face as he dives deeper in the gloom, pushing himself down the narrow bamboo walls of the mine shaft, the tube between his teeth the only lifeline of air pumped from the surface.
For this he earns not more than a few dollars a day but he does it to help feed his five younger brothers and sisters. He doesn't do it every day but is here enough to know the risks.
As he gets deeper, the water turns to black, the sounds eerie. Once he reaches the bottom he swims a further 20 feet under the river bank and emerges in a small cavern neck deep in water.
Here Gerald and the other men chisel the seam of gold-bearing rock, filling bags that are then hauled to the surface by the same men watching their air tubes. The rocks are scoured for even the tiniest spec of gold to be processed with mercury – a poisonous metal causing brain and organ damage, especially in children.
The gold is then largely sold to brokers who repress the process to increase their profits. They sell largely on the black market to avoid taxes, and much of the gold goes to China and then the rest of the world.
Many of the children we met work in gold mining because it helps their fathers almost double what they can earn. Without them, they can't afford to feed and school their large families.
But poverty creates a vicious cycle. The search for gold means many children are missing their education, and without an education they remain trapped in a cycle of poverty... and danger.
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Responding to Evan Williams's film, Nobel peace prize winner Kailash Sayyarthi told Channel 4 News: "Seeing these kind of situations with the children makes me angry.
"Why the international community is failing the children again and again and again? Why and how long we will keep on ignoring our children? How long we can just find an excuse of poverty and keep on killing the lives and innocence of children?"
Mr Sayyarthi said he knew that such practices were taking place: "In a number of countries the children are engaged in different kinds of mining, including gold mining.
"In my own country the children are working almost in similar conditions in mica mining. Of course, there is nothing like compressed mining that I saw today - that I've never seen before. That the children have to get into those deep wells inside the water at the risk of their lives - that is something really very, very upsetting."
The nobel laureate suggested it was shameful that we have created a situation in which "tiny children have a kind of burden in their minds" where they have a moral responsibility to help their parents. And he promised he would raise the issue of compressed mining with the Philippines government.
Children of dirty gold in the Philippines
16 June 2015
DO you ever think about where the gold on your finger or around your neck comes from?
We did and our investigation led to some of the most shocking and haunting images I have ever filmed.
The east coast of the Philippines’ main northern island of Luzon has long been a fabled source of gold.
There are an estimated 300,000 small-scale gold miners in the Philippines, many chipping at gold seams in deep mud, unstable tailings and most shocking deep underwater.
What caught our attention was an image of a teenage boy emerging from muddy water with a thin plastic tube in his mouth. We dug deeper and found he was engaged in what is known as “compressor mining” — an extremely dangerous form of gold mining where the miners submerge themselves in completely flooded tunnels under rivers and along the coast where the chisel out gold bearing rock. The thin tubes pump compressed air in to their lungs — their only lifeline as they work underwater and underground for three hours at a time.
Most shockingly we found that many children are involved in this, sometimes because their lungs have not yet been damaged by the compressor engine fumes that can get sucked into the tubes.
Gold mining occurs all along this coast. We started filming inland, near the village of San Isidoro, with Marcus Donor and his son Mark Antony who had just turned 12. Marcus digs for gold in unstable, muddy soil, the tailings of a long abandoned gold mine further up the mountain.
On a good day he can make about $10 a day by digging out bags of incredibly heavy clay that he then mills for tiny specs of gold. But Marcos can almost double his personal earnings when he gets his son Mark Antony to work with him.
When we met them 12-year-old Mark Antony was digging away at the wall of what looked like a cave of soil above him.
“I know you shouldn’t bring a child here,” father Marcos told me. “It’s very dangerous, the earth could collapse and if it does you will not survive and if that happened to him I would be responsible as I brought him here.”
Quietly spoken Mark Antony told us he was doing it to help his father feed him and his four sisters. “I do it for them,” he said after barely lifting a quarter bag of soil.
Trapped in poverty we had heard of families and children forced in to ever more extreme methods of mining.
To get to them we travelled up the San Isidor-Larap River passed makeshift rigs of bamboo and palm leaves. On one of these we met Nelson Nadia and his team of gold miners.
The rig sits above the water of this tidal river about twenty metres from the riverbank. As we arrived the water above the shaft bubbled like hot lava and then a head appeared.
It was 16-year-old Gerald emerging from about three hours at the bottom. This is compressor mining. To get to their gold Gerald and his team descend ten metres down a completely flooded mineshaft, then another 8 metres in to the riverbank. Here they emerge in a small pocket of air, neck deep in water and chisel rock from a gold-bearing seam just above their heads.
One of the miners agreed to wear a go-pro camera down the shaft to show us the conditions. It was strapped safely on his head so as not to create any more difficulties for him down there.
The images he captured of Gerald descending in to the gloom, the cavern and the mining itself were some of the most astounding pictures I have seen of work anywhere.
When Gerald and the other men descend they only have the thin plastic tube clenched between their teeth through which they receive the compressed air pumped into their lungs. The tubes can easily get twisted, broken or blocked by mud, cutting off the vital air while them men are meters beneath.
Another gold miner, Larry Lasap, told me he had a narrow escape in a recent compressor-mining incident when someone used dynamite down a shaft. He said more than 100 miners died when the explosion ripped out the walls. “Most of them died when the rising water hit electricity lines used for lights,” he said, “It’s very dangerous, accidents happen all the time.”
Larry also regularly pulls his 11-year-old son Joshua out of school to help him mine gold from rocks buried in the mud. He says he needs to do this to feed his six children including two-week-old Nathaniel. “He is a big help to me, Larry told us. “Without him working we couldn’t afford to eat.”
Joshua wants to go back school. “I miss my classmates,” and he doesn’t want to continue mining gold.
Back at Gerald’s site, the images revealed a subterranean working hell. Its claustrophobic, hot pressurised and dangerous.
“It’s hard chiselling,” says Gerald. “I get scared, I worry if the earth collapses and I get trapped underneath.”
The International Labour Organisation says there could be at least 18,000 children working in gold mining. But the real figure could possibly be as high as 100,000 — because this type of mining is illegal and unregulated, so it is difficult to confirm numbers.
And no one knows how many children have died compressor mining.
Once they haul the rock back to the surface the men carefully scour it for rocks containing even the tiniest spec of gold. They then take the rocks to a mill where they are crushed in metal drums into a mud.
We met Marcos Donor and his son Mark Antony at the mill as they were doing just this. But here we found them exposed to another danger. Marcos mixes the milled mud with mercury — a poisonous metal causing organ and brain damage especially in children.
Marcos told me he didn’t think there was any danger from the mercury, so like tens of thousands of small-scale miners here they are exposing themselves and their children unknowingly to this extra danger.
Once the mercury is burnt off — creating dangerous fumes — they have a spec of gold about half the size of a one-cent piece. Today Marcos sold that to the mill owner and local broker for about $12. Not enough to properly look after his family for the week ahead.
The local broker tells me her price is set by bigger brokers further up the chain. But the price the miners get is about fifty per cent below the international gold price and they all told me if they got even some of that mark up they would not have to have their children work for them.
Speaking to the local Mayor Ricarte Padilla, we found that almost all the gold produced here is sold by the bigger brokers on the black market to avoid local taxes. Much of this seems to go to China from where it can be exported around the world.
The sad fact is thousands of children remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and danger. They are being denied a full education to boost the margins their fathers can make from gold mining to feed their children. But by being denied proper education they are being denied options that might get them out of gold mining in the future.
As consumers all we can do is ask more questions on the source of our gold, something the industry doesn’t scrutinise in any proper way.
Meantime the boys and fathers feel trapped.
“I am trying,” says Marcos breaking down in to tears.
“I am doing this to lighten his load,’ says 12-year-old Mark Antony.
Watch Evan William’s story tonight (Tuesday) 9.30pm on Dateline, SBS ONE - http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/children-dirty-gold
Small-scale miners now need to secure consent of communities
Manila Standard - http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/06/10/small-scale-miners-now-need-to-secure-consent-of-communities/
10 June 2015
BAGUIO CITY—Small-scale miners in the region wanting to renew their contracts or those applying for new contracts within declared Minahang Bayan sites now have to secure the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of their host communities before being issued permits to operate small-scale mines in their areas.
Engineer Faye W. Apil, regional technical director of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR), said the revised implementing guidelines of Republic Act (RA) 7076 or the Small-Scale Mining Act now also requires small-scale mining operators to have their centralized processing plant complete with amenities and tailings storage facility to ensure lesser impact of their pocket mining operations.
This will also allow government regulators to constantly monitor their compliance to health, environment and safety standards.
Apil said that like large-scale mining operators, small-scale mining contractors are also mandated to have their own community development projects for their host communities to make sure that they bring back portions of their income for the development of their host and neighboring communities and the local residents.
At the same time, the MGB-CAR official revealed small-scale miners are also obligated to have their respective environmental protection and enhancement program similar to that of the requirements for large-scale mining operations in order to ensure that the state of the environment in the areas where they are doing pocket mining will be enhanced and sustained for the benefit of the present and future generations.
According to her, small-scale mining contracts have a lifespan of two years, thus, those small-scale mining operators who will be renewing their contracts or those who will be applying for new concessions will undergo the stringent procedures required by the revised implementing rules and regulations.
Mining in limbo till at least mid-2016
By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Reporter
Business World Online
21 June 2015
THE MINING SECTOR will remain closed to new investors at least until the Aquino administration ends its term at the close of June next year, as a new revenue-sharing bill that would reopen the industry cannot be approved by the current Congress.
The House of Representatives has yet to start deliberations on the proposed new mining fiscal regime designed to increase the government’s share in the industry.
House Bill No. 5367 provides that the government, as “owner of the minerals,” gets 10% of a miner’s gross revenues or a 55% share in adjusted net mining revenue yearly, whichever is higher; as well as 60% of profit above a net revenue threshold.
Business groups have opposed the move to raise the government’s share, arguing that the country’s mining industry is already heavily taxed compared to competitors and that the new proposal could prod even current investors to relocate elsewhere.
Malacañang has repeatedly pressed for the bill’s approval in Congress, as its enactment will lift the moratorium on new mining permits that has been in place since 2011 and extended indefinitely through Executive Order (EO) 79 signed on July 6, 2012.
But the bill has not been taken up by the House so far, even as it was one of the priorities identified for the chamber’s May-June session that has just ended. The 16th Congress convenes for its third and last regular session on July 27 -- the day President Benigno S.C. Aquino III delivers his final State of the Nation Address.
Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. said in an interview last week that the measure will now have to wait until next year, hinting at very slim chances for its approval in the current Congress.
“It’s now pending with us. That’s one of the bills that will probably have to wait until next year because there are basic differences between business and government on that one,” Mr. Belmonte said.
“I was hoping that we can come to a middle ground between the two of them, but so far there has been no middle ground,” Mr. Belmonte added.
“It will probably be just heard and nothing more.”
House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Rep. Romero Federico S. Quimbo of Marikina (2nd district) said separately that the committee is still collating data from stakeholders before starting public hearings.
“What the committee needs to decide on, as well as the DoF (Department of Finance), is the objective,” Mr. Quimbo said on the sidelines of a recent committee hearing.
“There are only three things we have to decide on: either it’s a bill that curbs mining -- meaning we don’t want to urge [sic] mining, or is it going to be a bill that will raise revenues, or is it a bill that seeks to strengthen large-scale mining over the unproductive and damaging small-scale (counterparts)?”
To recall, the measure provides that the government’s share will be in lieu of corporate income tax, royalty to indigenous cultural communities, duties on imported specialized capital mining equipment, mayor’s fee and/or business permits “and other fees and charges imposed by host local government units.”
However, mining companies will still have to pay other duties: value added tax, capital gains tax, stock transaction tax, documentary stamp tax, withholding tax on passive income, donor’s tax, environmental fee, real property tax, Securities and Exchange Commission fee, water usage fee, as well as administrative and judicial cost and penalty.
Industry players insist that Congress’ apparent hesitation reflected problems of the draft law being pushed by the Malacañang-created Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).
Nelia C. Halcon, executive director of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said via text: “When even Congress cannot find a middle ground between what the government wants and what business is capable to give, it means there is a need to study deeply the complexities of the mining business.”
“New investments will be hard to come by and investors will remain on a wait-and-see attitude [sic] or look for better alternatives -- as our competitiveness suffers and we lose opportunities.”
Ian W. Porter, vice-president of the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ANZCham), said separately that failure to pass the measure would force investors to look elsewhere. “There will be no new mining investment. Investors and mining companies will go elsewhere and the Philippines will be off the radar (screen) for decades.”
The ANZCham is home to a number of firms operating large-scale mining projects locally.
Mr. Porter pressed the government instead to fully implement Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. “The 1995 law is excellent. The problem is not the law but proper and full enforcement. Illegal mining is booming and will continue to do so under the present mining regime.”
Ms. Halcon shared Mr. Porter’s view, even describing the 1995 law as “one of the world’s best.”
The House committee now plans to start hearings on the bill when sessions resume in July.
The Constitution provides that all tax measures must emanate from the House before they can be picked up by the Senate.
But time is running out with only seven months left for the 16th Congress, as it is expected to close in early February to give way to campaigns for the May 9, 2016 national elections.
‘Not Intended to Kill the Industry’
Sought for comment, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director and MICC member Leo L. Jasareno described the delay in acting on the bill as “unfortunate.”
“That will mean no new mining contracts. That’s the sad consequence,” Mr. Jasareno said in a telephone interview.
“EO 79 was not intended to kill the mining industry,” he stressed.
“If the prospect of a new law is dim, there has to be alternatives,” Mr. Jasareno added, while refusing to disclose what steps the Executive would take to ease the prolonged uncertainty.
The Executive has been banking on the new measure to increase the state’s share in mining revenues and promote environmentally “responsible” practices, as the existing taxation scheme is deemed “disadvantageous” to the government.
Under the Philippine Mining Act, the government gets a 50% share in profits of foreign miners operating in the Philippines under Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements, and a 2% excise tax on actual market value of output under MPSAs with local companies.
On April 2, however, the Environment department issued an order that allows area expansion for existing mining exploration projects. Mr. Jasareno said this was the solution “in the meantime” to allow existing large-scale mining activities to continue despite the ban on new permits.
“We take the position of the MICC that its proposed bill is very competitive,” Mr. Jasareno said, adding that he was “still hopeful” that Congress will be able to come up with a “reasonable” law for the sector.
Latest available MGB data show mining investments totaled some $6.93 million in the first half of last year and amounted to an upwardly revised $1.453 billion in 2013, up 57.68% from $921.7 million in 2012 -- the year EO 79 was issued.
That executive order’s impact on investments was graphically demonstrated by the fact that 2012’s haul was a 23% drop from 2011’s $1.197.3 billion. The same data show that, prior to 2012, mining investments had been on a general uptrend -- except in 2008 -- since 2006.
The sector contributed just 0.58% to gross domestic product in 2010-2013, according to the first Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Country Report last year that deemed this low “relative to its potential.” The Philippines ranks the fifth most mineralized country in the world with reserves estimated to be worth $1.387 trillion, the same report added. Some $840 billion of metallic ore, however, remain untapped.
House OKs bills on mining-free zones
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star
22 June 2015
MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has approved eight bills declaring two cities in Mindanao and five provinces as well as one congressional district as mining-free zones.
The authors of the bill said mining has been statistically proven to be one of the most environmentally destructive industries.
The measures under consideration by the Senate include those authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez, Maximo Rodriguez Jr., Isidro Ungab, Cesar Sarmiento, Carlos Padilla, Ben Evardone, Deogracias Ramos Jr., Joseph Gilbert Violago and Rogelio Espina.
The measures were sponsored by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas, chairman of the House committee on natural resources.
The areas sought to be declared as mining-free zones are the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao; the provinces of Catanduanes, Nueva Viscaya, Eastern Samar, Nueva Ecija, and Biliran; and the 2nd District of Sorsogon.
The authors cited the constitutional mandate “to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
“Mining has adverse effects both to humans and the environment. Aside from adding toxic chemicals to the ore, it strips off large areas of topsoil of all flora and fauna,” they said.
The lawmakers said apart from destroying the natural beauty of the environment, mining displaces communities, causes landslides, pollutes water sources and contributes to the greenhouse effect and climate change, among others.
The bills provide penalties ranging from six years to 12 years imprisonment and fines ranging from P100,000 to P500,000.