MAC: Mines and Communities

'Our Resistance, Our Hope' - International People's Mining Conference

Published by MAC on 2015-08-03
Source: Statements, Bulatlat, UCANews (2015-08-01)

Editors from the Mines & Communities network joined activists from over 29 countries and six continents at the 2015 International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM) for three days of talks, workshops and planning in Manila, Philippines.

Some press statements and articles from the conference follow, although a final draft of a unity statement is still to be completed.

A global unity forged to resist devastation of global mining liberalization

International Peoples Mining Conference 2105 release

1 August 2015

‘Our Resistance, Our Hope’: A global unity forged to resist devastation of global mining liberalization

After three days of extensive discussions, shared stories, and strategic planning, a global unity has been forged by more than 140 representatives of mining-affected communities, people’s organizations and other concerned groups and individuals from over 29 countries and six continents who have come together in the International People’s Conference on Mining 2015 (IPCM) held from July 30 to August 1, 2015 in Quezon City, Philippines.

In a unity statement released on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the Philex mine spill, one of the historically largest mine spill disasters in the world that occurred in the province of Benguet in the Philippines, we the participants of the IPCM expressed our growing collective awareness of the crisis in the global mining industry, and have witnessed its victimization of the people and the environment.

We are conscious of mining projects and their collaborators increasingly aggravating mining liberalization, inequitable tax regimes, and investor-state agreements, seeking massive profits and becoming more reckless in their production processes, neglecting with impunity the safety of their workers, affected communities, and the environment.

This convergence of various experiences of resistance and struggle, gaining lessons from victories as well as defeats, has brought us inspiration and hope, and has given us steadfast resolve to stop the further onslaught of imperialist mining plunder and greed against the people and the environment.

Towards this end, we thus commit ourselves to engage in people’s campaigns and researches on destructive mining vis-à-vis climate change, human rights violations, ecological and health impacts, national mining policies, corporate and financial aspects of mining activities, and the engagement of emerging economies in international mining.

We seek to coordinate and strengthen legal actions and policy advocacies towards the repeal of mining liberalization laws, and the development and enforcement of positive laws that promote and protect the rights of the people. Towards this end, we support the initiative towards the creation of an international center for legal research on destructive mining.

We aim to strengthen science-based tools and methods that can be adapted to empower local communities to monitor the environmental and health impacts of mining, towards strengthening support networks by scientists to mine-affected communities.

We unite to forge solidarity among various social movements and sectors towards strengthening and expanding our networks, building capacities especially among mining-affected communities, towards the establishment of a global coordinating mechanism that can serve as a point of confluence for various networks and initiatives across the globe.

We hope that in working separately in our own contexts and countries, and together through coordinated international actions and solidarity to heighten our collective resistance for the defense of rights, environment and a common future, will bring forth triumph for people over profit, nature over neoliberal mining policies, and for social justice to prevail over death and destruction.

Reference:

Clemente Bautista – 0922 844 9787
Member, IPCM International Coordinating Body
National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE


Activists from 28 countries address destructive impact of mining

They advocate for a UN treaty that will let people sue mining corporations

Joe Torres

http://www.ucanews.com/news/activists-from-28-countries-address-destruct

31 July 2015

Manila – Anti-mining activists from 28 countries have formulated a “people’s global mechanism” to address the destructive impact of mining.

The activists, who were part of the July 30-Aug 1 International People’s Conference on Mining in Manila, said they will present the mechanism before the United Nations later this year.

“We will advocate for a binding treaty in the UN that will give rights to the people to sue mining corporations and hold them accountable for violations and crimes,” said Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

Bautista, a conference organizer, said they will also propose the formation of a UN commission or rapporteur on extractive industries.

“On the national level, we want to improve local and national laws that will be at par to international standards,” said lawyer Selcuk Kozagacli, chairman of the Progressive Lawyers Association in Turkey.

He said there were cases in the past where erring mining companies leave the countries after violations have been committed.

“With an international mechanism. We can join forces and file cases in an international tribunal,” Kozagacli told ucanews.com. “Now more than ever do we need a united people’s struggle worldwide to defend the people’s rights and environment.”

Maria Antoni Recinos, a rural environment activist from El Salvador, said there is a need for “international solidarity” in the campaign against destructive industries.

“Governments must take concrete measures where there is exploitation, especially in countries where destructive mining companies operate,” she said.

Gabriel Sheanopa Manyangadze of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches said that with the support of an international alliance they will “escalate the campaign to continental levels” and work with their network of churches.

The meeting in Manila discussed how the current economic crisis, experienced by the global mining industry, will impact local communities.

Host country Philippines served as a microcosm of the global mining crisis.

Large-scale mining in the Philippines grew from 17 operations in 1997 to 46 at present and has generated US$28.6 billion worth of minerals in terms of total production value in the same time.

“Such industry growth, enjoyed only by a handful of transnational mining corporations, comes at the cost of people’s lives, livelihood and environment,” said Bautista.

In Pope Francis’s recently released encyclical, Laudato si’ (Praise be to you — On Care For Our Common Home), addressed to every person on the planet, he blamed human greed for the critical situation “Our Sister, mother Earth” now finds herself in.


Churches urged to play role in fight against mining

Divestment is a tool to keep companies in check, activists say

Joe Torres

http://www.ucanews.com/news/churches-urged-to-play-role-in-fight-against...

30 July 2015

Manila – Environmental activists attending an international mining conference in Manila are calling on church officials to play an important role in the fight against destructive mining.

“The church, especially the Catholic Church, has an important role … especially in uniting people,” said Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

Bautista, one of the organizers of the conference, said it would be “encouraging” if local churches divest their investments in the mining industry, especially after Pope Francis issued his encyclical, Laudato si’.

“[Divesting the church’s investments in mining] would be a concrete action consistent with their vow to protect the environment and to the teachings of Laudato si’,” he said.

Bautista cited the example made by several Philippine dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Manila, which withdrew their investments in mining companies.

Some 200 residents of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, church workers, lawyers, legislators, artists, environmental activists and scientists from 28 different countries attended the International People’s Conference on Mining that opened in Manila on July 30.

“My presence here is a blessing,” said Philippine Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, who has been vocal in opposing mining and coal plant operations in his archdiocese.

The prelate, however, said it is “unfortunate” that while political leaders neglect the destruction brought about by mining, “the great majority of people either don’t know enough or they don’t care.”

Arguelles said the church is “working hard to get the people’s support” and described Laudato si’ as “a big vindication and a big help.”

“Before Laudato si’, we felt alienated,” he said, adding that even other bishops did not support his advocacy.

“Now I feel that the Holy Father and the whole church is behind me,” he said.

Sacred Heart Fr Claude Mostowik, director of the Justice and Peace Center of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Australia, said this week’s meeting in Manila “will put perspective to stories of people from communities affected by mining.”

“The important thing is to hear the stories and relate them to the situation back home,” he said.

Mostowik said many Australians have never heard how Australian mining companies were impacting the lives of people in countries like the Philippines.

“I was struck by the contrast between what the companies claim about human values and human rights and the protection of the environment, and you look at the affected communities and it’s a mess,” he told ucanews.com.

The conference this week comes on the heels of the recent pull-out of Anglo-Swiss mining firm Glencore, the biggest mining corporation in the world, from the Tampakan mining project in Mindanao.

“The meeting will be a stage for the celebration of such victories,” said Bautista, adding that they aim to gather “inspiration and lessons from such successes.”


International People’s Conference on Mining tackles global challenges, highlights people’s resistance

IPCM Press Release

31 July 2015

Quezon City, Philippines—More than 140 activists, advocates, and leaders across 28 countries are in the process of formulating a people’s global mechanism to address the destructive impacts of mining liberalization at the International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM) being held since July 30 at the Hive Hotel.

“Framed on concrete people’s experiences and equipped with science-based tools during the opening plenaries, IPCM participants seek to come up with international, regional, and subregional campaigns and coordinating bodies to address mining plunder and destruction across the globe,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the PH-based Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, one of the lead organizers of the IPCM.

Speakers extensively discussed the bearing of the current economic crisis experienced by the global mining industry. Host country Philippines served as a microcosm of the global mining crisis, as it grapples with 20 years of mining liberalization under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 that was imposed through structural adjustment programs of international financing institutions World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“Under the auspices of mining liberalization, large-scale mining in the Philippines skyrocketed from 17 operations in 1997 to 46 at present and has generated PHP1.31 trillion worth of minerals in terms of total production value in the same time. Such industry growth, enjoyed only by a handful of mining transnational corporations (TNCs), comes at the cost of people’s lives, livelihood and environment,” explained Bautista.

Mine disasters, deaths a global trend

With mineral prices generally in a down trend and with a sharp decrease in net profit, productivity and market value since 2011, large-scale mines have resorted to utilizing cheaper mining technologies such as open-pit and mountaintop removal mining, and drastically cutting costs in terms of environmental safety and workers welfare.

“The recent tragedy in the Philippines’ Semirara coal mine is the latest in a worsening global trend of mining disasters brought about by the clear criminal negligence by mining TNCs. Just last year, more than 300 of my countrymen perished in one of the world’s largest mining disasters in the Soma coal mine, and justice presently remains elusive. Now more than ever do we need a united people’s struggle worldwide to defend the people’s rights and environment,” said Atty. Selçuk Kozağaçlı, chairperson of the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD-Turkey) and legal counsel of the victims’ families in the Soma underground mine fire in Turkey.

Representatives from North America, Latin America, Africa, West Pacific, and Asia affirmed the trends of crisis in their sharing of their respective regional mining situationers.

The spectre of Chinese mining

IPCM participants also noted the spread of Chinese mining across the globe. Consuming more than 25 percent of the world’s metal supplies and accounting for as much as 40-50 percent of global mineral commodity demand, China is expected to affect the entire mining industry as it currently faces an unprecedented economic slowdown.

“China’s growing aggression is not only in the shoals of the South China Sea, but in the expansion of Chinese mining interests across the world as well. There are said to be more than 24 Chinese mining companies in the Philippines ranging from black sand to gold and copper. Both the oil-and-gas-driven maritime aggression and the mineral plunder are perceived to be linked to China’s attempt to bolster its industrial production, especially in its burgeoning military industrial complex,” Bautista noted.

According to Ki Bagus Hadi Kusuma, campaigner of the Indonesia-based JATAM Mining Advocacy Network, “Chinese mining corporations in the Indonesia have earned a bad reputation for their lack of due diligence over environmental concerns. Hongkong-based iron mining company has been illegally operating in Bangka Island in Northern Sulawesi, which is a known diverse and rich marine ecosystem that is part of the famed Coral Triangle.”

The Coral Triangle is a roughly triangular marine corridor spanning the countries of Indonesia, Magalaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste that contains at least 500 coral species in each ecoregion. Large-scale mining threats abound in most of these littoral countries, such as Canadian mining company MRL-Egerton and Norwegian firm Intex Resources in the Philippines, and the controversial Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea.

Heightening people’s struggles

A running narrative in the IPCM talks and workshops, however, demonstrated a growing people’s resistance that is effectively opposing the adverse impacts to society and environment by large-scale mining.

“The backdrop of the IPCM is the heightening people’s struggles against mining liberalization and plunder, from the strong opposition to mining projects around the Verde Island Passage, the ‘center of the center’ of marine biodiversity in the world, to the pull-out of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore amidst huge protests and people’s armed defense,” said Bautista.

In his keynote address at the first day of the IPCM, Atty. Kozağaçlı said that “we should not forget the fact that it is the determined, relentless, pure greed of profit that we are up against,” highlighting the need to uphold people’s rights against mining liberalization interests.

“The rising trend of resource nationalism by governments, such as in the ban of certain mineral exports in Indonesia, is compelled by the sustained protest of people’s movements demanding that mining should benefit people and planet, not big business profits. The people’s actions are truly making the difference,” added Kusuma.

The IPCM participants are currently planning resolutions and proposals to consolidate and coordinate various campaign efforts towards establishing a global campaign mechanism, including the plans for internationally-coordinated actions, solidarity and skills exchanges, and a challenge to the United Nations to establish a people’s assembly to address issues surrounding extractive industries.

Among the key campaigns the IPCM are uniting on is a globally-coordinated campaign against the OceanaGold mining corporation, involving host countries Philippines, El Salvador, Canada, and Australia; a presentation of recorded human rights violations in the Anglo-Swiss Glencore mining company’s Tampakan project in the Philippines to an International People’s Tribunal, to be held in London in March 2016.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan, spokesperson of IPCM – 0922 844 9787

The IPCM is jointly organized by various environmental and social movements in the Philippines and the world, namely the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang Mining Advocacy Network (Indonesia), Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, EcuVoice Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pacific Asia Resource Centre, London Mining Network, Geneeskunde Derde Wereld (Belgium), War on Want (United Kingdom), Australia Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Solidagro (Belgium), Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Commission 13.

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


International People’s Conference on Mining 2015: A Call for International Solidarity against Destructive Mining

International People’s Conference on Mining 2015 (IPCM) press statement

21 July 2015

Unified in addressing various people’s concerns on destructive mining across the globe, various environmental advocates, campaigners, and grassroots leaders worldwide will be launching the International People’s Conference on Mining 2015 (IPCM) in Quezon City, Philippines from July 30 to August 1, with the theme “Highlighting people’s lives and struggles in defense of rights, the environment and a common future: An international conference of mining communities and peoples.”

The IPCM aims to stimulate international inquiry, individual and collective action, and multi-sectoral discourse on the worsening impacts of global mining liberalization. A series of thought-provoking discussions and empowering workshops, the IPCM is an opportunity to assess the global mining situation, share experiences and lessons from people’s struggles, and strengthen the call for a global mining that is shaped by the people’s demands and aspirations.

The host country, Philippines, will conduct Learning and Solidarity Missions in the mine-affected communities in the provinces of Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya to concretely demonstrate the experiences of people’s struggles against large-scale mining in the Philippines.

Around 100 participants from 28 different countries are expected to join the conference, composed residents of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, church workers, lawyers, legislators, artists, alternative media practitioners, environmental activists, and scientists, among others.

This historic gathering is a point of confluence for heightening resistance to destructive, foreign mining in the Philippines that are of global significance. Various people’s movements are rising to oppose mining threats across the coastal provinces of the Verde Island Passage, the global ‘center of the center’ of marine biodiversity, alongside different campaigns against destructive mining across the entire Pacific Coral Triangle.

The IPCM also comes on the heels of the recent pull-out of Anglo-Swiss mining firm Glencore—the biggest mining corporation in the world with various projects and offices across North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and —from the Tampakan mining project in Mindanao.

The IPCM will be a stage for the celebration of such victories and advancements in the people’s struggles against the destructive impacts of large-scale mining. We aim to gather inspiration and lessons from such successes as the opposition of the Diaguita indigenous community of the Chilean Atacama against the Barrick Gold open-pit mine in their ancestral lands in 2013, or the Dongria Kondh tribe rejection of the London-based Vedanta Resources’ bauxite mine in India.

Various other leaders, experts, and campaigners will grace the plenary and workshops of the IPCM. Among them is Atty. Selcuk Kocagacli, the chairperson of ÇHD-Turkey and counsel for the victims of the 2014 Soma Coal Mine fire disaster in Turkey, who will deliver the keynote address highlighting the importance of the defense of people’s rights and the environment.

Environmental geochemist Prof. Ron Watkins, director of the Environmental Inorganic Geochemistry Group (EIGG) of Curtin University, is a leading expert on the nature and management of mining pollution, and will be discussing the risks that communities face in amidst mining operations.

Catherine Coumans, the Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, is a long-time campaigner who witnessed firsthand the negative impacts of the Marcopper mining project now currently owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold. Coumans will present an outlook of global corporate mining and its challenges to mining campaigners.

The IPCM is jointly organized by various environmental and social movements in the Philippines and the world, namely the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang Mining Advocacy Network (Indonesia), Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, EcuVoice Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pacific Asia Resource Centre, London Mining Network, Geneeskunde Derde Wereld (Belgium), War on Want (United Kingdom), Australia Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Solidagro (Belgium), Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Commission 13.

Reference:

Clemente Bautista
National Coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
Co-Coordinator, IPCM 2015 Media Committee
ipcm.media[at]gmail.com | 0922 844 9787 | www.peoplesminingconf.net


Global activists share courage, hope in mining confab

“All communities in the world will be able to organize, and stop all projects that are against life.”

Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat

5 August 2015

A recently-concluded international conference held here gave firm footing to environmental activists linking arms across the world to fight the same mining giants – like many Davids coming together to bring down a Goliath.

“This conference gives space to strengthen networks against monsters represented by mining companies,” said Maria Antonia Recinos, a young community journalist from El Salvador.

Recinos was one of at least 140 delegates from 29 countries who gathered at theInternational People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM), held in Quezon City from July 29 to Aug.1.

Many of the delegates came from formerly colonized countries that now bear witness to the destruction and plunder by mining giants, while some came right from the home base of those big companies. They all shared a common courage, and hope, in their fight to make corporations and governments accountable for environmental crimes.

Although they brought with them grim stories of human rights violations, destruction of communities and ecosystem in their respective countries, the IPCM also served as a well of courage, as the delegates raised each other’s spirit, and strengthened their dedication, as they head back to their own struggles.

“This convergence of various experiences of resistance and struggle, gaining lessons from victories as well as defeats, has brought us inspiration and hope, and has given us steadfast resolve to stop the further onslaught of imperialist mining plunder and greed against the people and the environment,” said Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment coordinator, in a media release at the end of the conference.

Voice of victory

Among the “monsters” Recinos referred to is OceanaGold, a Canadian-Australian transnational corporation (TNC), present in her home in Sta. Marta village, Cavañas state in El Salvador.

OceanaGold took over Pacific Rim, a Canadian TNC, whose exploration for gold in El Salvador was revoked by the El Salvadorian government in 2008. In retaliation, OceanaGold sued El Salvador for $301 million.

“Even only in the exploration stage, 20 water systems dried up in the process,” Recinos told Bulatlat.com. As early as 1990, the San Sebastian river in La Union was already contaminated, she said.

This was confirmed in an environmental assessment by the government in 2012, which found cyanide and iron contamination in the San Sebastian river.

In 2008, then El Salvador President Antonio Saca denied all applications for mining permits, in a de facto ban on mining in the country, to protect its water supply. El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Latin America, with more than 6 million population in 21,000 square kilometre of land. A high percentage of its surface water contaminated, caused by decades of metallic mining by big, foreign companies.

OceanaGold sued El Salvador at the World-Bank tribunal, International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (Icsid), initially for its violation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta). It later shifted its grounds for complaint, claiming El Salvador violated its own investment laws.

Recinos said the mining company put up El Dorado Foundation, which funded schools and fiestas, to convince the state to give permission to continue mining. The foundation even offered to give Radio Victoria $8,000 a month, to publicize the company. The staff of Radio Victoria firmly rejected it.

Then in 2009, the attacks on the station started.

“The station was robbed,” Recinos said. Electronic equipment at the station were stolen and destroyed.Threatening text and calls against the staff began pouring in. “It’s because Radio Victoria was one of the radio stations informing the people of the impact of OceanaGold,” she said.

“Radio Victoria put microphones on communities, this caused the radio to be chased and threatened by the enterprise,” she said.
By the end of 2009, three activists were murdered: Marcelo Rivera, who was abducted and found dead in June; Ramiro Rivera, who was shot dead on Dec. 20, and Dora Recinos Sorto, eight months pregnant, who was shot dead on Dec. 26.

Recinos said that although she was spared from receiving threats, she felt trauma, “being in a role where people are attacked.” Many of her colleagues received threats, she said. At present, there is still no legislation banning mining in El Salvador, and OceanaGold is still there, waiting to resume operations.

Recinos, however, said their struggle continues. “We are a small country, but big in resistance and hope,” she said.

In the Philippines, OceanaGold is the same TNC whose mining operations in Didipio village, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya had been confirmed to have caused high levels of copper concentration in Dinaoyan river in the immediate vicinity of the mines.

The company continues to operate, in spite of a recommendation by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights for its withdrawal in the community, after finding it guilty of human rights violations.

‘We have bones too’

“We are an island of gold, floating in a sea of oil, powered by natural gas, but the people are poor,” said Patrick Yepe Loambaia, 48, an indigenous Duna of Lake Kopiago in Hela province, Papua New Guinea, in his presentation at the IPCM.

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the indigenous landowners face Barrick Gold, the corporation which took over the mining operations of Placer Dome, the same Canadian mining transnational corporation (TNC), accountable for the Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque in the Philippines.

Lombaia was a former accounts manager of Placer Dome corporation from 1989 to 1995. Now the director of the Papua New Guinea Mining Watch Group Association Inc., Lombaia said he transformed into a human rights advocate after the company accused him of siding with the landowners who sought compensation from the company.

“I decided to quit a good-paying job and stand up for the rights of the people, because government allows companies to dump all toxic waste into the rivers of the country,” he said at the conference.

Landowners refer to the dominantly indigenous peasants who occupy 97 percent of Papua New Guinea’s lands, with only three percent owned by the state, Lombaia said. Eighty percent of PNG’s 7.6 million population live in the rural areas, and depend on the river systems.

“The land is borrowed by the state for the 20 years of mine life, while people live in poverty with the rising cost of living,” he said. “My people heavily rely on the Porgera river, which has lost all economic activity.”

Various groups have also documented grave human rights violations, such as killings, gang rape and torture, committed by Barrick Gold security guards and state forces against the population, who had to resort to scavenging at the mine dump site after loss of livelihood due to the pollution.

In 1996, Lombaia became the executive officer of Porgera River Alluvial Miners’ Association (Prama), which negotiated for compensation from the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV), which Barrick Gold co-owns with the state. The PJV offered 750,000 PNG kina ($300,000), which Prama rejected.

The PNG environment and conservation ministry then ordered the payment of 15.2 million kina ($750,000), but Prama again rejected it because 6 million kina would go to landowners who were not party to the negotiation, and were inserted by the PJV, Lombaia said.

Even as the case was pending, PJV started paying selected landowners, Lombaia said.

The company’s action enraged other landowners, who then stormed Placer Dome’s headquarters.

“We organized ourselves, we armed ourselves to fight the company, to pressure it to stop the payments,” Lombaia said.
Four people were shot dead by the police who moved in, and dozens were arrested, including Lombaia. He was detained for six months on arson charges.

At present, Barrick Gold has sold 50 percent of its shares to the Chinese mining company Shinjin, and Lombaia said Prama had filed for a court order to stop its further sales. As for the compensation case, Lombaia said they are set to arrive at an out-of-court settlement this August.

Lombaia was one of the IPCM delegates who visited the community affected by OceanaGold’s mining in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, where like in PNG, peasants suffer the same loss of livelihood due to mine tailings contamination in their farms and water.

“The state has responsibility to protect its citizens. The state should look into it, if the citizens are benefiting from the projects, the impact on the surrounding, if its conducive to the people or not,” told Bulatlat.com.

Asked if he was threatened by the company or government in the past 20 years of his struggle, Lombaia told Bulatlat.com:

“They have bones, but I also have bones, why should I fear?”

Stick together

The IPCM delegates broke into interchanging laughter and amazement in the presentation of Benedictine Sister Stella Matutina, of the Defenders and Advocates of Environment, Creation and Patrimony in Mindanao (Panalipdan Mindanao) on July 31.

The feisty Matutina was even able to make light of the trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention filed by the state forces against her, Ryan Lariba, another IPCM delegate, and 21 other progressives in Mindanao, in connection with the Lumad evacuation.

“We are also (endangered) species, they’re trying to kill us, you know the laws of biodiversity because there are very few sisters now you can see in the street,” she joked.

The cheery nun included in her presentation a picture of her hand, rust-colored after dipping in the nickel laterite-contaminated water, which she said moved her to tears. The color was hard to wash off, she said, just like the mining giants, which “resurrect” in spite of suffering assault from armed rebels.

“Finding ways how to stop mining, it’s like (suntok) sa buwan, I don’t know how you English that,” she joked again.

In reaction, a delegate asked others at the conference to raise their hands in solidarity with Matutina.

“These are the hands that are with you, and I want to assure you, that we will continue to fight this together. This is what we need to show the world, and this is why we have to stick together,” said Daniel, a delegate from Africa.
For El Salvadorian Recinos, she said being with other environmentalists, who are also weathering attacks and hardship, makes her feel at home.

“I feel like I’m in a community,” she said.

“All communities in the world will be able to organize, and stop all projects that are against life,” Recinos said, full of hope


 

Mining TNCs wouldn’t succeed in plundering natural resources without support from national governments

http://counterview.org/2015/08/01/mining-tncs-wouldnt-succeed-in-plundering-natural-resources-without-support-from-national-governments/

1 August 2015

Excerpts from the keynote address at the International People’s Mining Conference by Dr Carol P Araullo, chairperson, New Patriotic Alliance or Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Philippines, at Quezon City, on July 30, 2015:

The Philippines serves as a microcosm of how globalization or neoliberal policies on mining lead to massive landgrabbing, rapid depletion of natural resources, devastation of the environment, wholesale displacement of communities, intensified militarization and grievous human rights violations.

Last July 17, the biggest coal mine in the Philippines had a mine accident killing 9 miners. In 2013, 5 mine workers suffered the same fate in the same mine. The company is owned by DMConsunji Inc (DMCI) which also operates a nickel mine. Bothmines have a blackened record of serious violations of laws protecting the environment resulting in toxic contamination of water resources and degradation of marine ecosystems in their areas of operation. Despite these violations and the “accidents” claiming miners’ lives, the PH government has allowed DMCI to continue its operations except for short periods when perfunctory investigation into the cause of accidents are carried out.

These are the same violations and other worse crimes that mining communities in different countries have seen. In South Africa, 34 striking mine workers were killed and 78 others were injured when they were fired upon by police and security forces of UK-owned Lonmin mining company in August 2012. A study published in the “Journal of Community Health” (July 2011) recorded 60,000 additional cases of cancer among the 1.2million people living in areas adjoining the sites of open pit mining in central Appalachian communities of the eastern United States.

In Papua New Guinea, BHP Billiton’s open-pit Ok Tedi Mine has caused massive environmental degradation and pollution of the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers and their adjacent ecosystems. This wasdue to the irresponsible and deliberate discharge of two billion tons of mine wastes from 1984-2013. In West Papua, Indonesia, mining giants Rio Tinto and Freeport-McMoran are reported to have initially poured in $35 million for military infrastructure and vehicles and paid at least $20 million to state securityforces from 1998 to 2004 to quell opposition against its Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest gold mine.

In China, coal miners are one of the most exploited and have one of the worst working conditions. There wasa total of 589 accidents and 1,049 deaths in the coal mining industry in 2013 alone. In 2011 and 2012, 3,357 mine workers were killed in mine accidents according to the China Labour Bulletin (CLB).

Over the last decade, more than 560 million acres (227 million hectares) in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, previously dedicated to food production, are now being used for biofuel production and mineral extraction. Whether you are from resource-rich but economically poor countries in Asia, Africa or Latin America, the stories are the same: large-scale mining projects of transnational mining companies or mining TNCs daily violate Mother Nature, plunder the country’s natural resources and cause untold human suffering.

Large-scale mining companies and their financiers’ thirst for more gargantuan profits is unquenchable. They need to grab more lands for extraction and they need to produce minerals in the cheapest way possible. They continue to search for places where they can wantonly deplete resources using cheap and docile labor. Without this, the global mining industry, beset by chronic crisis, cannot sustain itself.

Neoliberalization of the mining industry

Their solution is the application of neoliberal policies to the mining industry. A liberalized industry ensures that foreign corporations have the same rights as domestic ones in exploiting the natural resources in a specific country. Privatization ensures that the private sector (read: transnational corporations and local partners) controls the mining industry while deregulation eliminates state interventionor reduces it to the minimum.

In the 1990s, more than 80 countries changed their mining regimes upon the lobby of foreign giant mining corporations and the dictates of international financial institutions (IFIs) like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organizations (WTO). Neoliberal mining policies allowed the privatization of state-owned mining firms. These institutionalized the free flow of foreign investments to local mining allowing full foreign ownership of mining corporations and lands in the host country. Capital control and other forms of regulation were lifted; generous tax breaks, granted; andlegitimation and legalization of measures to quell local opposition to mining activities, provided.

Local mineral production was further oriented to and dictated by the international market and not by the particular needs of each country. This means being held hostage to the vagaries of international trading wherein metal prices rise and fall based on the dictates ofa few mining giants, their financiers and the IFIs.

One example is Peru. In Mining Mountains, Jeffrey Bury recounts that in 1991 the Peruvian government opened the mining industry to foreign investment along with lifting restrictions on land ownership, remittances of profits, dividends, and royalties, access to domestic credit, and capital importation. In addition the government offered foreign investors tax-stability packages for a ten to fifteen-yearduration and implemented wide-ranging privatization programs that eliminated competition from state-owned and domestic firms.

In a short period of time, Peru’s mining industry became dominated by foreign and private corporations and tied to the international market. Between 1992 and 2000 more than 200 state-owned mining operations were privatized. In 1999, private corporations accounted for 95% of mineral production, up from 55% in 1990, less than ten years previous. Pedictably, 10 foreign mining corporations are among Peru’s Top 100 corporations.

Mining TNCs clearly cannot get away with their plundering ways if national governments do not follow neoliberal prescriptions and policies. In order to land grab millions of hectares of lands, extract millions of tons of minerals, destroy the natural landscape and further impoverish the people, mining TNCs need to be backed up by governments, and through armed means, if need be, via police and military forces.

In the Philippines, the ongoing liberalization of the mining industry has contributed to the worsening of the pre-industrial and backward economy of the country. The extraction of mineral resources for export has resulted not only to environmental devastation but greater poverty and inequality. From 1995-2014, 19 major mining disasters and contamination incidents were recorded. From 2001-2015, 82 environmental activists mostly anti-mining activists were victims of extrajudicial killings.

Mining crisis

The global mining industry has been facing worsening crisis since the start of the decade. The oversupply of mineral products and decreasing prices has brought about a drastic drop in profits. Commodity prices continued to suffer hefty blows, with iron ore, coal, and copper prices falling 50%, 26% and 11%, respectively. This decline continued in the first four months of 2015, as the price of iron ore, coal, and copper fell even further.

How then can we explain why there is a crisis in the global mining industry when there is a surplus of mineral products that can be extracted at lower cost?It only means that when there is a production surplus versus lowered demand, the price of the mineral products become too cheap. This then constitutes a serious problem for the capitalists, i.e. the mining TNCs. They must continue to find ways tofurther lower production costs, increase the demand and raise the price of mineral products in order to sustain if not increase their profit.

To do so, the mining TNCs demand lower taxes and government royalty shares along withmore lax environmental laws and overall regulatory environment. They insist on lower wages and benefits for mine workers, more job insecurity and lower occupational safety standards. To manipulate supply, they can even resort to delaying their projects or shuttingdown some of their mines.

Nonetheless, mining companies continue to develop their production technology and processes in order to remain competitive. They even boast of utilizing such advances to paper over the constant threats to workers’ lives and health and to the environment inherent in the industry.

The massacre of mine workers’ jobs was intensely felt after the 2008 global financial crisis. Accordng tothe global mineworkers federation, ICEM, in 2010,”from Russia to Chile, at Europe’s largest zinc deposits in Ireland’s County Meath, where 670 were retrenched by Tara Mines, to the hundreds of thousands of migrant miners across the world who are out of work with no place to go, it is workers who are paying the unjust price of capital’s failure” [ICEM, Brussels, 12 January 2010].

As mining TNCs ramp up their production to increase their sales volumeand recover from the downturn in metal prices, mining TNCs become more reckless in their production processes often violating safety standards for their workers, affected communities and the environment.

As to the demand for minerals in the global market, mining TNCs and their financiers are increasingly engaged in speculation in the commodity futures market. According to IBON Foundation, “The global mining industry, just like the major drivers of monopoly capitalism, relies on fictitious capital to surmount the crisis…” It simply means that current demand and value of minerals are not based on actual products produced but on speculation and are thus fictitious and unreliable.

This month, The Guardian reported that in China,iron ore prices have plunged to a six-year low as the commodity gets caught up in the fallout from China’s massive sharemarket plunge, with steel now reportedly cheaper per tonne than cabbage. At this price level, mining companies in Australia will operate at a loss while some iron ores mines in China have already closed.

In 2000, the global mining industry had identified China as the world’s most vital single market for its ferrous and nonferrous metals and fossil fuels. This remains to be the case as China accounts for 40%-50% of global commodity demand. More recently, China has itself become the leading producer and consumer of gold, copper, iron, and coal.

According to PwC, prices decreased by 6% in 2014 due to the combination of additional supply and weaker demand growth, primarily from China. The impact on the sector has led to a drop in revenues for the Top 40, from $728 billion in 2013 to $690 billion in 2014.

People’s resistance and the anti-mining movement

As the crisis of the global mining industry intensifies, how will the social movements for workers’ rights, environmental protection, indigenous people’s rights to their land, for asserting the rights and welfare of mining communities and for upholding human rights in general confront the situation and struggle to prevail against the odds? How will people’s movements for economic sovereignty, food security and development justice square with the plunderers, despoilers and their powerful protectors in the international, national and local levels?

We can look to our own experiences and derive lessons from our struggles, both our victories and defeats. For despite the increasingly exploitative and ever more repressive thrust of the global mining industry, people’s resistance continues to gather strength particularly among indigenous peoples and among the peasantry and other rural poor communities.

In the Philippines, the 4th biggest global mining company Anglo-Swiss Glencore has started to pull out from the long-delayed $5.6 billion Tampakan Gold Mining project. (Tampakan in South Cotobato is the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposit in South East Asia.) This decision was primarily drivenby the strong resistance of the affected communities that employedvarious means including armed defense to protect their lands and the surrounding environment. In 2010 the South Cotabato local government enacted a Provincial Environmental Code which banned open pit mining in the Province.

In India, British resource giant Vedanta and its partner Orissa Mining failed to convince tribal people of the Dongria Kondh villages in the state of Odisha to allow their bauxite mining. Though the government gave the go signal to South Korean-owned POSCO’s USD $12 billion coal mine project in Odisha, it has been delayed for the past eight years because of strong community resistance.

Prafulla Samantra, a prominent social activist in Odisha, shared an inspiring account. He said that from 2006-2009 environmental clearance was given to 120 mining projects in Jharkhand and Odisha, India. These mineral-rich areas are home to the poorest of the poor, mostly Adivasis and Dalits. The state has launched a brutal campaign of repression against all the democratic movements that oppose handing over the land, water and forests to profit-hungry corporations. But the peasants, workers and Adivasis of Odisha have refused to buckle under state pressure; they have put up stiff resistance to corporate plunder and forcible eviction all over the state. Niyamgiri, Jagatsinghpur and Kalinga Nagar have become advanced outposts of anti-imperialist resistance, which inspire all the progressive and democratic forces fighting neoliberalism in India.

In West Papua, Indonesia, Papuans continue to oppose the mining operations of Freeport Macmoran, for decades. The mining concession is the most militarized area in Indonesia, causing human rights violations and environmental destruction in one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Their struggle against the landgrabbing and plunder of Freeport Macmoran is interlinked with their struggle for national liberation.

China Labor Bulletin has documented 235 incidents of strikes or worker protests in the second quarter of 2014. This represents a 49% hike over the same period last year. In the first half of 2014, CLB monitored 7 big strikes and actions which were participated in by thousands of coal mine workers in different regions across China.

In 2010, the Costa Rica Congress legislated the banning of all future open-pit metal mining in their country and in 2013, Costa Rica’s highest court upheld the ban. It makes Costa Rica the first country in Latin America to say no to future open pit mines.

In El Salvador, the government stopped granting gold mining permits since 2008 to preserve its water resources. It revoked the mining permit of Australian- Canadian owned mining company OceanaGold-Pacific Rim. In 2009 the mining company filed a lawsuitwith the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the El Salvador government asking US$301 million damages. But this did not deter the national government and the El Savador people as they standfirm in their opposition to gold mining in their country.Still, thepending case in El Salvador provides a previewas to what can be expected if controversial trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) go through.

There are so many more heroic struggles of indigenous peoples, peasants, mine workers, environmentalists, human rights advocates and church people in Africa, America, Asia and Europe but their message is the same: Mining TNCs cannot plunder the common resources as before; the people are rising, steadfast intheir struggles and fast gaining ground.


Historic int’l confab links global resistance vs mining TNCs, liberalization

By Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat.com

“This historic gathering is a point of convergence for our heightened resistance to the intensifying plunder by mining TNCs under the rubric of neoliberal globalization.”

31 July 2015

MANILA – In defense of the rights of peoples and communities against destructive large-scale mining all over the world, some 140 internationalists gathered in Quezon City on July 30 for a landmark global linking of arms.

The International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM), gathered indigenous peoples, scientists, church workers, economists, environmentalists and other progressives, “to assess the global mining situation, share experiences and lessons from people’s struggles, and strengthen the call for a global mining that is shaped by the people’s demands and aspirations,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the IPCM lead organizers.

Some 80 delegates came from the Philippines, while the rest came from 28 countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, and from Latin American and African countries.

Many of the delegates were victims of human rights violations resulting from state repression of communities opposed to mining, such as the Manobo women from Mindanao, who had repeatedly evacuated from their homes due to militarization and encroachment of mining companies in their ancestral lands. There were also former political prisoners who figured in campaigns against mining, such as Davao-based scientist Kim Gargar, and Patrick Yepe Lombaia of Papua New Guinea.

Some of the delegates arrived from visiting communities in Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya, in a mission to learn the impact of destructive large-scale mining on the environment and the people, and in solidarity with the communities’ resistance.

“In the midst of the worsening crisis of the global mining industry, coupled with the strengthening of the peoples’ movement opposed to it, we as representatives of mining-affected communities, people’s organizations, and other concerned groups and individuals are gathered here today in this landmark International People’s Conference on Mining,” said Dr. Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in her keynote address.

“This historic gathering is a point of convergence for our heightened resistance to the intensifying plunder by mining TNCs under the rubric of neoliberal globalization,” she said.

The IPCM runs up to August 1.

“We are here because we hear the cries of the nature and our future that is being relentlessly destroyed. We have received the invitations of thousands of murdered people, of the villages, forests, polluted rivers and seas and the destroyed agricultural fields,” said Sel?uk Koza?a?li, a Turkish people’s lawyer from the Progressive Lawyers Association.

Araullo said that as the global mining industry undergoes a crisis, it pushes even more liberalization of government policies, giving control of local mining industries to big companies, who wantonly conduct their extractive activities at the expense of people’s lives and the environment.

This, however, sets the condition for people’s resistance, not just against the plunder by mining companies, but for national liberation.

“Mining TNCs no longer can plunder the common resources as before, the people are rising steadfast in their struggles and fast gaining ground,” Araullo said.

The IPCM was organized by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang Mining Advocacy Network (Indonesia), Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, EcuVoice Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pacific Asia Resource Centre, London Mining Network, Geneeskunde Derde Wereld (Belgium), War on Want (United Kingdom), Australia Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Solidagro (Belgium), Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Commission 13.


Stronger int’l solidarity to confront mining TNCs

“There is no improvement in the quality of life in countries with mining.”

By Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat.com

1 August 2015

MANILA – Mining-affected communities, environment and human rights defenders, scientists, church workers, and other progressives are looking towards a stronger, wider international solidarity that will confront mining transnational corporations (TNCs) around the world.

Delegates to the International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM) said the gathering paves the way to close ranks and face common “monsters”: the mining TNCs, which have caused human rights violations, environmental degradation, loss of lives, homes and livelihood in mining disasters, in exchange for corporate profit.

“Companies use the same method all over the world to prevent us from acting. We may unite, not through the laws, but through struggles. International solidarity is the most effective force against mining companies. What we need is to unify the resistance of the people,” said Selcuk Kozagacli, chairperson of the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD-Turkey), at the IPCM press conference on July 31.

Among efforts discussed at the IPCM are “coordinated campaigns” against mining liberalization, and against specific TNCs, such as OceanaGold, Adani, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Revanta, and Barrick Gold.

“The Philippines, Canada, Australia and El Salvador will come out with coordinated campaigns to kick OceanaGold out of their respective countries,” Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), told the media.

He said that the Philippine and Indonesian groups will also work together in a campaign to protect the Coral Triangle, which includes the Verde Island Passage between Batangas and Mindoro, and the Bangka island in Sumatra, Indonesia which is being threatened by Chinese mining.

The IPCM also discussed efforts to make mining TNCs accountable before international bodies and tribunals. Bautista said groups from the Philippines, Colombia and Peru will be filing a case against Glencore corporation before the International People’s Tribunal to be held in London in March 2016.

He said the IPCM “will advocate for a treaty that will give rights to people and sue private corporations and hold them accountable for violations and crimes.” Bautista said they would also work for the formation of a commission or a special rapporteur at the United Nations that will cover rights against environmental destruction by mining, fuel and fossil gas projects.

Kozagacli said the groups could collaborate to brings cases of “crimes against humanity” committed by mining companies. “To pressure and improve local and national laws to reach international standards, is the main framework of our legal efforts,” he said.

“We must jointly consider the victims of mining disasters in the Philippines and Turkey, Semirara and Soma,” Kozagacli said, adding that there will be united efforts to make mining corporations pay for disasters they caused, such as the DMCI which owns the coal mine in Semirara, Antique.

The Turkish laywer is the legal counsel for the victims in the Soma Coal mine fire accident in 2014, which killed 301 workers.

Kozagacli said the mining disasters are more like “crimes,” not accidents, caused by “privatization, lack of control, safety negligence, and disrespect to workers’ lives” He said that in Turkey, mining disaster victims “are considered as goods to be purchased,” as companies calculate the cost of potential deaths in possible disasters every 10 years.

Geophysicist Dr. Mark Muller, a member of the London Mining Network, said the IPCM served as venue for scientists who are prepared to work with communities to discuss ways to assist in making mining companies accountable for causing environmental destruction. He said they are eyeing the formation of a “global network of people’s scientists” that will provide technical information to communities to help them assess environmental impact of mining, to possibly support cases against companies.

Giving voice to communities

“There is no improvement in the quality of life in countries with mining,” said Gabriel Sheanopa Manyangadze, director of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and board member of the Economic Justice Network.

Manyangadze lamented that minerals extracted by European mining companies in Africa were not used to develop the industries within the continent, but rather those in Europe – a common predicament for other backward countries whose resources are plundered by mining TNCs.

He said African groups are preparing for an alternative mining conference to take place in Cape Town in 2016.

The delegates said the conference helps strengthen the different groups, as they continue to organize in communities, expand network, and campaign against large-scale destructive mining.

“This conference gives space to strengthen networks against monsters,” said Maria Antonia Recinos, a community journalist of Radio Victoria and member of Ades, from Sta. Marta in El Salvador.

“This single voice will be a tool for us, to demand enterprises and states in international tribunals…to stop the situation now where people are paying for damages caused by companies. This kind of space gives strength and ratifies our fight for justice,” said Recinos.

In one of the workshop groups, the IPCM also highlighted successful struggles in pushing back mining TNCs. In Southern Mindanao, Anglo-Swiss company Glencore recently sold all its shares and withdrew from the Tampakan copper-gold project after its 14 years of exploration had faced fierce resistance from indigenous B’laans and other groups.

“Our land, our minerals our rights,” a workshop group stressed.

The IPCM was held from July 30 and ends today, Aug. 1.

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