MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Glencore finalises its Tampakan departure

Published by MAC on 2015-08-18
Source: Statements, Business World, Sun Star, PDI, Rappler (2015-08-18)

Further to our most recent posting the Philippines (see: Philippines: Glencore quits the Tampakan Project), Glencore has confirmed the sale of its shares in the Tampakan project (for what appears to be a substantial loss). Why the company should wish to quit seems obvious. Even as the Government seems to be redoubling efforts to over-ride South Cotabato's ordinance banning open-pit mining, local concerns continue to be voiced. The most recent pronouncement comes from the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced persons, who visited the area, expressing concern for those local indigenous peoples affected by the project.

There has been yet another disaster at the coal mine on Semirara Island in Antique, where heavy rains led to a deadly landslide. Various commentators have been calling for the closure of the mine, just compensation for the families of the deceased and a re-think of national mining policy, given the continued fatal accidents associated with the new so-called 'responsible mining'. The mine's suspension has not stopped mine-owner Semirara expanding its coal fired power stations, boosting the market for its own coal.

The Philippines has played host to a number of international activists attending the International People's Mining Conference (see: 'Our Resistance, Our Hope' - International People's Mining Conference), with many touring local mining sites of struggle. One of the presenters at the conference, the mining activist Sister Stella Matutina, has been honoured with a human rights award from Weimar, Germany.

The campaign against mining and coal plant operations in Verde Island Passage has gained commitments from politicians and church officials in both Batangas and Mindoro, with a call for a declaration of the whole Verde Passage as a protected area.

In other areas, indigenous communities in Mankayan, Benguet, continue to protest that their right to free, prior and informed consent has been ignored in Lepanto's expansion. The nearby municipality of Kibungan is attempting to declare itself a large-scale mining-free zone, while other small-scale miners are fighting to have restrictions lifted.

In Nueva Vizcaya, indigenous residents who sold land to make way for OceanaGold's Didipio mine have since been swindled out of their money. At Marinduque, the Court of Appeals has agreed to a class suit filed by fishermen seeking damages against Marcopper Mining Corporation for the notorious tailings dam collapse.

In Surigao, the town of Cantilan has been celebrating its resistance to the encroachment of nickel mining companies. On the island of Manicani, Hinatuan Mining Corp. has been ordered to remove dangerous stockpiles.

The Government's Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is strengthening its Joint Fact Finding Committee on Illegal Mining. It has also suspended and cancelled licenses in Zambales and other provinces, as well as promising to confiscate stockpiles of magnetite sand seized in Pangasinan. The Governor of Zambales is facing graft charges for allegedly issuing permits to mining companies without authority.

All these concerns are fuelling the national campaign for the scrapping of the 1995 Mining Act, even as the industry also lobbies the Government over its relative inaction in supporting them. Still, the Treasury noted that revenue from mining in the first half of 2015 was much reduced, despite the suffering and problems it has caused.

Glencore completes Tampakan exit

By Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano, Senior Reporter

Business World

15 August 2015

ANGLO-SWISS miner Glencore plc has completed its exit from the long-delayed Tampakan gold-copper project in Mindanao in a $290-million deal that also covered two other mining assets abroad, it announced on Friday.

Glencore "has completed the sale of the Tampakan copper project," it said in a statement dated Aug. 14 and posted on its Website.

The buyer was an affiliate of Indophil Resources NL, a miner previously listed in Australia until its takeover this year by the Philippines' Alsons Group.

Together, Glencore (62.5%) and Indophil (37.5%) used to own the 40% controlling stake in Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), which in turn runs the $5.9-billion Tampakan project.

Friday's announcement came two months after Glencore and the Indophil agreed, through a share sale agreement, on the former's divestment of its stake in the mining venture.

Tampakan Mining Corp. and Southcot Mining Corp. own the remaining 60% interest in SMI.

Besides its interest in the Philippine asset, Glencore said it also sold its interest in the Falcondo nickel operation in the Dominican Republic and the Sipilou nickel project in Brazil.

"The assets were inherited from Xstrata following the completion of the takeover in May 2013," the company said, adding: "The total proceeds raised from the sales are approximately $290 million."

Further information on the transaction was not immediately available on Friday.

Glencore's divestment from Tampakan -- touted as potentially the largest foreign divestment in the Philippines to day -- was announced last June.

Its exit from the mining project followed the disposal of subsidiary Glencore Queensland Ltd.'s 13.1% interest in Indophil last January to Alsons Prime Investments Corp. (APIC).

Besides Glencore, other Philippine companies that sold their Indophil interests to APIC are: Philex Mining Corp. (1.30%) and Matutum Consolidated Mining Corp. (0.54%).

The Tampakan 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.


Tampakan mines project still a go despite activist deaths, UN concern

By Inday Espina Varona

ABS-CBN News

4 August 2015

MANILA - Ten murders; local government opposition; environmental warnings; a United Nations official’s alarm over the displacement of thousands of rural folk -- there’s no stopping the controversial Tampakan mines project in Central Mindanao.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes told ABS-CBNnews.com the National Mining Coordinating Council decided to ignore the province’s opposition to Tampakan.

Avance-Fuentes denied reports that Malacanang green-lighted the Tampakan project.

But the mining council has dismissed the province’s environment code, which bans open-pit mining, she confirmed in a phone interview.

“They are leaving us alone to oppose the project,” Avance-Fuentes said, citing a report by the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), which sits on the council. "The onus is on us."

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo L. Jasareno confirmed Avance-Fuentes’ claim although he did discuss [not] the reported council resolution.

He told ABS-CBNnews.com the Philippine government would honor two contracts with Sagittarius Mines to explore and eventually mine a wide swathe of rugged land, ancestral home of the lumad peoples.

Tampakan sprawls across border towns of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani provinces.

“It continues to be a project because the mining contract between Sagittarius Mines and the Philippine government is valid and existing,” Jasareno said in a phone interview.

Under two contracts, Jasareno added, Sagitarrius has “obligations” to pursue exploration and, eventually, mining operations.

UN Official 'Alarmed'

Jasareno’s statements came days after a UN official expressed concern on the growing displacement of indigenous peoples due to development projects.

Dr. Chaloka Beyani, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said the projects affecting some 5,000 indigenous peoples did not meet the threshold of "compelling and overriding public interest.”

The UN official visited several areas in Mindanao during a fact-finding mission from July 21 to 31.

“I was alarmed that tribal leaders reported that their communities were consistently being manipulated and divided and that they had been harassed and received threats when they expressed their opposition,” Beyani told reporters.

“Indeed some leaders and members of the indigenous communities have been killed over the past years reportedly due to their anti-mining activities," the special rapporteur added.

Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) expressed outrage over developments, saying Tampakan could emerge as one the most destructive large-scale mines in Asia.

The IPs have paid a high price in their years of opposing the merger of multinational firms and local investors led by the powerful Alcantara clan.

“Tampakan’s trail of blood has sprawled from South Cotabato to Davao del Sur, since 1992,” Kalikasan national coordinator Clemente Bautista told ABS-CBNnews.com.

Since 2010, the conflict has killed 10 people, including an Italian missionary priest, and intermittently displaced thousands of families.

At stake are 24,000 hectares of ancestral lands, forests, and agricultural lands of indigenous people and peasants. The prize for investors: an estimated 2.4 billion metric tons of copper-gold deposits.

Sagittarius’ initial financial and technical assistance agreement signed by the Office of the President allows for the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of an estimated average of 360,000 ounces of gold and 375,000 tons of copper per annum. The open pit would spread across 500 hectares with a depth of 785 meters.

'No Opposition'

Barely a week after Malacanang asked the Department of Environment and Narural Resources to review the environmental compliance certificate of Tampakan, the agency gave its final approval in February 2013.

A release by the DENR on the ECC approval quoted Secretary Ramon Paje as saying, “the area does not cover those where mining is prohibited.”

Sagittarius, the DENR secretary said, needs to “ensure social acceptability through consultation with stakeholders.”

The government, however, now believes Tampakan has received enough endorsement from affected communities.

“Walang oposisyon,” Jasareno said. (There is no opposition.) He said local councils in six towns, including Tampakan, endorsed the mining concession.

Of the four provinces, he added, the legislative councils of Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani gave the green light to Tampakan.

Barangay or village councils in most towns also approved the project, Jasareno said.

“It’s on the record. The project secured the endorsements of all sangguinang bayans,” he told ABS-CBNnews.com.

Under the law, he pointed out, Sagittarius can continue its activities. It is completing the requirements for a mining permit, the MGB head said.

Volatile Mix of Issues

Among the most critical areas: IP, agrarian reform and security issues. It’s a volatile mix -- the frequent sparks of conflicts.

Beyani said IP leaders are frustrated by the lack of consultation processes that meet the standards of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). He said IPs scored the government process for ignoring their broader views and rights to the land and the need to safeguard their indigenous cultures and lifestyles.

“The legitimate concerns and rights of indigenous peoples must not be side-lined but should be given the upmost priority as indicated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),” the UN official reminded the government.

The ECC also mandates following regulations on the disposal of toxic and solid wastes, vegetative restoration, engineering structure, land use, and soil and water management, and erosion control.

The controversy forced Sagittarius to defer the start of commercial operations from 2016 to 2019.

Glencore Xstrata, an Anglo-Swiss conglomerate pulled out last month from the gold-copper project, said to be the largest foreign direct investment in the country. Its Australian partner, Indophil, has divested at the start of the year, ceding shares in Sagittarius Mines, Inc. to the Alsons Prime Investments Corp.

This leaves the powerful Alcantara clan, which has long ties to the family of President Benigno Aquino III, as a major player in Sagittarius.

Jasareno said even with the ECC, Sagittarius needs to comply with rules and regulations. But he said the agency had not yet found any violation.

With the government’s reiterated blessings, Sagittarius may be close to meeting its close of 2015 construction timetable. And in the central part the island of promise may, mountains will once more howl in grief and rage.


Aquino’s ‘null, void’ declaration of South Cotabato mining ban a gross disrespect of UN Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

3 August 2015

Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) expressed its outrage over news that Pres. Noynoy Aquino has nullified the environmental code in South Cotabato province that prohibits open-pit mining operations, and that Aquino ordered the Department on Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to process the resumption of the Tampakan mining project, one of the potentially largest and most destructive large-scale mines in Asia.

“Aquino’s brazen voidance of the environmental code in South Cotabato to give way to the Tampakan mine coincided with the released statement of Dr. Chaloka Beyani, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, expressing alarm over deception, killings and rights violations towards indigenous peoples in the controversial project. This is a gross disrespect not only to the UN rapporteur, but most especially to the communities, institutions and people’s movements who continue to suffer from and resist militarization and displacement that the Tampakan mine has been inflicting for more than two decades in Mindanao,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

Dr. Beyani conducted his official visit from July 21 to 31 this year to look into various cases of socio-economic displacement in the Philippines, including communities rendered homeless by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and bakwits (evacuees) from Mindanao due to armed conflict and development aggression.

In his statement, Dr. Beyani said “The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement require a threshold of ‘compelling and overriding public interest’ in order for development-induced displacement to take place. This does not appear to be apparent in this case.” Dr. Beyani further said that he “urge[d] the Government, in consultation with indigenous peoples themselves, to give greater attention to addressing the causes of displacement whether it be due to the militarization of their areas or due to development projects.”

Despite the recent reiteration by the South Cotabato local government that it is holding its ground in its decision to not allow open pit mining in the province, the same technology to be utilized by the Tampakan mine, a news report quoted South Cotabato governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes saying that Malacanang has declared the environmental code null and void.

Fuentes said the provincial government will pursue legal cases if the mining project, owned by the Sagittarius Mines Inc. and local big business group Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) will continue its operations. The Tampakan projects is previously owned by Anglo-Swiss giant Glencore, which recently pulled out its investments amidst varying forms of massive people’s resistance.

“We support the local government’s pronouncement that it will dig in and persist with its opposition to the Tampakan open-pit mine. We have proven our people power when we kicked out Glencore from Mindanao, and we must strengthen the people’s resistance further to ensure the defense our communities, ecosystems, and natural resources,” said Bautista.

The issue of the Tampakan mine was raised as a main concern in the recently concluded International People’s Conference on Mining 2015, held in Quezon City, Philippines, in which more than 140 participants from over 29 countries gathered to discuss and strategize various mining concerns and campaigns.

“Despite its pull-out, Glencore is still accountable for the ongoing social costs and persisting environmental threats of the Tampakan mine as it played a significant role in utilizing atrocious tactics in attempting to push the project towards commercial operations. We will work together with the various groups across the globe from the recently held International People’s Conference on Mining to coordinate efforts in holding Glencore and the Aquino government to their ongoing crimes to the people and the environment,” said Bautista.

"This further exposes Aquino as a haciendero bureaucrat who criminally neglected our people and environment, and will come down in Philippine history as one of the worst lame duck puppets of foreign miners and plunderers we ever had in Malacanang," ended Bautista.#

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


Philippines: South Cotabato maintains ban on open pit mining

By Edwin Espejo

http://asiancorrespondent.com/134358/philippines-south-cotabato-maintains-ban-on-open-pit-mining/

27 July 2015

The provincial government of South Cotabato is holding its ground on its decision not to allow open pit mining in any part in the province, putting again on hold the future of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI).

SMI owns the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project located in the mountainous area of Tampakan in South Cotabato.

In a resolution passed on July 21, the provincial board “reaffirmed the validity of Section 22 (B) of the Environment Code that prohibited the use of the open-pit mining method in mining activities” anywhere in South Cotabato.

The Provincial Environment Code was passed in 2010, which was signed by then outgoing Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes.

Fuentes, who regained her post as provincial governor in 2013, said she “fully supports the provincial board’s stand on the open-pit mining ban.”

Provincial Board Member Ellen Grace Subere-Albios however said they have not totally banned mining in the province but only regulated it “through methods that would not gravely endanger and adversely impact the environment.”

The Tampakan project covers over 9,000 hectares of vegetated mountain range that straddles the towns of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur and Tampakan in South Cotabato.

The local legislative body claimed SMI operations could cause massive deforestation, loss of biodiversity, degradation of lands and the depletion of the water resources of surrounding communities.

SMI however has repeatedly assured critics that it is taking its environmental responsibilities very seriously.

“We understand that mine waste and water management are important issues for our stakeholders and they form an important part of our design, operation and rehabilitation plans for the Project,” SMI said in its website.

According to SMI studies indicate royalty payments and direct contributions in excess of PhP39.8 billion ($1.2B) would be made to local communities and indigenous groups over the Project’s life in addition to the excise and other taxes it will pay to the national government.

The US$5.6B Tampakan project is reputed to contain Asia’s largest untapped copper deposits with estimated 2.94 billion tons at a grade of 0.51% copper and 0.19 grams per tonne gold, using a cut-off grade of 0.2%.

“This represents 15.0 million tonnes of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold,” according to SMI.

SMI recently underwent several corporate turnovers with the Alcantara-led Filipino investment company Alson’s Prime Investment Corporation acquiring the 62.5 percent stake of world commodities giant Glencore International in SMI only last June.

Sources however said the Alsons takeover will not be completed until next month.

In January this year, Alsons also secured the 37.5 percent minority stake of Indophil Resources NL in SMI at a cost of US$296 million that was paid in cash.

Before the provincial government passed the environmental ordinance in 2013 banning open pit mining, SMI announced it was going to start commercial operations in 2018.

But Glencore, which gained control over SMI after booting out Xstrata Plc from the project in 2013 as part of its US$75 billion hostile takeover of the world’s 4th largest copper producer, decided to scale down SMI operations after failing to secure the nod of the provincial government.

Glencore likewise said it was hesitant to further finance ‘greenfield’ projects.

At the time Glencore took over SMI, the project has not gone beyond completion of its feasibility studies and exploration activities.

-------------------------------------------------

B’laan antimining leader arrested

Tribal warrior wanted for killings

Inquirer Mindanao

19 July 2015

GENERAL SANTOS CITY—B’laan tribal leader and antimining activist Daguil Capion, who had eluded a massive manhunt by government forces for years after he was charged with banditry and murder, fell into the hands of police in Malungon, Sarangani.

Chief Insp. Jaime Tabucon, Malungon police chief, said Capion, who violently opposed mining activities in Tampakan, South Cotabato, was attending a fiesta celebration in Malungon on Wednesday when spotted.

“Maybe, he thought that our law enforcers would not recognize him anymore,” Tabucon said.

He said Capion was arrested based on a warrant issued by a Koronadal City judge for his alleged involvement in the March 2011 ambush in Tampakan, in which three persons were killed.

He had since been turned over to the Tampakan police, Tabucon added.

Capion was the object of a massive manhunt in South Cotabato and Davao del Sur since 2012 following the issuance of a warrant against him.

In one operation, soldiers killed instead his wife, Juvy, and their two sons.

In 2013, his brother Kitari was killed in what Capion described as a treachery.

Kitari, he said, was killed while brokering his surrender.

B’laan’s struggle

Capion has become a symbol of the B’laan’s struggle against the destruction of their tribal community by the multibillion-dollar project of mining giant Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in the boundaries of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao Del Sur and Sarangani.

The military said Capion had continued eluding arrest because the New People’s Army provided him sanctuary.

Waiting for intervention

In 2013, he told the Inquirer that even if his wife and brother had been killed, he was determined to surrender but was only waiting for the intervention of “an honest and trusted government official.”

Apparently, that official never arrived as he continued to hide and led his followers in attacks against SMI and government forces in the areas of Tampakan and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

“We are ready to die for our struggle,” he said then.

“We are only trying to protect our right to existence within the domain that our forebears left for us to care for our tribe,” Capion added.

The Capions, who descended from a long line of traditional B’laan leaders, maintain that SMI has caused dislocation among B’laan communities and that its operations threatened the livelihood of the natives. Aquiles Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao

---------------------------------------------

6 killed, 3 missing in Semirara mining mishap

CNN Philippines

18 July 2015

Metro Manila — Six miners had been confirmed dead after a landslide hit a coal mine in Semirara Island in Antique.

Roderick Train of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said on Saturday (July 18) that the latest body was recovered at 11 a.m.

So far, the bodies recovered and identified were Alexander Nudo Arnold Omac, Ricardo Panes, Dicson Daupan, Bernie Manrique and Jeneroso Talaro.

Still missing were Danilo Bayhon, Noel Penolla and Ian Catulay.

Meanwhile, those who survived the mishap were Brendo Tuarez, Nelson Villamor, Patrick Morgado, Renan Entible and Ricardo Cabrera.

Before this, Ricky Lavega, a representative of the provincial government said the landslide happened around 4 a.m early Friday morning (July 17).

Lavega said the weather was fine and there was no rain since the other day on the island, contrary to an earlier report that steady rain had been pouring over the area for days.

An estimated 50 people were said to be working at the coal mine for the night shift when the landslide took place.

Operated by the DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI), the Semirara coal mine operation was temporarily suspended last February 13, 2013 after a similar incident killed five workers then.

The Department of Energy (DOE) had ordered Semirara to suspend operations pending an investigation into the incident.


IBON: Coal pit accident another argument for junking Mining Act

By Alexander T. Magno

CNN Philippines

20 July 2015

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The death of at least six coal miners, who were buried by a landslide in Antique on Friday (July 17), again underscored the risks posed to both human lives and the environment by large-scale mining, research group IBON Foundation said in a statement posted on its website on Sunday (July 19).

"This should compel government to repeal Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995," IBON said. "The law has allowed the operation of big local and foreign corporations in large-scale mining nationwide, undermining farming and indigenous communities and compromising the Philippine environment."

The landslide on Friday caused the north wall of the Semirara Panian open mine pit to collapse, burying nine workers — six of them confirmed dead, while three others remained missing.

This is the second major accident at the Panian pit. On February 14, 2013, the west wall of the same pit collapsed, killing at least five miners.

The mine, which IBON said is the country's largest coal producer, is owned by Semirara Mining & Power Corp., a subsidiary of DMCI Holdings, Inc.

Shortly after Friday's accident, the Department of Energy (DOE) ordered Semirara to suspend its operations pending an investigation.

Semirara issued the following statement:

"Management has condoled with the families of the victims and is giving them full support.

"It is also coordinating with national and local authorities to keep them updated on the search and rescue efforts and other necessary measures including ensuring the adequate supply of coal for power generation since it has stopped operations in the affected area in compliance with an order from the Department of Energy.

"The company is investigating the cause of the accident in coordination with authorities."
'Full responsibility'

A day after, Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda issued statements calling for a thorough probe of the incident and urging the government and mining companies to work together to put in place tougher measures to ensure the safety of miners.

Both lawmakers issued similar statements shortly after the 2013 incident.

“Safety in coal mining is always an issue," Legarda said in a statement posted on her website on Sunday. There are environmental impacts as well as health and safety implications to the workers."

She added: "Semirara Mining Corporation was given a license to operate an open pit mining facility, it is their responsibility to comply with occupational and safety standards. On the other hand, government agencies, particularly the DOE, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) must strictly enforce safety standards on these mining sites.”

Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, made a similar call in a statement posted on his website.

"We need to create safer conditions for workers in the mining industry," he said.

He said investigations should also focus on labor and occupational safety and standards in mining sites to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

“The conditions that allowed the accident must not go unpunished," he added. "Those who are responsible will have to assume full responsibility.”
'String of mining disasters'

IBON said the Semirara accidents were just part of a string of mining disasters since the enactment of Republic Act 7942.

The group cited the following incidents:

In September 1995, the dam foundation of the tailings pond at the copper and gold project the Manila Mining Corp. collapsed, killing at least 12 people.

In 1996, the Marcopper Mining Corp. site in Marinduque spilled an estimated 2 to 3 million cubic meters of tailings, causing 1,200 residents to evacuate. The tailings also contaminated the Makulaquit and Boac River systems and and isolated five villages with flash floods.

From 2005 to 2007, Lafayette Philippines Inc. saw mining disasters in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, involving toxic cyanide levels that contaminated coastal waters, leading to to fish kills. Heavy metal substances were detected in soil, water, and sediment samples, as well as in the urine and blood of some residents.

In 2012, mine tailings from Philex Mining Corp in Itogon, Benguet contaminated Balog and Agno rivers.

In 2012 and 2014, Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. in Palawan contaminated the Pinagduguan, Pasi, and Pulot Rivers.

The Benguet and Palawan incidents led decreased harvest and fish kills in the said areas.

Large-scale mining, Ibon added, has not contributed to the economy.

"For instance, some 98% of Philippine mineral production is exported for use by other countries' steel industries while the country has none despite its being one of the world's top producers of gold, copper, and nickel," IBON said.

"The Mining Act has allowed foreign control of mining operations and granted incentives and rights to foreign investors... this has violated constitutional provisions restricting foreign participation in key sectors, and allowed big local and foreign business to cover up the plunder of the country's resources."


Semirara coal mine closure, reparations for affected workers, communities demanded by green groups

Kalikasan PNE & KMU press release

21 July 2015

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and labor campaign center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held an indignation protest today at the headquarters of DMCI, the company that owns the Semirara coal mine where a recent landslide resulted in the death of six workers with three more still missing.

“The recent landslide tragedy in the coal mine in Semirara Island is the second major incident involving the mining project, and beyond this DMCI has an extensive track record of environmental and social crimes. The increasing number of incidents of landslides, saltwater seepages, and worker casualties are signs of a bigger disaster waiting to happen in the Semirara coal mine. DMCI’s numerous environmental violations and haphazard operations across its businesses should be basis enough for government to revoke its mining permit and impound the Semirara mine. The government should oblige DMCI to pay reparations to the workers, their families, and mining-affected communities adversely affected by its coal mining operation in Semirara Island,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The Semirara Coal Mine figured in an earlier landslide tragedy in 2013, where five workers died and five more were declared missing. Various so-called ‘development projects’ under DMCI figured in reported cases of environmental destruction, social and economic dislocation, and human rights violations since more than two decades ago, including timber plantations, large-scale mines, and coal-fired power projects.

In the town of Santa Cruz in Zambales province, for instance, the DMCI-owned Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation is known to contribute in the extensive water pollution in various farming and fishing communities where river and irrigation systems affected by the various mining operations flow.

“Working conditions in open-pit mining operations such as the Semirara Coal Mine are one of the most dangerous jobs in the Philippines, especially under such a toothless mining and coal policy regime. Mine workers are the first to be affected by hazards in the mining projects, and it does not help that mining operations in the Philippines, especially those owned by DMCI, have a dismal track record in ensuring environmental safety,” explained Dulce.

“The Semirara mine is already reportedly 2,000 meters deep below sea level, a depth that is 500 meters greater than the Mount Pinatubo’s elevation. The deeper the pit, the greater the risk of slope instability, and so workers are constantly threatened by landslides especially with the increasing number and severity of extreme rainfall and weather events due to climate change,” Dulce furthered.

The group said that the closure of the Semirara mine should have been implemented long ago, noting that the continued coal extraction have resulted in the complete decimation of all forms of vegetation in the open pit area, the prevalence of mercury and heavy metals in the surrounding marine environment, and the disappearance of fishing in the island’s waters. They reiterated, however, that the mine’s closure should not be used to justify the loss of employment and livelihood of families of mine workers in the island.

“DMCI should be compelled to compensate all mine workers’ families who will lose their income upon the closure of the coal mine. The burden of DMCI’s criminal negligence should not be passed on to the affected workers and communities. DMCI must not be allowed to get away with its continuing crop of crimes to the people and environment, as it has consistently done so under the Aquino regime,” ended Dulce.#

Reference: Leon Dulce – 0917 562 6824


Philippine bishops urge mining policy change after fatal accident

At least six die, three missing in open-pit mine collapse

Joe Torres

http://www.ucanews.com/news/philippine-bishops-urge-mining-policy-change-after-fatal-accident/73950

20 July 2015

Philippines - Catholic bishops are calling on the Philippine government to rethink its mining policy after the July 17 collapse at the country's largest coal mine left at least six people dead and three others missing.

"The government must rethink its policy of granting licenses for mining operations," said Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the bishops' public affairs office.

"In mining, tragedies are likely to happen. It's unfortunate that the workers who earn a measly sum from such dangerous work are always the victims," he said.

Mining "destroys our natural resources, contributes little to our country's income, and endangers the lives of workers," he added.

A section of the Panian open-pit mine belonging to Semirara Mining and Power Corp, the country's biggest coal producer, collapsed early July 17 following continuous rain in the central Philippines province of Antique.

In February 2013, another section of the same mine collapsed, killing 10 workers.

"I hate to say this, but it's only the mining companies that are benefitting enormously from [mining]. It's negative effects obviously outweigh the positives," Secillano said.

The priest's statement came after Pope Francis urged the global mining sector on July 17 to implement "a radical paradigm change" to make improvements in how the industry impacts the planet and the poor.

"The entire mining sector is undoubtedly required to effect a radical paradigm change to improve the situation in many countries," the pontiff said.

Gov. Rhodora Cadiao of Antique recommended that the mine be shut down.

"I am recommending and appealing to the [owner of the mine] to close the pit.... Two incidents [show] that this place is very dangerous to work [in]," the governor said.

The Department of Energy has ordered a suspension of operations at the mine pending an investigation into the incident.

The Semirara mine produces 92 percent of all coal produced in the Philippines.

The Semirara Mining and Power Corp said it is "coordinating with national and local authorities" in investigating the cause of the accident.


Philippines' Semirara halts coal exports after mining suspension

* Panian mining suspended after July 17 landslide
* Semirara to give priority to power generators
* Shares hit 17-month low

Reuters

22 July 2015

MANILA - Semirara Mining & Power Corp , the Philippines' biggest coal miner, is halting coal exports to ensure continued supply for local power generation and cement production while operations at its main Panian mine are suspended.

Semirara, a unit of Philippine conglomerate DMCI Holdings Inc, has come under fire after a July 17 landslide at the Panian mine in the centre of the country buried alive nine workers, prompting the Department of Energy (DOE) to suspend operations there.

Acting Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said the government was assessing the impact of the closure of the mine on power supplies, including the possibility of importing coal as a stop-gap measure. Semirara's coal is used to generate a 1,600 megawatt supply, mostly for the main Luzon grid.

On Wednesday, Semirara disclosed it had received a copy of another suspension order, this time from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The DENR said Semirara would not be able to resume mining operations at Panian until it implemented measures that would prevent such accidents from happening again.

Shares in Semirara extended their slide after the announcement, falling as much as 9.6 percent to the lowest in 17 months, putting the stock among the top losers in a market down less than 1 percent.

It has lost more than a fifth of its value since Friday's landslide. Parent DMCI has fallen more than 5 percent.

"We have notified our foreign customers that we cannot schedule further shipments until DOE reaches a decision on the suspension of our mining operations," Semirara said in a statement.

The company's coal exports account for the bulk of its revenue. In 2014, its exports reached 5.25 million tonnes, representing 59 percent of record-high total sales of 8.89 million tonnes and 54 percent higher than total shipments the year before.

Sales to power plants, mostly owned by Semirara, account for about a quarter of total sales, while sales to other customers such as cement manufacturers account for around 15 percent.

"The concerned government authorities have our full cooperation, and we will do everything we can to manage our limited coal inventory to avert possible supply disruptions to our local power plant and cement customers," Semirara said.


Protests around the Metro call for closure of DMCI coal mine, revocation of Mining Act

Kalikasan PNE Press release

11 August 2015

Protest actions on mining converge today at Quezon City, as citizens from Antique province hold pickets outside the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to call for the closure of the Semirara Coal Mine owned by the DMCI company, simultaneous with a multi-sectoral protest action at the House of Representatives calling for the scrapping of RA 7942, or the Mining Act of 1995.

“The Filipino people are opposing not only the destructive and deadly large-scale mining operations exemplified by the DMCI-Semirara open pit coal mine, but also the Mining Act of 1995 which facilitates the more rapid entry of such irresponsible mines. A broad national petition to scrap the Mining Act is fast reaching an initial target of 20,000 signatures, a clear demonstration of the people’s stand against foreign mining plunder,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

The protest outside Congress was led by the Scrap the Mining Act Alliance, a broad national formation united against the said mining liberalization policy and for the enactment of a new, pro-people and pro-environment mining law. Meanwhile, the pickets at DOE and DENR were mounted by the Save Antique Movement.

“DMCI’s coal mining in Semirara Island has to be stopped as founded on its gross environmental infringements and human rights violations,” said Virgilio Sanchez, president of Save Antique Movement.

The Semirara coal mine recently figured in a landslide tragedy that killed at nine mine workers last July 17. The coal mine already figured in a similar tragedy back in 2013 where 10 workers also died, as well as in various incidents of barges containing coal stockpiles or heavy equipment capsizing into the sea.

According to studies cited by Caritas Philippines, coal mining activities in Semirara have destroyed over 83 hectares of mangrove expanses and at least two kilometers of coral reefs from 2009 to 2014 alone, and how the operations continue to poison rich fishing grounds shared by Antique, Romblon, Mindoro and Palawan.

“The existing power privatization and mining liberalization policies are convenient excuses for the government to legitimize irresponsible mining and energy projects, claiming there are standards, regulations and safeguards put in place. The 20-year experience of communities under the policy regime of the Mining Act says otherwise. The landslides in Semirara was once a tragedy, but for it to occur twice proves that so-called responsible mining is a farce,” said Bautista.

Under the Mining Act, at least 19 mine spills and other incidents of mine pollution were recorded by Kalikasan, or almost one major incident per year. The worst has been the Philex mine spill in Padcal, Benguet last August 2012, where at least 20 million metric tons of mine waste inundated the entire Togupon Creek and the connected Agno River.

“The continuing perpetuation of the destructive and plunderous Mining Act is a hallmark of the Aquino administration’s brand of environmental governance. We must put an end to this policy of poison and plunder, and must make sure that politicians that will continue this mining policy regime are no longer allowed to remain in power,” ended Bautista.

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


Semirara to build 1,100 MW coal-fired power capacity

Reuters

29 July 2015

MANILA - Semirara Mining & Power Corp, the Philippines' biggest coal miner, said on Wednesday it expects to bring on stream 1,100 megawatts (MW) of power capacity in the next three to four years, offering a market for its expanding coal mining business.

The Philippines is counting on dozens of coal-fired power plant projects now in the development stage to meet soaring electricity demand and help the country avoid a power crisis.

Semirara Chief Executive Isidro Consunji said plans were underway to build a 700 MW power facility, while a 300 MW plant was scheduled to begin commercial operations in the main island of Luzon this year.

Semirara, a unit of conglomerate DMCI Holdings Inc., produces about 8 million tons of coal a year and ended the first quarter with a generating capacity of 74.1 MW at one plant, which it said could be expanded to 200 MW.

The company will supply all of the coal needs of its expanding power generation portfolio, Consunji said, providing an income boost for DMCI, which is also engaged in nickel mining, road construction and real estate development.

Semirara normally exports some of its coal to China, but has halted exports to ensure supply for local power generation following the suspension this month of its mining operations in central Philippines after a deadly landslide.

It plans to operate a second coal mine in the same region at full capacity in 2016 and is looking to develop a third.


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
Site: www.kalikasan.net


Foreign activists visiting PH mining-affected communities, will investigate social and environmental impacts of large-scale mining

IPCM Press release

26 July 2015

Today, eighteen indigenous peoples, environmentalists, international development workers, anti-mining activists from Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Zambia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Belgium, Ecuador, and Ghana visit the mining-affected areas in Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet. They are part of the June 25-29 Learning Solidarity Mission (LSM) being organized by Philippine environmental organizations.

They will be joined by more than 30 Filipino activists and scientists in visiting the communities. affected by Australian Canadian-owned OceanaGold and UK based FCF mining in municipalities of Didipio and Quezon, in Nueva Vizcaya. Another group are also in Mankayan, Benguet to look into the situation of indigenous people and workers affected by Lepanto Mining Corporation.

The LSM is venue for foreign solidarity groups to learn first-hand the impacts of large-scale mining to indigenous peoples and peasant communities in the Philippines. It also aims to facilitate the sharing of similar campaigns and struggles of the mining-affected communities against transnational mining corporations.

“We want to bring the stories of the people affected by large-scale mining operations to our communities in Canada. We want to see if Canadian mining companies are following guidelines in the protection of the environment and are operating with social acceptability outside Canada. In our experience as indigenous people, we experience negative social and cultural effects of mining to our communities,” says Meeka Otway of Pauuktuuit Inuit Women, an indigenous women organization in Canada.

OceanaGold Corporation has been involved in numerous cases of human rights violations and environmental pollution. Only last year, scientists have found contamination heavy metal in the water bodies adjacent to the mining operation of OceanaGold.

Antonia Rocino an anti-mining activist from El Salvador said “OceanaGold was kicked out in El Salvador. Its mining permit was revoked by the El Salvador government. We worry that our water crisis will worsen because of mining its operations.”

In El Salvador decades of mining operations have caused environmental devastation and serious health consequences where 90% of their surface water is heavily contaminated and 20% of its rural population lacks safe drinking water based on World Bank report.

“The objective of LSM is to share our similar experiences and have a common goal where the communities affected and support organizations in the Philippines, El Salvador, Canada and Australia will do a coordinated campaign and solidarity actions in order to stop OceanaGold environmental and social crimes. By learning with each other, maybe we could convince the Philippine government to do what the El Savador government did in kicking our a foreign polluter,” says Teresita Acosta, of Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK).

The LSM is part of the International Peoples Conference on Mining (IPCM) that will be held from July 30-August 1, 2015 in Quezon City. The IPCM is jointly organized and supported 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), 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 09228449787

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


Foreign activists here to check mines' impact

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

27 July 2015

Eighteen foreign activists are looking into the environmental impact of large-scale mining on communities in Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya during a five-day visit that will end on July 29.

Thirty Filipino activists and scientists joined the foreign group from Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Zambia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Belgium, Ecuador and Ghana.

Another team is looking into the situation of residents and employees in Didipio and Quezon towns in Nueva Vizcaya, where the Australian-Canadian OceanaGold and the UK-based FCF Minerals Corp. operate.

"€œWe want to bring the stories of the people affected by large-scale mining to our communities in Canada,"€ said Meeka Otway of Pauuktuuit Inuit Women, an indigenous women’s organization in Canada.

"We want to see if Canadian mining companies are following the guidelines to protect the environment and are operating with social acceptability outside Canada. We have experienced the negative social and cultural effects of mining on our communities," she said.

The visit is part of the International People's Conference on Mining (IPCM) to be held from July 30 to Aug. 1 in Quezon City; the second to be held after 10 years.


Philippine nun honoured with German human rights award

UCANews

7 August 2015

A Benedictine nun, known for her anti-mining advocacy in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, has been honoured with this year’s Human Rights Prize by the city of Weimar, in Germany. Sister Stella Matutina of the Order of St. Benedict has been recognized for her extraordinary dedication to the rights of the native population, despite threats to her safety. "This highlights the situation of Mindanao and the Philippines in general where the poor, the farmers, the indigenous peoples, the human rights activists and defenders of the environment endure harassment and face risks and death," the 47-year-old nun told UCANews. More than a personal recognition, Sr. Matutina said the award acknowledges the "collective sacrifices" of freedom and environment defenders in the face of a "systematic effort to limit democratic space and security threats". The nun, who comes from a poor family in Mindanao, said her heart "will always be for the poor and the victims of abuses". "My life will always be dedicated to them," she said. Sr. Matutina has been a vocal opponent of attempts to convert the farmlands in Mindanao to plantation crops like palm oil, pineapples, and bananas. She has also led a campaign against the entry of large-scale mining companies in tribal communities in Mindanao.

In 2012, the Philippine military labeled Sr. Matutina a "fake nun" and accused her of being a communist New People’s Army guerrilla. In 2009, soldiers detained the Benedictine nun and two other anti-mining activists in the town of Cateel in Mindanao for giving a lecture on environmental awareness to residents of an upland village. Early this year, authorities charged her, other Church leaders and human rights activists with kidnapping, human trafficking, and illegal detention for taking care of displaced tribal people in the provinces of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. "These are proof that helping the oppressed, the poor, the abused comes with great risks," said Sr. Matutina, chairwoman of the Sisters Association of Mindanao and secretary-general of the environment protection group Panalipdan.

Since 1995, the Weimar Award has honoured individuals or groups engaged in the fight for freedom and equality, the prevention and condemnation of genocide, the right to free speech, and the respect and preservation of political, ethnic, cultural and religious rights of minorities, among others. The Weimar Award, which is supported by aid organization Missio, will officially honour Sr. Matutina in December. The award includes €2,500, which the nun said will help support her organization's advocacy.


Philippine archbishop joins groups fighting mining, coal plants

The poor have been bullied for too long, Arguelles says

Eloisa Lopez

http://www.ucanews.com/news/philippine-archbishop-joins-groups-fighting-mining-coal-plants/73966

23 July 2015

Manila, Philippines - Philippine Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa joined politicians, media personalities and civil society groups in campaigning against mining and coal plant operations in Verde Island Passage, dubbed as the world's "center of the center of marine biodiversity."

"We have been fighting for this issue for so long, but we have always been ignored," Arguelles told ucanews.com on July 23. “[Mining companies] have been bullying the poor for so long," he said.

The archbishop said mining companies have been claiming that they have shared in the improvement of the economy "but it's only progress for the few and suffering to the rest."

Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, said the Verde Island Passage in Batangas province "is of international and intergenerational importance yet currently threatened by different large-scale mining threats."

"We hope to raise this concern and gather support for the Filipino people’s struggles to protect one of the world’s richest marine biodiversity corridors," said Bautista.

"Let us not be fooled by these mining companies," said Gerry Arances, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

Arguelles called on the government to "act immediately" by saying no to mining and coal plants. "Not a moratorium," he said, "because that would only temporarily stop the problem."

"Let us put a stop to this permanently as it is clearly against our nature and the human life," the archbishop said.

Pope Francis' recent encyclical "Laudato si’" called on the faithful to "replace all use of highly polluting fossil fuels most especially coal without delay."

The pope "did not say that out of the blue…. He knows that this is happening and he is making it a worldwide issue," Arguelles said.

Activist Teddy Casino, a former legislator, said the battle against mining "is not a joke." He warned that the people "will be forced to break apart and will be bribed, threatened, and bullied."

"It is important that all sectors join forces in this fight," he said, adding that environmental activists who have opposed mining have been killed in the past.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment announced that it will raise the "specter of large-scale mining interests" in the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining next week.

Some 140 participants from 28 different countries are expected to attend the conference of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, church workers, lawyers, legislators, artists, alternative media practitioners, environmental activists, and scientists.

Bautista said that while the people’s movement has recently gained ground through its initial victory in the revocation of the local government’s endorsement of mining operation in Batangas, "threats ... still abound."

He said the threat of big mines is present across the entire Coral Triangle, a marine biodiversity corridor that straddles Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste that is host to no less than 500 coral reef species.


Philippines: Priests, nuns join resistance to mining project

UCANews

17 July 2015

(Vatican Radio) As of March 31, the provincial government of Batangas in the Philippines, has issued at least 10 permits to large-scale mining projects covering a total of 20,320 hectares of lands to Canada-Australia owned Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. and Mindoro Resource Limited.

On Thursday some 500 residents of Lobo town marched to Manila to show their opposition to the mining projects which are detrimental to the province’s last remaining ecological footholds.

"Everybody should be united to protect it," said Fr. Dakila Ramos, director of the Lipa archdiocese's Ministry on the Environment. "The people are against the project, but the government has endorsed the mining operation," the priest told ucanews.com.

The environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment noted that most of these lands are located in key biodiversity and environmentally critical areas, such as the town of Lobo.

In 1997, the town of Lobo was named in the top five of the 18 centers of biodiversity in the Philippines. In 2004, international scientists documented some 1,736 marine species in just one small section of the Verde Island marine biodiversity corridor across Lobo town.

"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," said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

"This will surely spell death to current marine conservation areas," he said, adding that the mining operation, which will use open-pit mining technology, will dump millions of metric tons of mine wastes into Lobo River down to the waters of the Verde Island Passage.

Petti Enriquez, secretary-general of the environmental activist group Bukal, said fisherfolks, peasants, and local businesses are at the "losing end" when the large-scale mining project starts to operate.

"Not only the fishery and agricultural sectors will be adversely affected, but also the booming tourism in the province," Enriquez said. He said the forests, farmland, and the sea in the province of Batangas are the source of livelihood, food security, and investment of many people.

"We will not take this sitting down, if needed we will fight tooth and nail to protect our land, livelihood and environment," he said.

Environment officials vowed to study the issue during a meeting with the protesters on July 16.

"The struggle is not yet over. We need to convince our government leaders," Ramos told ucanews.com after the meeting.

"What is in store for our fisherfolks and their families’ future once the mines poison our rivers and seas? What will happen to people whose fields will be inundated by mine waste?" the priest said.

He said loss of livelihood and worsening poverty are sure outcomes of this big mining project, "thus the Catholic Church will be a leading voice in opposing persistent attempts to plunder our environment and our people’s future."

Earlier this month, Church leaders in the province also launched the "One Million against Coal Campaign" to promote resistance to coal mines and the construction of coal-fired power plants in the country by gathering at least one million signatures.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said it is necessary for the Church to be at the forefront of the fight against coal because the government "is adamant about pursuing the extension of these destructive operations".


Total mining ban pushed in Batangas

by Cristina Ganzon

Manila Times

26 July 2015

A coalition of environmentalists, civic leaders, politicians and celebrities is calling for the implementation of a total mining ban in the province of Batangas.

This appeal was put forward in a gathering aimed at seeking the preservation of the Verde Island Passage in Lobo, Batangas.

According to ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation chair Gina Lopez, the coalition has prepared a petition asking for the declaration of the whole Verde Passage as a protected area.

“Seventy percent of the population of Lobo signed the petition. The law says that if the people don’t want it, you can’t mine,” Lopez said.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles wants the provincial government of Batangas to make a clear stand on the issue.

Arguelles said that if a moratorium is implemented, this means mining would be only temporarily stopped and that this can begin again.

“Let us just put a stop to it. It is clearly against our nature and human life,” Arguelles added.

Aside from the issue of mining, the province is also faced with the proposal of JG Summit to build a coal-fired power plant in the city of Batangas.

A study presented by Dr. Nim Gonzales, former head of Ateneo’s Communications Department, showed areas where coal-fired power plants exist have persistent problems on noise, water pollution, dust and dirty shores as seen in Calaca, Batangas and Masinloc, Zambales.

In behalf of the provincial government of Batangas, Vice Gov. Marc Leviste assured, “We will never allow our environment to be compromised by any development in Batangas.”


Environment groups to raise alarm over mining across Verde Island Passage at upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining

Kalikasan PNE Press release

23 July 2015

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) will be raising the specter of large-scale mining interests across the famed Verde Island Passage (VIP) in the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining 2015 (IPCM) that will be held in Quezon City, Metro Manila from July 30 to August 1.

“The Verde Island Passage, the global center of marine biodiversity, is of international and inter-generational importance yet currently threatened by different large-scale mining threats across its coastal provinces. We hope to raise this concern and gather support for the Filipino people’s struggles to protect one of the world’s richest marine bioldiversity corridors at the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, one of the IPCM organizers.

The group announced this in a press conference today attended by various advocates and supporters for the protection of the VIP, including various governors and other top elected officials across the VIP provinces of Batangas, Mindoro, and Marinduque, and various leaders of civil society.

The snowball of support is coming off the heels of a successful protest movement led by the Batangas-based groups Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan, the Archdiocesan Ministry for the Environment, and the people of Lobo Town, Batangas, which recently succeeded in compelling the pull-out of the Lobo government’s resolution endorsing the impending mining operations of Canadian-Australian mining company MRL-Egerton.

“While the people’s movement has recently gained ground through its initial victory in the revocation of the local government’s endorsement to the MRL-Egerton mining operation, threats are still abound in the VIP. The threat will not cease to exist until the DENR enforces the pull-out of MRL-Egerton. Other mining threats, such as the Norwegian Intex Resources proposed mine in Mindoro, and the abandoned Canadian-owned Marcopper mines in Marinduque, are still unaddressed across the VIP,” explained Bautista.

The group noted how the threat of big mines is present across the entire Coral Triangle, a marine biodiversity corridor to which the VIP is part of that straddles the countries of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste that contains no less than 500 coral reef species. Tin mining on Bangka Island, Indonesia, and sea-bed mining in the Solomon Islands are just some of the current mining controversies that beset the Coral Triangle.

“The ecological integrity of the VIP and the entire Coral Triangle is interconnected to the productivity of various seas in the Pacific that is contiguous it. The potential and actual benefits harnessed by research and development from the VIP and the Coral Triangle far outweigh the immediate profitability promised by large-scale mines that pepper the region,” noted Bautista.

Around 140 participants from 28 different countries are expected to join the IPCM, composed residents of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, church workers, lawyers, legislators, artists, alternative media practitioners, environmental activists, and scientists, among others.

“We are optimistic that the IPCM will serve as an impetus to launch the ‘Save Verde Island Passage’ call as a global people’s campaign, and we likewise hope to share our experiences in protecting critical ecosystems and people’s livelihoods from the negative impacts of large-scale mining,” ended Bautista.

--

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
Site: www.kalikasan.net


Environmentalists held protest-dialogue at DENR to demand disapproval of ECC for mining in Lobo

Kalikasan PNE press release

17 July 2015

Photos available here

Around 500 protesters from Lobo, Batangas trooped today in front of DENR main office to demand the disapproval of the enviornmental compliance certificate (ECC) application of and nullify the mining permit of Mindoro Resources Limited-Egerton Gold Philippines (MRL-Egerton) in Lobo, Batangas.

The protest action led by Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (Bukal Batangas), Archdiocese of Lipa Ministry for the Environment (AMEN) and the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) was joined by personalities like Asian gold medalist and Olympian swimmer Akiko Thompson, clean energy advocate Chips Guevarra, Asia’s Got Talent host Rovilson Fernandez, TV Anchor Atty. Karen Jimeno, and Gina Lopez of Bantay Kalikasan.

The group also held a simultaneous dialogue with DENR Undersecretary and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Jonas Leones and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno. During the dialogue the group asked the DENR officials why they continue to allow mining exploration in the high biodiversity and critical areas in Lobo, Batangas.

“Millions of metric tons of mine waste that will be produced by MRL-Egerton’s open pit mining, and the toxic waters resulting from the poisonous cyanide leaching process that they will employ employ will surely find its way to to Lobo River and the Verde Island Passage. Is the DENR unaware that the Verde Island Passage is a protected area, and that they themselves declared four different environmental conservation areas in Municipality of Lobo?,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, during the protest-dialogue.

“I’m not a resident of Lobo but I know how pristine and biodiverse the ecosytems in Lobo and the Verde Island Passage are. That is why I’m a here to protect its beauty and richness from destruction,” said Rovilson, who is also the national ambassador of World Wildlife Fund-Philippines.

In November 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo through Executive Order 578 declared the Verde Island Passage as a marine protected area.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones responded that the DENR is studying their basis if they will give or deny ECC to Egerton. “We still have no decision, pero kitang kita po namin sa dami ng dyalogo at mga protesta na malakas ang oposisyon ng mga tao sa Batangas laban sa pagmimina sa Lobo (but we can really see in the numerous dialogues and protests that the people of Batangas are opposed to mining in Lobo),” Undersecretary Leones said.

Meanwhile, MGB’s Leo Jasareno said that they will immediately process the cancellation or suspension of the MPSA of MRL-Egerton if the group will file a formal request to the Bureau. “We have done that in Romblon province where we suspended the MPSA of Altai Philippines Mining Co., which was situated beside the Mt. Guiting-guiting protected area,” Jasareno said.

Kalikasan PNE, together with the Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines and the AGHAM – Advocates of Science & Technology for the People immediately submitted their position paper demanding the DENR to cancel all mining permits of MRL-Egerton, which both officials received.

Gina Lopez also promised that their group will submit a formal request for the cancellation of Egerton MPSA and exploration permits as well as the request to declare Mt. Lobo as a No-Mining-Zone.

“We will never stop our actions until we have not met our objective to stop large-scale mining in Batangas. The key in achieving this and winning our fight to defend Lobo and save the Verde Island Passage is the continuously growing resistance of Batanguenos against the effort of foreign mining companies to pillage our resources and destroy the environment. We also aim to bring the issue of mining around the VIP corridor to the international community through the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining,” Clemente Bautista ended.

The International People’s Conference on Mining (www.peoplesminignconf.net) is an upcoming gathering of over 100 environmental advocates, mine workers, scientists, indigenous people, community leaders, church workers and other stakeholders from 25 different mine-affected countries to be held in the Philippines from July 30 to August 1.

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


As science, history, and the people demand: Stop MRL-Egerton Gold mining in Lobo, Batangas!

Position paper presented to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

16 July 2015

Together with more than 500 protesters hailing from the province of Batangas, we in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), together with various other environmental groups, stand with the people of Lobo, Batangas in their opposition to the large-scale mining project of Canada-Australia owned Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. and Mindoro Resource Limited. As of March 31, 2014, the said companies have at least 10 mining permits in the province of Batangas covering a total of 20,320 hectares of lands.

Most of these lands are located in key biodiversity and environmentally critical areas such as the municipality of Lobo, which was classified as one of the centers of biodiversity in the Philippines by the DENR and the UNEP.

Save the Verde Island Passage

Moreso, the ecosystems in Lobo contribute significantly in the noursihment and sustenance of the Verde Island Passage or VIP, the globally renowned ‘center of the center’ of the world’s marine biodiversity. The VIP covers a 1.14 million hectares of seascape between the provinces of Batangas, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon.

Marine life in the VIP has an extraordinary levels of endemism and biodiversity. Scientists discovered a concentration of 1,736 species in a mere 10-by-10 kilometer area. This includes more than 300 coral species and 32 mangrove species in Batangas alone, and 20 seagrass species in Balayan Bay and Mindoro Oriental. Just this June 2015, scientists from the California Academy of Sciences discovered more than 100 new and rare species in the VIP.

The VIP greatly contributes to the local economies of its littoral provinces as well as to the national economy. Almost 8,000,000 people live around the Verde Island Passage. One of the main livelihoods is fishing, wherein the VIP contributes 239,220 metric tons or 5.42% of the entire country’s fish production.

Protect Mt. Lobo

The Mt. Lobo Mountain Range is also a high biodiversity area that will be negatively impacted by the Egerton Gold Phils mining project. Mt. Lobo is the habitat of several endangered terrestrial species, among them are endemic trees like Philippine Teak, Dungon and Molave, and threatened wildlife species like the giant fruit bat and flying foxes, whose numbers are presently only several hundreds as compared from at least 10,000 50 years ago. As of 2004, the taxonomic diversity of plants accounted for in Mt. Lobo amounts to 181 species. There are also a total of 96 avifaunal species, of which 31% are endemic to the Philippines.

Given the pristine terrestrial and marine ecosystems in and around Lobo, the tourism industry is now starting to blossom. Lobo contains one of the most pristine coral reef ecosystems in the country, comparable if not arguably better than the coral reefs in the Tubbataha Reef National Park. It is also an increasingly popular mountaineering destination.

Such unparalleled ecological wealth is of global and inter-generational importance. Unfortunately, all these wonders, from ridge to reef, will be devastated once the Egerton Gold Phils mining project is be allowed to push through.

Heed the Lessons Well

The company will use open-pit mining and cyanide leaching technologies to extract gold and other minerals in Lobo. Their operation will also involve blasting out entire mountains to expose the minerals underneath. The consequences of this level of destruction are dire: massive forest denudation, landslides, flashfloods, and eventually toxic contamination of water bodies.

We should heed well the violent history of large-scale mining under the 20 years of the Mining Act of 1995. As in so many instances in history throughout other mining-affected communities across the Philippines, the people of Lobo will likely face community displacement, socio-economic dislocation, militarization, and human rights violations.

We cannot allow this to happen. Given the multitude of scientific studies that demonstrate how important the ecosystems are in Mt. Lobo and VIP, the strong and widespread opposition expressed by the people of Lobo and Batangas at-large, and the track record of destructive and pollutive impacts of open-pit mining and cyanide leaching technologies to the environment, the DENR should be compelled to deny MRL-Egerton Gold of their Environmental Compliance Certificate.

More importantly, we challenge the DENR and the entire Aquino administration to revoke and nullify the mining permits of MRL-Egerton Gold in Batangas, and declare Mt. Lobo as a No-Mining-Zone to ensure the protection and conservation of the ecosystems in the Lobo mountain range and Verde Island Passage.#

Position paper presented to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources | 16 July, 2015

Reference: CLEMENTE BAUTISTA JR., National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE – 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
E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net
Site: www.kalikasan.net


Batangas groups call for mining ban

By Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat.com

30 June 2015

“The endorsement of Lobo government officials for the MRL-Egerton mining project should be revoked and reversed to protect Lobo’s lives, livelihood, and environment.”

MANILA – Environmental groups and thousands of residents of Batangas called on the local government to ban large-scale mining in the province, as they gathered to protest the entry of the Mindoro Resources Limited-Egerton Gold Philippines (MRL-Egerton) in Lobo town.

“The endorsement of Lobo government officials for the MRL-Egerton mining project should be revoked and reversed to protect Lobo’s lives, livelihood, and environment,” said Peti Enriquez, secretary general of Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (Bukal-Batangas), at the gathering at the Lobo town center on June 29.

Bukal-Batangas, along with the Lobo Resort Owners Association and Lobo Water District, submitted a petition to the Lobo municipal government asking to revoke SB Resolution 2015-26, which was issued by the Lobo municipal council, endorsing MRL-Egerton’s application for commercial gold mining.

The groups were joined by the Archdiocesan Ministry on Environment (AMEN), Gina Lopez of Bantay Kalikasan, whose family owns the media giant ABS-CBN, and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

Enriquez also called on Batangas Governor Vilma Santos and the provincial government to “immediately declare a ban on large-scale mining in the province to ensure the province’s last remaining ecological footholds.”

Early this month, various groups of peasants, environmentalist, church people and businessmen trooped to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Denr) in Quezon City to appeal to the Environmental Management Bureau to reject the application of the Australian-Canadian mining company. The MRL-Egerton had been conducting exploration in the area since 2003.

“The DENR, who is primarily tasked to ensure the protection of Verde Island Passage and Mt. Lobo as biodiversity critical areas, is actually the one promoting large-scale mining in Lobo,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

“While DENR declared watershed and marine protected areas in Lobo, it permitted to MRL-Egerton to conduct open pit mining and dump mine waste to the Verde Island Passage on the other hand,” he said.

Bautista said Lobo is considered the country’s fifth top biodiversity center, and one of the last homes of Batangas’ forests. Kalikasan had warned that mining operation will dump toxic mine waste into the Lobo river, down into the the Verde Island Passage, a strait known as the ‘center of the center’ of marine biodiversity in the country.

Bautista blamed the entry and operation of companies like MRL-Egerton to the Mining Act of 1995, which the Aquino administration had promoted.

“We have no recourse but to resist and defeat MRL-Egerton in order to protect our environment and resources. At the same time we must continue to pressure the government to junk their bankrupt mining policy and program,” Bautista said.

Fr. Daks Ramos, AMEN director said the Catholic Church “will be a leading voice” in resisting the mining company.

“What is in store for our fisherfolks and their families’ future once MRL-Egerton poisons our rivers and seas? What will happen to our peasants whose fields will be inundated by mine waste? The loss of livelihood and worsening poverty are sure outcomes of this big mining project, thus the Catholic Church will be a leading voice in opposing MRL-Egerton’s persistent attempts to plunder our environment and our people’s future.” (http://bulatlat.com)


CamNorte water firm: Mt. Labo gold exploration endangers watershed, water source for 25,000 homes

By John Mark Escandor

Philippines News Agency

19 July 2015

DAET, Camarines Norte - The Camarines Norte Water District (CNWD) has raised concern over the on-going gold exploration in Mt. Labo which, it said, is endangering the watershed area that protects and preserves its water sources.

The water utility firm serves 25,000 households in eight towns of Camarines Norte province.

Maria Antonia Bernadina Boma, CNWD manager, last week scored the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for giving exploration permit (EP) to mining firm Labo Exploration and Development Corp. (MLEDC) in Mt. Labo without consultation with them and other major stakeholders.

Boma said should the MGB grant mining permit or a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) after the exploration stage inside the 1,544-meter Mt. Labo, the highest peak in Camarines Norte, the watershed area, where the water utility firm gets its supply of spring water, will be exposed to great danger.

Water crisis

At present, the CNWD is struggling with the de facto water crisis because the spring-water sources in Mt. Labo have decreased water production by 60 percent from its daily production of 35,000 cubic meters ten years ago, she said.

Boma said the water utility firm here is entrusted with 7,055 hectares of watershed area located in Mt. Labo.

She said the CNWD opposes all mining activities because the water sources near a mining site, including surface waters from the rivers, are vulnerable to contamination of mine tailings and effluents.

The CNWD official said that with the production of spring water greatly diminished over time, they are now developing surface water from the rivers to augment their water production.

The CNWD has been asking the MGB for the exact location of the mining exploration for them to study and make informed stand against it, but they did not get any response, she said.

MGB response

Guillermo A. Molina Jr., officer-in-charge of the office of the regional director of the MGB in Bicol, said the exploration permit awarded to MLEDC covers 497.7212 ha and it expires on July 15 this year.

Molina said the exploration permit for gold was issued by the MGB in Bicol and that it is not located in the watershed area.

But he revealed that the MLEDC is applying for another exploration permit for a bigger area covering 2,980.994 ha also in Mt. Labo.

A primer on the application for exploration permit posted at the MGB website only qualifies corporations with 60-percent-owned by Filipino citizens to apply for exploration permit for a maximum of six years, and a maximum of 16,200 ha of onshore land in one province.

Additional requirements, aside from corporate matters, EP application must be accompanied with the submission of Certificate of Environmental Management and Community Relations Records/Certificate of Exemption; Environmental Work Program; and Certificate of Precondition (certification from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that the area does not overlap any ancestral claim or domain claim of non-IP).

Mining applicant

Records of the MGB shows that the applicant of the EP in behalf of MLDEC was its chairman and president, Maximo O. Sara III, covering 497.7212 ha which clearance to issue exploration permit was granted on May 27, 2013 per memorandum of MGB.

Molina said the exploration permit only allows the mining firm to explore and get samples of raw minerals in applied area and that the firm cannot bring out or sell the samples taken.

The EP cannot be used by the mining firm to mine the minerals, he added.

He said the MLDEC has to submit new documents and requirements for the new exploration permit for the almost 5,000 ha the mining firm wants to apply for anew.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Camarines Norte is not keen in endorsing the mining exploration in Mt. Labo and it is going to oppose it by passing a resolution requesting the MGB not to approve another exploration permit to MLDEC, according to Vice Governor Jonah Pimentel.

Pimentel said the SP has asked the MGB in Bicol, through then OIC Regional Director Theodore Rommel E. Pestaño, to suspend the EP for the 497.7212 ha, which was passed as an SP resolution in 2014.


Mankayan indigenous folks call on Aquino to reject Lepanto mining application

By Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat.com 

15 August 2015

“As the affected indigenous peoples community, the exercise of our right to self-determination through the free, prior and informed consent process has been systematically and insidiously curtailed.”

MANILA – Indigenous Cordilleran communities of Mankayan town, Benguet province have been crying foul over the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement that will pave the way for a new mineral agreement for the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo), widely blamed by tribal folk for the environmental degradation caused by copper and gold mining in their area since 1936.

The Kankana-eys are opposing the application for a financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA), by the Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI), a joint venture company of LCMCo with the South African mining company Gold Fields.

A Memorandum of Agreement worth P80 million ($1.7 million) was already signed six months ago, on Feb. 21, by a council of elders from eight out of 12 Mankayan villages and FGSRI – under a process which the indigenous communities said, violates their right to self-determination.

After the February signing, the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous People (ICC/IP) of three concerned villages came out with separate resolutions rejecting FSGRI’s FTAA application, and calling on President Aquino to do the same. The president gives the final approval to a mineral agreement.

In July, the Mankayan municipal council issued a resolution denying an endorsement to FSGRI, echoing the side of protesting communities.

FSGRI aims to convert portions of two of its mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) into an FTAA, to expand its copper-gold mining. MPSA 001 covers 305 hectares while MPSA 151 covers 82 has.

The Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) had condemned the MOA as a “sell-out,” and submitted a letter of opposition during the Feb. 21 signing ceremony.

On Aug. 11, SMM members submitted a letter of opposition to the central office of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). The group also submitted the resolutions of “non-endorsement” issued by the Mankayan municipal council, the Teeng di Mankayan (Kankana-ey Indigenous People of Mankayan), the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous People (ICC/IP) of the Mankayan Ancestral Domain, and of the villages of Tabio, Bulalacao and Colalo.

The village council of Bulalacao, which along with Tabio comprise the mining site, also issued a “non-endorsement” to the FSGRI.

The resolutions said the MOA violated their rights as provided in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and local laws, such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) or Republic Act 8371, and the Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942.

Both laws require project proponents to get the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the affected indigenous community before any undertaking in their area.

Indigenous groups such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) had long criticized the NCIP for being “biased” in favour of companies, instead of serving the interests of the indigenous communities.

“From the start, we have expressed that we don’t want an expansion of mining here in Mankayan,” Lilian Fellao of SMM told Bulatlat.com. “Lepanto has been there for 77 years, but there is still no development in the host community,” she said, at a protest on Aug. 11 in front of Congress.

Since 2011, Mankayan residents have opposed FSGRI’s expansion, and barricaded its drilling site for a year. In turn, the company filed criminal and civil charges the residents. The criminal complaints were dismissed, but the civil charges are still being heard in court.

‘Resolution of non-endorsement’

The Mankayan municipal council, through a resolution issued on July 7, rejected FSGRI’s FTAA application, after voting 2-5, with two abstentions.

The council committee on natural resources and environmental protection, chaired by councilor Joseph Denver Tongacan, said in its report: “The flaws in the FPIC process and in the MOA are serious violation of the laws RA 8371 and RA 7942, and likewise, violates the rights of our constituents and the Te-eng or native Kankana-ey residents of Mankayan.”

The committee on land use plan, chaired by councilor Jules Tanglib, said the FSGRI project covers areas already declared as watershed, communal forest reserve, residential, commercial, agricultural, and for small-scale mining. School zone, churches, bridges and provincial roads were also covered.

The ICC/IPs’ resolution cited one of the implementing rule of IPRA which requires the consent of “all affected ICCs/IPs communities,” for a project that affects “two or more ancestral domains,” such as in the case of the FSGRI.

“Our processes, institutions and leadership systems have been ignored in the FPIC process,” they said.

The resolution pointed out the different ICC/IP bodies that should have primary role in the FPIC process: the ato (subvillage), at-atoan, (village) and kalangan (municipal). These are indigenous political structures where consensus is built and decisions are made and carried out, said the resolution.

Instead, two “alleged representatives” from each of the eight communities signed as the supposed “council of elders,” or Coel, which the ICC/IPs questioned.

“As the affected IP community, the exercise of our right to self-determination through the FPIC process has been systematically and insidiously curtailed,” said the ICC/IPs.

The resolution added that the MOA does not give “fair and just benefits for the community, in return for giving a big portion of our ancestral domain, our minerals, our waters, our land, our air and our trees, and almost all resources.” The P80 million stated in the MOA is to be divided among the eight villages that signed.

The Mankayan ICC/IP pointed out that the villages of Bulalacao and Tabio are the actual host communities, but the NCIP field-based investigation team showed bias when it included “neighboring villages” which are not within the area to be covered.

Under the MPSA, the government is considered owner of the minerals and gets shares in the production, or two percent in excise tax in metallic and non-metallic minerals. Under the FTAA, the company is given 100 percent ownership of the minerals for 25 years, renewable for another 25. The company gets a tax holiday for five years, or even longer, to “recover pre-operating expenses.” Fees, royalties and other payments will only be made after the recovery period.

The MOA is a prerequisite for the NCIP to be able to issue a certification precondition (CP) for the FTAA. The FTAA, if approved by the president, lasts 25 years, renewable for another 25. The NCIP is yet to issue the CP.


Large-scale mining to be banned in Kibungan, Benguet

By Philippines News Agency

12 August 2015

MANILA -- The House Committee on Natural Resources has given the green light to declare the municipality of Kibungan, Benguet a mining-free zone.

The House panel, chaired by Rep. Francisco T. Matugas, has approved and endorsed plenary passage of HB 5957, as contained in Committee Report 808, in substitution of the original HB 5475, principally authored by Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan.

HB 5957 is entitled “An Act declaring the Municipality of Kibungan, Benguet a large-scale mining-free zone and providing penalties for violations thereof.”

“Large-scale mining causes ground sinking, various illnesses due to pollution and dangerous chemicals used and produced in the mining process, depletion of water resources, and destruction of the environment as a whole,” Cosalan stressed.

Kibungan, Cosalan recalled, has been recognized as an ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples of the area by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) with the award of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADI) No. CCAR-KIB-0240-016.

He noted that with the efforts of the Kibungan Kankana-ey Tribe and the local government of Kibungan, the Ten-Year Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) was formulated in November 2006.

Furthermore, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of Kibungan, which was based on the ADSDPP, spells out the uses of the ancestral land as primarily for agriculture, cultivation of high-value crops as primary source of livelihood, communal watershed, communal forest, pasture lands, cemetery, parks, and institutional purposes, among others.

“Kibungan supplies indigenous rice and highland vegetables to Regions I, II and the National Capital Region,” Cosalan pointed out.

Nature’s riches abound in the area because Kibungan also boasts of beautiful sceneries of distinct cultural and ancestral heritage like the Les-eng rice terraces surrounded by solid rock formations, the century-old Palina rice terraces that turn golden yellow near harvest time and the rocky mountain walls which are favorite destinations of local and foreign tourists and mountain trekkers.

Likewise, within the area are watersheds, forest reserves, public cemeteries, waterways, and historic sites, the author, who represents the Lone District of Benguet Province, proudly noted.

“These are the reasons why the indigenous peoples of Kibungan are vehemently against large-scale mining operations within their ancestral lands,” Cosalan stressed.

Under HB 5957, “it shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any mining operation in the Municipality of Kibunga, Province of Benguet.”

The bill provides: “Any person found guilty of violating the provisions of this Act shall be penalized with an imprisonment of at least six years but not more than 12 years and a fine of at least One Hundred Thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than Five Hundred Thousand pesos (P500,000.00).”

“If the offender is a corporation, firm, partnership, or association, the penalty shall be imposed upon the officer or officers of the corporation, firm, partnership, or association responsible for the violation thereof,” the measure also provides.

However, “if the offender is an alien, the person shall be deported immediately after the service of sentence and payment of fine,” the author said.

Furthermore, the proposed Act provides that “upon approval of this Act, the local government of the Municipality of Kibungan, in coordination with the DENR, shall review the contracts and agreements entered into by all existing small-scale and large-scale mining operators, those to be terminated and those to be allowed to continue until such period that their contracts or agreements may allow.”

The DENR, within three months following the effectivity of this Act, shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for its effective implementation.


House committee OKs Benguet anti-mining bill

Manila Times

11 August 2015

The House Committee on Natural Resources has given the green light to declare the municipality of Kibungan in Benguet province a mining-free zone.

The House panel, chaired by Surigao del Norte Cong. Francisco Matugas, has approved and endorsed HB 5957 or “An Act declaring the Municipality of Kibungan, Benguet a large-scale mining-free zone and providing penalties for violations thereof.”

“Large-scale mining causes ground sinking, various illnesses due to pollution and dangerous chemicals used and produced in the mining process, depletion of water resources, and destruction of the environment as a whole,” Benguet Cong. Ronald Cosalan stressed.

Kibungan town, Cosalan said, has been recognized as an ancestral domain of the indigenous people in the area by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). They were given the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADI) No. CCAR-KIB-0240-016.

He noted that with the efforts of the Kibungan Kankana-ey Tribe and the local government of Kibungan, the 10-Year Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) was formulated in November 2006.

Furthermore, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of Kibungan, which was based on the ADSDPP, spells out the uses of the ancestral land as primarily for agriculture, cultivation of high value crops as primary source of livelihood, communal water shed, communal forest, pasture lands, cemetery, parks and institutional purposes, among others.

“Kibungan supplies indigenous rice and highland vegetables to Regions I, II and the National Capital Region,” Cosalan pointed out.

Kibungan also boasts of beautiful sceneries of distinct cultural and ancestral heritage like the Les-eng rice terraces surrounded by solid rock formations, the century-old Palina rice terraces that turn golden yellow near harvest time and the rocky mountain walls which are favorite destinations of local and foreign tourists.

Under HB 5957, “it shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any mining operation in the Municipality of Kibunga, Province of Benguet.”

The bill provides: “Any person found guilty of violating the provisions of this Act shall be penalized with an imprisonment of at least six years but not more than 12 years and a fine of at least One Hundred Thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than Five Hundred Thousand pesos (P500,000.00).”

“If the offender is a corporation, firm, partnership or association, the penalty shall be imposed upon the officer or officers of the corporation, firm, partnership or association responsible for the violation thereof,” the measure also provides.


Small miners sue Paje to stop fee hike

Inquirer.net

5 August 2015

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—A group of small-scale miners has asked a court here to stop Environment Secretary Ramon Paje from enforcing the new implementing rules for the People’s Mining Act that they claim impose exorbitant fees and a provision that restricts them to operate for only six years.

The complaint, filed on July 27 by Benguet Federation of Small-scale Miners Inc. (BFSSMI), said the new impositions of Administrative Order No. 2015-03 “tends not to regulate the trade of small-scale miners but hamper or prohibit it.”

AO 2015-03 states the revised implementing rules and regulations (RIRR) of Republic Act

No. 7076 (People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991), which were drawn up to abide by President Aquino’s policy on mining (Executive Order No. 79). Paje issued the order on March 16.

The rules display “a clear encroachment on the legislative powers which belongs to Congress,” BFSSMI said. “The application fee prescribed in the RIRR setting the amounts of P10,000 for nonmetallic minerals … and P20,000 for gold, silver and/or chromite is … excessive and unreasonable.”

Section 16 of the RIRR also imposes a P50,000 processor’s fee when they use a custom mill mandated by the government for the Minahang Bayan (people’s small-scale mining area), said Lomino Kaniteng, the federation president.

Kaniteng described as “capricious” and “arbitrary” the increase of the P20 fee provided by Section 18 of the law.

“Apparently, this guideline was adopted to discourage small-scale miners from plying their trade…. This provision of the RIRR has become a burden, a manacle and a threat to the welfare and livelihood of the hapless small-scale miners,” the complaint said.

It said the new requirements were “tailored-fit” to large-scale mining operations.

The group questioned Section 21 of the RIRR changing the composition of the mining regulatory boards in the provinces or cities by including a representative from the area’s large-scale mine.

“The inclusion of a representative from the large-scale mines to the [mining regulatory boards] would be ironic … in the sense that what is regulated are the affairs of [pocket miners],” BFSSMI said.

Section 13 allows pocket miners to avail themselves of two-year contracts which can be renewed only twice, because each licensed miner is allowed only a maximum of six years to operate in a Minahang Bayan.

The group said the RIRR presented a “clear and present danger” for small-scale miners who may be arrested and deprived of their livelihood should they fail to fulfill the strict requirements or pay the fees imposed by the government.

Kaniteng said the group had cooperated with the government and had been fulfilling all its requests to ensure that the pocket mining industry is legitimized. But the RIRR have made their job even more difficult, he said.

The government had also failed to designate Minahang Bayan as required by EO 79, Kaniteng said. With a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon


300 who sold mine lands lose P40M

Tribal folk who got paid to allow mining duped in investment scam

By Melvin Gascon

Inquirer Northern Luzon

4 July 2015

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—At least 300 people have fallen victims to an investment scam, most of them members of the Ifugao tribe who had invested the proceeds of the sale of their land rights to a foreign-owned mining project in Kasibu town in Nueva Vizcaya province, the National Bureau of Investigation said.

The NBI has warned people against falling for the get-rich-quick schemes of a syndicate, whose members are operating in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Ifugao and Benguet.

Lawyer Benshee Apolinar, chief of the NBI district office here, said the suspects took P5,000 to P300,000 from their victims, promising a return of 30 percent and payback in two weeks.

“The suspects are known to the victims, who are mostly Ifugao. Since they belong to the same tribe, they were made to believe that their deals were legitimate,” Apolinar said.

NBI agents estimated that a total of P40 million had been collected by the group from the victims, among them college students, housewives, farmers, small traders, professionals and government workers.

The main suspect, Laribel Attaban, allegedly began her trade in Didipio village in Kasibu, recruiting people from families who had received payments for selling their lands occupied by the gold-copper project of OceanaGold Philippines Inc.

Investors were made to fill out a supposed deposit slip that carried the heading “Family Futures,” indicating the amount invested and the date of maturity. They were told to present the slip when claiming their money and earnings.

Attaban and two other suspects, Amilyn Tayaban and Leah Guinolwayan, who supposedly represented a company called Family Futures, allegedly lured more victims by making them witness actual payouts to a number of clients.

“It looked very tempting because they saw how bundles of cash were casually handed out to the first set of investors, whose money grew in just a matter of days,” said NBI special agent Agustin Bataclao.

By word of mouth, Ifugao residents from Didipio soon convinced their friends and relatives in other areas to join the investment venture.

From January to May, the operations of Family Futures expanded. Operators set up offices in Solano town here, in Diffun town in Quirino, in Lagawe town in Ifugao and in La Trinidad in Benguet.

But people began trooping to the NBI office here to file complaints after failing to get their money’s earnings at the specified date.

“When their investments reached the maturity date, they went to the office of Family Futures but the suspects could no longer be located, and their offices were already closed,” Bataclao said.

Since last month, the NBI has filed at the Department of Justice charges against the suspects for multiple estafa, based on complaints of more than 100 victims from Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

“We are also preparing the charge sheet for about 100 complainants from Ifugao,” he said.

The scam has left many of victims distraught.

A housewife from Didipio decided to invest P60,000, which she and her husband kept as savings from their sale to OceanaGold of a parcel of rice land in the subvillage of Dinauyan.

“I did not immediately tell my husband because I wanted to surprise him. It was too late when I found out that it was a scam,” she said.

A mother from Didipio cried as she narrated how her two children failed to enroll in college last month because the money that she had kept for their tuition and other school needs was lost in the scam.


CA OKs trial of fishermen’s class suit vs mining firm

by Leonard Postrado

Manila Bulletin

12 July 2015

The Court of Appeals (CA) has given the go signal for the full-blown trial of the class suit filed by a group of fishermen seeking damages against Marcopper Mining Corporation, almost two decades since the disastrous mine tailings leak on Calancan Bay in Marinduque that adversely affected their livelihood and resulted in sickness and death in surrounding communities.

In a 10-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Reyes, Jr., the CA’s Fifth Division thumbed down the petition filed by Marcopper seeking the reversal of the order issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 38 on July 5, 2013 denying its motion to dismiss the class suit.

The appellate court rejected Marcopper’s argument that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in not junking the complaint filed by Calancan Bay Fisherfolk Federation, et al, based on prescription and laches or undue delay in seeking relief.

Marcopper claimed even before 1980 and until 1986, the complainants were already aware of the discharge of the mine tailings and yet they did not take any legal action during those times.

However, the CA said there was no grave abuse of discretion on part of the trial court in denying Marcopper’s motion to dismiss, considering the environmental disaster caused by the leaked mine tailings.

“The effect of the pollution and damage wrought by Marcopper on Calancan Bay — the people, their livelihood and the environment — is truly immense in terms of health, quality of life, and source of livelihood,” the CA said.

It noted that the complaint even included the names of the persons who have died and the children who have developed diseases due to the mine tailings.

The complainants also claimed that based on medical reports, the nature of heavy metal poising is “persisitent and systemic” and will likely be transferred from the present generation to the next, particularly to the fetus by mothers with existing heavy metal burden.

In October, 1975, Marcopper was granted a permit to operate a “Tailings Disposal System” in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque by the then National Pollution Control Commission for a submerged disposal system.

Starting 1975, Marcopper discharged mine tailings from its Mt. Tapian mining operations into Calancan Bay.

In March, 1997, a joint team of medical professionals from the Department of Health and the University of the Philippines conducted limited health studies among 108 Calancan Bay villagers and found unacceptable lead and mercury levels and blood cyanide levels in some children.


Small town takes on big mines

By Stella A. Estremera

Sun Star Davao

2 August 2015

RED bald mountains loom over the green stretch of the coastal town of Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, the last town in the ore-rich region of Caraga to resist the encroachment of giant mining companies.

The people, however, are not just fighting mining through mass mobilizations and campaigns, they are offering an alternative that can bring in the money to more people: tourism.

On an outrigger boat toward Ayoke island, a sitio of Barangay General of the more 233 years old settlement, you catch glimpses of the barges and ships loaded with mounds of red soil that dwarf the backhoes that shovel the soil in. No wonder the bald expanse of red mountains in the background looked angry...

But it's not just the mountains that are angry...

"People have barricaded the road made by Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation [MMDC] in barangay Cagangahan toward the neighboring town of Carrascal," said Emma Hotchkiss, president of Baywatch Inc., the organization rallying the people of Cantilan against mining.

Carrascal hosts the biggest mining operations in the province of Surigao del Sur and has mountains upon mountains traversed by hundreds of heavy equipment kicking thick clouds of red dust that reach the island group of Barangay General.

Hotchkiss was referring to the barricade set up in April 2013 that forced Marcventures to stop its incursion in Cantilan territory.

The Municipal Government of Cantilan has been waging a legal battle against Marcventures after it started mining operations in Barangay Cabangahan, through what town officials claim is a cancelled mining production sharing agreement (MPSA) from another company, the Ventura Timber Corporation. Marcventures has been insisting that its operation is aboveboard.

In May 2011, continuous rain unleashed floodwaters thick with silt that covered the rice fields with a mass of thick red mud. The mud killed the rice plants and rendered the rice fields infertile until the residues were washed away for several planting seasons. The fields became too acidic for rice to grow.

The greater source of unrest is that the slopes of Barangay Cagangahan are the headwaters of two of its major rivers -- Carac-an and Alamyo -- and irrigation sources.

The floods happened again in 2012, Mayor Genito B. Guardo said.

"We have 2,200 hectares of rice lands, 1,800 hectares are irrigated. The 2011 floods destroyed around 80 percent," Guardo added.

Worse, the mountains that nurture the minerals are not just where the headwaters are but also the watershed from where the town gets its drinking water.

"If our waters become polluted, what will happen to us?" Hotchkiss asked.

Voices from the fields

Anamae Fernandez Lico, a mother of four whose husband is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), was supplementing their income through rice farming. Rice farmers in Cateel observe two planting seasons a year.

For each planting, she spends P15,000, which she can recoup after harvest. But when the floods came in 2011, the yield from her one-hectare field was just around 11 sacks.

"When the floods came, I could no longer recoup my capital and even until the second cropping I couldn't harvest enough because the floods brought in sand from the river when the dike broke," she said in the vernacular.

She stopped planting for two years and had to make do with what her husband earns for all their family's needs.

Chito Trillanes, spokesperson for the Vicariate of the Carcanmadcarlanpar (referring to the five municipalities of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza, and Barangay Parang of Cantilan, in Surigao del Sur) and chief of staff of the mayor, said that while the Alamio River regularly breaches its banks when the regular week-long rains in Cantilan would pour this would take hours even days, since the buildup of water is steady. In the 2012 floods at the time that Marcsventures was operating in the mountains of Cantilan the Alamio overflowed in just 45 minutes.

"The flooding not only came from the minesite but also from the road widening made in their forestland, bringing silt two feet deep," he said.

The soil became very acidic. The advice from agriculture technologists: increase the nitrogen. This cost the farmers more, aside from the fact that too much nitrates from soil pollutes water sources. The siltation also reduced the capabilities of irrigation systems to the point that as much as 450 hectares could no longer be irrigated.

The sad part is that while the people were trying to protect their land from mining, they were being sued for various offenses.

"This is a big blow to the people who are just protecting their livelihood when they are now the ones threatened," Trillanes said.

"All those mountains are our watershed, that is where all mining operations are," Barangay Cabas-an Councilor Agustin Andoy said.

Fr. Frank Olviz, San Pedro Ap

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info