MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: President tells miners country does not need them

Published by MAC on 2016-08-02
Source: PDI, Phil Star, statements, Reuters, Bloomberg (2016-08-02)

The Philippines mining industry continues to be front-page news since the last MAC update (see: Philippines: A new hope for mine-affected communities)

The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, has robustly defended his own critical policy with regard to mining, as well as that of his new Secretary of the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Gina Lopez. Basically he has told them to stop grumbling and obey the law, as the country can economically do without them. In fact, he went further - as he is wont - saying "If you refuse to obey, I will place you inside the mining pit and cover it." [sic]

Aside from the death threat, he has at least mirrored Ms Lopez, who has said she can forego future mining investments, as they are ultimately of less benefit to the country as a whole. This follows a protracted debate between Ms. Lopez & the Chamber of Mines (COMP) over the relative poverty in mine-affected communities.

Perhaps more importantly if follows on statements from the new DENR Secretary calling the 1995 Philippine Mining Act (the basis of Philippine mining law) “grossly unfair”, and noting she is not in favour of open pit mining.

Other Philippine politicians have joined in this critique of the industry, with Senate President Franklin Drilon calling for more equitable industry-government revenue sharing.

In terms of action, Ms. Lopez has kept the mining moratorium in place, and called for a comprehensive audit of existing mines in the country. More importantly her department has continued to suspend the licenses of nickel miners for infringement of environmental rules, including the 'voluntary' suspension of ore loading activities at Hinatuan Mining on Manicani Island, Eastern Samar.

DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) seems to have been particularly hit, with communities calling for the permanent closure of its key mines, and DMCI president threatening to stop all operations, claiming actions are being taken for 'political' reasons.

Global nickel prices have risen, apparently on the back of Ms Lopez's actions.

She has also vowed to cancel OceanaGold's permit at Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya, following community barricades and at the request of the Governor. On top of that she noted she will not allow the controversial Tampakan project, once owned by Glencore Xstrata, and that there will not be mining in Sarangani Province.

On climate change the new President has been critical of the Paris Agreement, while the new DENR Secretary will prioritize renewable energy over fossil fuels like coal in approving permits for new power plants.

All in all it seems that - despite the odd counter action like the end of a mining ban in Capiz - the mining industry is on the ropes. However, whether any knock-out blows will be delivered waits to be seen.

Duterte on mining firms: We can survive without you

By Alexis Romero

philstar.com

1 August 2016

This was the stern warning issued Monday to mining firms by President Rodrigo Duterte as he vowed to be tough on businesses that are destroying the environment and violating government standards.

Duterte said he is ready to forego the state revenues being generated from mining companies, believing the country could survive without them.

“You (mining firms) only give me P40 billion each year. I can do away with the P40 billion. I will shutter you all. You obey or we will survive as a nation without you,” he said in a press conference in Malacañan.

Duterte also scored mining firms for “destroying the land” and for criticizing Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s strict implementation of mining regulations.

“Lopez has my full support. So stop this nonsense of discrediting her because I won’t believe you a bit,” the president said.

“She (Lopez) is not incompetent, she is a bright lady. And she is simply a crusader,” he added.

Duterte said Marcopper, the company that spilled mine and toxic wastes into the Boac River in 1996, has yet to fully clean up its mess.

“Oligarchs forge partnerships with foreigners and they get rich at the expense of our native land. Do not do it. I will not allow it,” the president said.

Duterte said he would tap the military and police to shut down erring mining firms. He said mining operations have resulted in landslides in some areas.

“You say mining is a critical component of the Philippine economy, of course it is, it's income. But you are also making a critical damage,” he said.

“If you refuse to obey, I will place you inside the mining pit and cover it. You want to try it, fine. Let’s do it.”


Nickel price jumps on Manila mining crackdown

Frik Els

http://www.mining.com/nickel-price-jumps-manila-mining-crackdown/

1 August 2016

On Monday, nickel exchanged hands for $10,755 a tonne in London, the highest since mid-August last year and  a 24% advance in 2016. Measured from its 2016 trough of $7,725 a tonne struck in February, the price of the metal mainly used in steelmaking is up 39%.

Nevertheless, it's still nowhere near where it was in early in 2014 when Indonesia's ban on ore exports led many to believe the volatile metal is entering a bull market.

Back then, nickel miners in the Philippines stepped into the breach, more than making up for the dearth of supply from Indonesia. Massive stockpiles built up by Chinese pig nickel makers, ample stocks held in LME and Shanghai warehouses also pushed prices lower.

Indonesia's ore ban remains in place until at least next year and mining companies in the world's fourth most populous country now face further regulatory uncertainty from the planned transfer of licensing powers from local to provincial authorities and a renewed environmental crackdown.

Apart from continuing problems in Indonesia, the Chinese pig nickel industry is now wholly dependent on Philippine miners (see chart) and recent development in the Asian nation could set up another big run-up in the price.

Rodrigo Duterte, sworn in as the Philippines president at the end of June, has ratcheted up the rhetoric against mining companies operating in the country.

Reuters quotes Duterte as saying the country could forego the $850m in government revenues from the mining industry which represents just 1% of GDP:

"We will survive as a nation without you," Duterte told a media briefing, referring to the country's miners. "Either you follow strictly government standards or you close down."

According to PGI Intelligence, a London-based research company, investment in mining in the Philippines dropped to a three-year low of just $924m last year.

The Philippines natural resources ministry is conducting an audit of all mining operations within the country and have already shut down six mines since Duterte came into office, three of them nickel mines. The ministry is also calling for an outright ban on all open pit mining and a 2012 moratorium on new mining licences also remains in place.

The proposed changes to the licences, which are supported by the new Duterte administration, would increase the government’s share of mining revenues. Mining companies in the Philippines already face the most burdensome tax regime in Southeast Asia, with an average of 40 percent of revenues transferred to the government, via a 30 percent corporate income tax and several mining-specific taxes.


Lopez willing to forgo some mining investments

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

http://www.mb.com.ph/lopez-willing-to-forgo-some-mining-investments/

31 July 2016

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is willing to forgo parts of the projected $30 billion worth of investments in the mining sector as regulators believe the money would not ultimately benefit the Filipino people.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said the government does not mind if some investments expected in the mining sector over the next 10 years would not take place at all, saying the country anyway will not benefit in it.

“Of all those investments, we benefit minimally. Eighty-two percent of their net goes to the mining [company] only, while 18 percent goes to the country and very, very little, if anything even, goes to the community. And those investments don’t even mean labor,” Lopez told Business Bulletin.

Lopez earlier said she will not allow the $5.9-billion Tampakan project — the country’s largest stalled mining project and one of the world’s largest copper mines — to take off during her term.

While Lopez has repeatedly stated that she is not against the mining industry, the official also explained that she is willing to deal with disappointed investors over her stringent mining regulations.

“I’m not against the mining industry but the current operations of mining companies cause a lot of suffering,” she added.

She even said that mining companies only contribute “0.6 percent to employment and .004 percent in government revenues”.

“The costs of destruction that they make far outweigh any benefit that they bring into the country,” Lopez further said.

Since the DENR’s audit on mining companies began, the number of suspended operations has also been increasing.

While Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno didn’t necessarily admit this could dampen the investment climate in the sector, but said the ongoing audit would have a long-term benefit.

“If you have an industry that is clean, they would attract investments,” Jasareno said in a separate interview.

Then he said “any mining investor who thinks that the government is not doing it right, they can always complain.”

Data from Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) showed that the mining sector could infuse around $20 billion to $30 billion worth of investments into the economy over the next five to 10 years.

This includes the much anticipated Tampakan Mine project that Lopez is not keen about.

When asked what could be an alternative source of investments for the country, she only said “tourism and agriculture has much more benefit to the economy and has much more social impact”.

In 2015, the total investments in major mining projects in the Philippines reached $924.94 million in 2015, down by 22.5 percent from the total investments of $1.193 billion made in 2014.

Investments in new mineral exploration projects, on the other hand, stood at $78.97 million, down also by 44.23 percent from last year’s investment of $141.6 million.


Gina, miners trade barbs

By Ronnel W. Domingo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

29 July 2016

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Thursday accused the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) of twisting official poverty data to serve its members’ interests.

Earlier this month, COMP—comprising the biggest and smaller mining companies in the country—said none of the 10 poorest provinces in the country, as listed by the Philippine Statistics Authority, hosted an operating mine, contrary to Lopez’s claim the poorest places in the Philippines were mining areas.

COMP executive vice president Nelia C. Halcon said then that mining actually eased the suffering of the poor in host communities by complementing the government’s social services and through environmental protection and enhancement programs.

On Thursday, Lopez said that one had only to go to Caraga, Eastern Visayas or Compostela Valley “to see that mining has not only failed to help lift poor Filipinos from poverty but has added to their socioeconomic difficulties.”

She said Eastern Visayas and Caraga had the second- and fourth-highest rates of poverty incidence in the country and were host to some of the biggest mining operations.

Citing data from PSA’s 2015 Family Income and Expenditures Survey, Lopez said in Eastern Visayas, “where there are mining operations in Leyte and Eastern Samar,” 47 percent of the population was poor.

“The poverty incidence is 46.7 percent in Leyte and 50 percent in Eastern Samar, nearly twice the national average of 26.3 percent,” she said.

“In Caraga, where there is mining in all provinces, 43.9 percent of the people wallow in poverty,” she said.

Lopez said COMP’s argument that mining did not cause poverty and suffering just because there was no mining in the 10 poorest provinces was flawed considering that neither was there mining in the 10 least poor provinces.

The head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources—a staunch antimining advocate—pointed out a need to police the industry and ensure responsible mining.

In June, Lopez had told the Inquirer that there was no such thing as responsible mining, especially with the open-pit method.

“If there is responsible mining, why is it that wherever there is mining, there is poverty,” she had said.

On Thursday, Lopez said people from areas hosting mining operations came to the DENR “every day in droves, bewailing their suffering, and you tell me mining does not cause suffering?”

Visit mining communities, DENR chief urged

Group says poor live outside their jurisdiction

By Ronnel W. Domingo,

Philippine Daily Inquirer

30 July 2016

Filipinos in mining communities are living above the poverty threshold and satisfied with their lives and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez should pay them a visit to see for herself, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).

The COMP said this as Lopez accused the group of “twisting the truth” about poverty statistics.

“In mining communities which are within the area of jurisdiction of the mining operations, households are provided with free housing, water, education, health and other services and these noncash benefits make the households’ disposable income enough to enjoy a quality of life that is not available to farmers, fisherman, factory workers and other wage earners,” COMP executive vice president Nelia C. Halcon told the Inquirer.

The industry group and the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have engaged in a word war, using data from the Philippine Statistical Authority’s 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey—among other data sets—to support their arguments.

Lopez—a staunch antimining advocate —had reiterated that there was poverty wherever there are mining activities. Halcon said PSA data disproved such statement.

“She (Lopez) should visit mining communities and talk to mining households to see for herself that people living inside the mining companies’ jurisdiction are contented with their way of life and are not suffering as she has been insinuating repeatedly,” Halcon said.

“She may be talking about unemployed people who are living outside the host mining community, people hoping to get employed in the mine as most mining operations become a magnet for migrants in their quest for a good life,” Halcon added.

Halcon maintained that mining activities helped reduce poverty in host communities since mining firms complemented the government’s social services.

Even then, the COMP official said it was the local government units (LGUs) who had the responsibility of implementing antipoverty policies “since they are the ones who can identify the many faces of poverty at the local levels, not the mining companies.”

“Mining operations only complement LGU programs in easing poverty at the periphery of the host communities,” she said.

Earlier this month, COMP—comprising the biggest and smaller mining companies in the country—said none of the 10 poorest provinces in the country, as listed by the PSA, hosted an operating mine, contrary to Lopez’s claim the poorest places in the Philippines were mining areas.

However, Lopez argued that one just had to go to Caraga, Eastern Visayas or Compostela Valley “to see that mining has not only failed to help lift poor Filipinos from poverty but has added to their socioeconomic difficulties.”

She said Eastern Visayas and Caraga had the second- and fourth-highest rates of poverty incidence in the country and were host to some of the biggest mining operations.

Citing data from PSA’s 2015 Family Income and Expenditures Survey, Lopez said in Eastern Visayas, “where there are mining operations in Leyte and Eastern Samar,” 47 percent of the population was poor. “The poverty incidence is 46.7 percent in Leyte and 50 percent in Eastern Samar, nearly twice the national average of 26.3 percent,” she said. “In Caraga, where there is mining in all provinces, 43.9 percent of the people wallow in poverty,” she said.

In June, Lopez had told the Inquirer that there was no such thing as responsible mining, especially with the open-pit method.

“If there is responsible mining, why is it that wherever there is mining, there is poverty,” she had said.

On Thursday, Lopez said people from areas hosting mining operations came to the DENR “every day in droves, bewailing their suffering, and you tell me mining does not cause suffering?”

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

Duterte’s first SONA: A promising start, a challenge for bigger, bolder steps for the environment

Kalikasan PNE Press Statement

28 July 2016

We in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) welcome the promising statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered last Monday. We commend his pro-environment and pro-people positions on environmental issues, while at the same time urge him to rethink and reconsider some of his policies that have adverse implications for the environment.

Being a staunch critic of destructive mining, President Duterte once again warned against mining corporations that cause destruction to our environment. In the short span since the president’s first day up to the present, the current administration has already penalized erring mining companies through the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Gina Lopez, such as the suspension of erring mining companies operating in Zambales and Palawan provinces.

We support Duterte’s consistent pronouncement that it will review all existing permits not just of mining but also of logging and other environmentally sensitive projects. This review should be anchored on the plight and interests of communities who have long suffered from the negative impacts of environmental destruction. It should comprehensively assess the various companies’ track records in complying with the highest environmental standards, and respecting people’s rights of communities affected by their operations.

The DENR should further conduct genuine consultations and dialogues with various grassroots communities, and make them partners of this comprehensive review. Any company assessed with a concrete track record of environmental destruction, community displacement, and human rights violation should immediately have their permits revoked and their operations closed down.

We urge the current administration to show its earnestness in ending the suffering of mining-affected communities by stepping up efforts in reorienting the country’s current mining policy, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, away from corporate and foreign interests towards genuinely addressing the people’s needs.

The Mining Act of 1995 has long allowed the liberalization of our mineral resources, opening it up to the rapacious plunder of our mineral resources by foreign corporations and their local compradors. A profit-driven and foreignd-dominated large-scale mining industry consequently rapidly accelerates the rapid destruction of our environment, but it contributes negligibly to our country’s employment and economy.

Until this law is replaced by a pro-people and pro-environment mining policy such as the People’s Mining Bill, the crises wrought by big mining will remain a chronic pox upon our people, lands, and environment.

Pres. Duterte has also mentioned the development of Laguna Lake, particularly his plans to transform the lake into an economic zone showcasing ecotourism. The development of the lake should primarily focus on rehabilitation, to genuinely contribute to uplifting the lives of the poor fisherfolk, who Duterte himself said should be the prime beneficiary of the Lake’s bounty.

Thus, any project that would result to the displacement of fisherfolk communities should be rejected. The lingering plans to pursue the stalled reclamation and construction activities for the Laguna Lake Expressway Dike Project (LLEDP) should be permanently repudiated by the Duterte government.

Pres. Duterte has again firmly reiterated his stand against the impositions of the Paris Climate Agreement, stating that the country needs to utilize cheap coal in order to industrialize, and maintaining that it is unfair that the top polluter countries, all industrialized nations, do not shoulder bigger emissions cuts.

We agree that the top polluter countries should have greater responsibility to cut their emissions and redress the low-carbon but high-vulnerability countries, and that our country must strive to build national industries to build our capacities to confront the impacts of climate change. But the emerging reality is that national industrialization is possible without coal, through the utilization of our indigenous and renewable energy sources in the context of clean energy technologies fast becoming cost-competitive and accessible.

More important is the environmental and health impacts of coal, known as the dirtiest energy source. We invite Pres. Duterte to visit the communities living adjacent to coal power plants, especially in the country’s oldest coal power operation in Calaca, Batangas, for him to witness how this pollutive energy source has led to the deterioration of health and loss of livelihood of thousands of families, and the degradation of air and water quality in its environs.

With an overwhelming satisfaction rate as president in Duterte’s first few weeks, the Filipino people are very expectant that change will indeed come under his presidency. We urge him to continue to be open and listen to environmental advocates most especially to grassroots communities, and take bigger and bolder steps in pursuing a new policy regime that will genuinely work for national development and environmental protection.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator – Kalikasan PNE – 0905 432 5211

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Steer clear of bad Aquino policies, environment groups urge Duterte

By Karol Ilagan

http://pcij.org/blog/2016/07/24/steer-clear-of-bad-aquino-policies-environment-groups-urge-duterte

24 July 2016

FRANCES Quimpo’s recollection of the country’s worst tragedies under a parade of Philippine presidents past reveals a singular pattern — death, devastation, and a dearth of lessons learned.

More than 200 people died when mounds of garbage at the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City collapsed. Triggered by a typhoon, the landslide took place six months before Joseph Estrada’s ouster from Malacañang in January 2001.

During Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s nine-year presidency, a string of typhoons — Frank, Ondoy, and Pepeng, to name a few — flooded many parts of the country, taking hundreds of lives and damaging billions worth of properties. It was also under Arroyo when the government’s flagship mining project in Rapu-Rapu, Albay spewed out cyanide into the sea, causing massive fish kills.

Quimpo, executive director of the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC), said these disasters should have served Arroyo’s successor, Benigno S. Aquino III, important lessons. The political and economic policies that previous governments had pushed, she said, had put the environment at risk, and aggravated the impact of natural hazards in what was by then the climate-vulnerable state of the Philippines.

But in the next six years as president, Aquino saw the issuance of executive orders, which according to environmental advocates, did little to address the problems they were meant to solve. On top of these new policies are old laws that are either problematic to begin with or not enforced properly.

Gathered at a forum Monday afternoon, environmental groups thus urged President Rodrigo R. Duterte to steer clear of the programs and policies of his predecessors that run counter to the protection of communities and natural resources.

Presenting CEC’s annual “State of the Philippine Environment” report, Owen Migraso, CEC coordinator for the Eastern Visayas Yolanda Recovery Program, said the Aquino government issued Industrial Forest Management Agreements in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and CARAGA, which were all recently hit by disasters. Multiple mining tenements have also been located on Luzon island, which hosts the greatest concentration of unique mammals.

Migraso cited Aquino’s Executive Order No. 23 on logging, Executive Order No. 26 or the National Greening Program, and Executive Order No. 79 on mining as problematic. These orders, he said, have turned forests and other resources into commodities at the expense of the lives and livelihood of poor and vulnerable communities.

The forum, co-organized by the CEC, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), and Eco-Challenge for Change coalition, also served as a venue to discuss the environmental challenges that the groups want Duterte to address.

Secretary Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was invited to speak at the forum but she failed to show up.

Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE’s national coordinator, said that so far, their groups have not seen any actions from Duterte that would run against their environmental agenda; they have not also heard, however, of any pronouncements or seen any significant moves that would signal changes in the Aquino administration’s policies.

A week before Duterte took his oath of office last June 30, the “Eco-Challenge for Change”, a coalition of environmental groups, including CEC and Kalikasan PNE, presented its 14-point agenda for the president to act on.

Signed by 41 groups, the coalition’s list of demands includes stopping illegal large-scale mining in environmentally critical areas and imposing a moratorium on the new construction and expansion of coal-fired power plants.

“Ang nakikita namin ngayon ay ang mahigpit na implementation ng mga environmental guidelines, pag-pepenalize ng mga violating private entities, at mga pangako na magkakaroon ng mabuting komunikasyon sa pagitan ng mga komunidad at mga organizations na tulad namin,” Bautista said. (What we are seeing now is strict implementation of environmental guidelines, penalizing of violating private entities, and promises that there will be good communication systems between communities and organizations like ours).

Since Lopez assumed leadership of DENR, work in at least four mining operations has been suspended. The department has likewise conducted an audit of mining activities.

Bautista said the coalition should be able to give a more thorough assessment of the Duterte administration after 100 days. “Sa ngayon, binibigyan namin sila ng puwang para patunayan ang kanilang tindig para sa kalikasan,” he said. (For now, we are giving them the chance to prove their stand for the environment)

While Duterte has shown a track record favoring environmental protection, the groups are also well aware of the former mayor’s support for the construction of a coal power plant and the establishment of palm oil plantations in Davao City.

On Monday, Duterte said he would not honor the Paris climate agreement, laying blame on developed countries for their bigger role in climate change. Signed by 178 countries, the historic deal is an effort to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing carbon emissions.

Bautista said Duterte was right to demand greater responsibility from developed countries but that they hope, too, that the president would not support the expansion of coal-fired power plants as this would be counter-productive.

“Our renewable and indigenous energy resources such as hydro, geothermal, solar, and natural gas are more than enough to provide our energy needs now and in the future,” he said in a statement.

Environmental sociologist Patria Gwen M.L. Borcena, meanwhile, said DENR needs a “reform team” composed of members from civil society and the academe who will occupy key positions and help Secretary Lopez.

This, Borcena said, is another lesson that should be learned from the previous administration. To be fair, she said an environment agenda was included in Aquino’s “A Social Contract with the Filipino People” and later as one chapter in the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan. This, she said, was the first time for the country’s development plan to have an entire chapter devoted to environment and natural resources.

Borcena said the execution of these plans did not run well in large measure because DENR did not have a reform team. Former DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and his leadership team, she said, came from the bureaucracy.

Prior to his appointment in 2010, Paje was DENR undersecretary for field operations and executive director of the Minerals Development Council under the Office of the President.

Moreover, Borcena said DENR would benefit from promoting “participatory environmental governance at all levels,” which was absent during Paje’s term. This setup could help ensure a partnership between civil society organizations and DENR.

“It shouldn’t just be token partnership. It should be institutionalized,” she said.

Borcena is a co-convenor of the Citizens’ Environment Network. She was also involved in Aquino’s presidential campaign and later joined the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group that crafted the environment chapter in the Philippine Development Plan.

At the forum’s close, CEC’s Quimpo noted that environmental issues could not be separated from political and economic policies. Efforts such as tree-planting and coastal cleanups should go hand in hand with fixing problems at the policy level, she added.

Quimpo said the president has so far made pro-people policy pronouncements but the challenge is delivering results. “Let us use these to ensure that change will come by pressing the Duterte government to walk the talk.”


 

Sasampolan: Duterte will make miner Eric Gutierrez pay for tax perks on jets, choppers and destroying Agusan

http://politics.com.ph/sasampolan-duterte-will-make-miner-eric-gutierrez-pay-tax-perks-jets-choppers-destroying-agusan/

18 July 2016

President Rodrigo Duterte is training his guns on influence peddlers who have used their connections to build their fortune at the expense of the government and even the environment.
And he doesn’t care if you’re well connected with political groups or with giant multinational firms.

Based on his speech during a reunion with San Beda classmates in Malacanang on 17 July 2016, Duterte is likely to make businessman Eric Gutierrez his Exhibit A in his serious campaign these rich parasites who suck the blood out of the country’s financial and natural resources.

“Itong mga elitista, pati itong mga yumaman, living off the fat of the land of the Philippines, walang mga ginawa kung hindi mag-koneksyon nila online,” said Duterte.

“Corruption will stop and I will take away the privilege of mga tax exemptions na malalaki. ‘Di niyo alam ‘yung mga helicopters nila, mga eroplano. Do not do that to me. Bayad kayong lahat. Marami dito: Gutierrez (you cannot) destroy Tubay in Agusan del Norte.” said Duterte.

Duterte is referring to the air fleet of Gutierrez, the owner of San Roque Metals Inc. (SRMI), who lent out his choppers and private jets to defeated presidential bet Mar Roxas in the last elections. Gutierrez has been accused of using his connections to get tax exemptions for his airfleet. Gutierrez has denied these charges.

Gutierrez’s SRMI is registered as a small scale miner but it was able to ship out 1.8 million tons of ore to China worth P28 billion from 2006 to 2007.

It was fined P7 million by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that year but SRMI managed to continue its operations in the Agusan mines when it elevated its case to the Court of Appeals Supreme Court. SRMI lost its case in the CA and the SC.

Aside from Gutierrez and mining firms, Duterte said he would also go after logging companies who fail to live up to their commitment to rehabilitate the areas they exploit.

“You’re supposed to plant trees. Ngayon, pag wala akong makita na kahoy tumutubo dyan, I’ll cancel your paper. Kung multinational ka… Wala,” said Duterte.

Duterte assured he has no plans to bring any person or company down in his anti-corruption crusade. “Basta lahat, sumunod lang kayo sa batas. Walang bending, wala ‘yang pabalik-balikin mo,” said Duterte.


 

DENR chief pushes to ban open-pit mining

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Manila Bulletin

19 July 2016

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) chief Gina Lopez has expressed her animosity towards the “grossly unfair” Philippine Mining Act of 1995, indicating that the mining act should be overhauled in a way that it would no longer allow open-pit mining.

Passed into law in 1995, the Philippine Mining Act is the main legislation that governs all mining operations in the country. It includes measures to protect the environment and defines areas in which mining should be allowed.

Still unsure of what kind of amendments in the mining law she wants to push for, Lopez said firmly that aside from the pending revenue-sharing bill, which would give the government a higher mining revenue share, she would definitely work towards the ban of open-pit mining in the country.

The country’s mining law currently allows open-pit mining but Lopez is confident that she can turn the table around. Some time in 2010, Costa Rica became the first country in Latin America to ban open-pit metal mining.

“I am not in favor of open pit mining. It wrecks havoc in our islands.  The mining law MUST be revised. It is grossly unfair!” Lopez said in a text message.

Some of the companies in the country that employ the open pit mining method are Semirara, Oceana Gold, and Atlas Mining.

In 2010, the US$5.9 billion gold-copper Tampakan project in Mindanao has also been put on hold after the local government unit (LGU) of South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in the province.

It also forced Anglo-Swiss miner Glencore plc to exit the project, the biggest foreign divestment recorded in the Philippines.

“I will push for the the revenue sharing but I also don’t want open pit mining. [It destroys] small islands! It’s so bad! Our farmers take the risk while some business man earns a lot of money. It’s so wrong,” Lopez further said.

Then she reiterated that above all else, the government should have a bigger take on mining revenues, something that she’d been pushing for since day one as DENR chief.

“More money should go to the communities directly. As much more! And they should pay for all the minerals they get from our soil, some of which are precious not just the nickel, etc.,” Lopez said.


Duterte defends Gina Lopez: ‘She’s just doing her job’

By Maila Ager

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/799184/duterte-defends-gina-lopez-shes-just-doing-her-job#ixzz4FR9pldbh

25 July 2016

President Rodrigo Duterte used his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday to defend  newly installed Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez against criticisms, saying she was a “crusader” doing her job.

“Many are complaining against the appointment of Gina Lopez. But si Gina, pati ako we share the same, paradigm—the interest of the country should come first,” Duterte said.

“Gina Lopez and I are telling you kung ano ang governments standards (what the governments standards are), don’t destroy the environment…wala tayong problema (we won’t have any problem)…Just pay the correct taxes.”

“Gina Lopez is just doing her job. You know, she’s really a crusader,” he said.

Duterte then recalled how Lopez got the job after the latter paid him a visit several times in his home province in Davao.

“Ano kaya kung ikaw na lang DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) [secretary] ko?” he recalled  telling Lopez. “Bigla syang sagot, totoo ka?”

After consulting her family, Lopez then accepted the job, the President said. RAM/rga


Lopez keeps DENR moratorium on new mining projects

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Manila Bulletin

12 July 2016

The first memorandum order signed by Gina Lopez as the new Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary is feared to further hurt mining industry as it keeps the moratorium on the approval of new mining projects aside from ordering an audit of existing ones.

Lopez signed on Monday its first memorandum order (MO), calling for an audit of existing mines in the country and imposes a continuing moratorium on the new ones. This memo 2016-01 is in effect until formally terminated.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Executive Vice President Nelia Halcon said this order jeopardizes mining investments in the country, impeding on the otherwise positive investment environment created during the recent business forum in Davao City led by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

“The Chamber of Mines and its entire membership continues to rely on the President’s pronouncement to the DENR to ‘just implement the Mining Act of 1995 and ensure responsible mining’ in the country,” Halcon said.

“A continuing moratorium on new mining projects only breeds more confusion and uncertainty particularly on capital intensive and risky mining business,” she added.

Halcon also argued that since 2010, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has been undertaking an assessment of all mining permits and agreements in its ‘Use it, Lose it’ policy in a bid to purge the system of non-moving mining applications.

She also said that Executive Order 79 already called for a review of the performance of existing mining operations and a continuation of the cleansing of non-moving mining rights holders.

This review, as the order reads, “shall be based on the guidelines and parameters set forth in the specific mining contract or agreement and on other pertinent laws, rules, and regulations such as the Mining Act of 1995 and the Labor Code”.


Mining group hits new DENR circular

Anna Leah E. Gonzales

http://thestandard.com.ph/business/210600/mining-group-hits-new-denr-circular.html

12 July 2016

The new memorandum order issued by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez will jeopardize mining investments in the country, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said Tuesday.

Lopez earlier issued Memorandum Order No. 2016-01 calling for an audit on all mining firms and imposing a moratorium on new projects.

CoMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said in a statement the new order “impedes on the otherwise positive investment environment created during the business forum in Davao City.”

Halcon said responsible mining was crucial in driving investments in rural areas.

“A continuing moratorium on new mining projects only breeds more confusion and uncertainty, particularly on capital-intensive and risky mining business,” Halcon said.

Halcon said that since 2010, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau had undertaken an assessment of all mining permits and agreements in a bid to purge the system of non-moving mining applications.

“After six years of review, it is now incumbent upon MGB to report the results to the new secretary before another comprehensive review is undertaken,” Halcon said.

DENR earlier ordered mining companies to secure an ISO 14001 certification.

Halcon said of the 42 total operating mines, only 21 were members of the CoMP and of the 21 members, 17 had fully complied with ISO 14001, with the remaining four waiting to be certified anytime soon.

“We are now calling on MGB to release the list of cancelled mining applications in the spirit of transparency,” Halcon said.

“The Chamber of Mines and its entire membership continues to rely on the President’s pronouncement to the DENR to just implement the Mining Act of 1995 and ensure responsible mining in the country,” Halcon said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Coalition for Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining and environment group Ban Toxics called on President Rodrigo Duterte and Lopez to hear out the concerns of and support the artisanal and small-scale mining sector.

The coalition appealed to the new administration to respond to the sector’s issues such as poverty, human rights, legalization, amendment of mining laws, occupational health and environmental impact.

The group said they were “willing to cooperate with the new administration in realizing these goals.”

“This coalition hopes to change the game for small-scale mining communities in the country,” said Ban Toxics development program manager Evelyn Cubello.

“With proper support, it can be the best vehicle for miners to look at more responsible mining practices, end poverty and call for mercury-free methods of mining. This is a step towards a more sustainable ASM community,” Cubello said.

Ban Toxics said it was working with small-scale gold miners to eliminate the use of mercury and promote responsible small-scale mining practices.

Ban Toxics said the sector consisted of 350,000 people and benefited around 2 million people. The group said the sector’s production also reached 28 tons a year, or about 80 percent of the country’s annual gold production.

“Because it is considered illegal, the ASM sector has largely been ignored and unrecognized by the government. ASM communities particularly their Indigenous Peoples, women and children, frequently lack valuable support from the government,” the coalition said.


Audit of operating mines to raise awareness on responsible mining — MGB

Northbound Philippines News Online 

13 July 2016

MANILA — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on Wednesday said the new round of audit of all operating mines in the country ordered by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Paz Lopez is being implemented to raise the bar on responsible mining.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno, in an interview with the media, said they would impose a stricter set of criteria in their audit, which covers some 105 metallic and non-metallic mines nationwide — including quarrying and small-scale mining.

“The comprehensive review will focus on the companies’ compliance with the requirements of the Mining Act of 1995, Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), Forestry Law, and other laws pertaining to mining. We want to see whether an specific violation would entail suspension of operations,” he said.

Jasareno said the new round of audit will look beyond regulatory requirements, but also on social and economic impact of the mining operations nationwide.

Citing the results of their initial review on mining companies, the MGB chief confirmed that there are frequent violators of mining rules and regulations.

“You’ll be surprised with the number of companies violating the conditions of their contract… majority of which were slapped with equivalent amount of penalty depending on the discretion of who conducted the review,” he said.

“With the new round of audit, there will be a list of criteria they need to comply with, otherwise they may face suspension,” he added.

Meanwhile, a coalition of organizations and groups who acts as guardians of environment on Wednesday welcomed the call of the DENR chief of a new mining law.

“ATM (Alyansang Tigil Mina) welcomes the pronouncements of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez on mining issues. Particularly, we support the moves to immediately conduct an audit of all mining project, a moratorium on mining applications, and her personal position against open-pit mining. Our alliance also believes that Secretary Lopez made the correct call in stating publicly that we need a new mining law,” the group said in a statement.

According to the group, the mining audit and the moratorium on mining applications are provisions under Executive Order 79 of the Aquino administration, and so these administrative priorities are well past due.

“We commend Secretary Lopez for fast-tracking these audit and putting in place the moratorium within the first 30 days of the Duterte administration. We recommend to Secretary Lopez to ensure that the audit is not limited to technical and operational matters of mining projects but also look into social, economic, political, health and gender impacts of these mining projects to the host-communities,” it said.

ATM said it is also critical that pending/live legal cases or complaints against mining companies and their operations are investigated as part of the audit.

“We categorically support the ban on open-pit mining policy, particularly in areas designated and identified by the DENR-MGB as ‘No-Go Zones’,” they said.

These no-go zones have been reflected in maps produced by MGB, and should be strictly implemented, it added.

ATM believes that responsible mining remains to be a myth, and it has no legal definition yet.

The proposed Alternative Minerals Resources Bill (AMMB) otherwise known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act (PMRA) pending in Congress is the group’s proposal to frame the legal and operational definition of responsible mining.

“We challenge both the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) and the DENR to seriously consider the AMMB as a starting point to discuss the concept of responsible mining,” it stressed.

“We assert that responsible mining cannot be reduced to ISO certification, as earlier proposed by DENR-MGB,” it added.

The group also expressed support to Lopez’s attempt to bring change to DENR.

“The mining-affected communities, their support groups, and even LGUs (local government units) are more than willing to submit reports, evidence, affidavits, petitions, testimonies, case studies and other relevant information to push forward with her change agenda within the DENR, in alignment with the instructions of President (Rodrigo) Duterte,” it said. Lilybeth Ison/ PNA/ northboundasia.com


MGB sets stricter mines audit rules

by James Konstantin Galvez

http://www.manilatimes.net/mgb-sets-stricter-mines-audit-rules/273558/

13 July 2016

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Regina Paz Lopez only wants to raise the bar on responsible mining with a new round of audit of all operating mines in the country, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said on Wednesday.

In a telephone interview, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said they would impose a stricter set of criteria in their audit, which will cover some 105 metallic and non-metallic mines nationwide, including quarrying and small-scale mining.

“The comprehensive review will focus on the companies’ compliance with the requirements of the Mining Act of 1995, Environmental Compliance Certificate, Forestry Law, and other laws pertaining to mining. We want to see whether a specific violation would entail suspension of operations,” Jasareno said.

Jasareno was reacting to a recent call from the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) to release the list of cancelled mining applications and companies violating mining laws.

“After six years of review, it is now incumbent upon the MGB to report the results to the new Secretary before another comprehensive review is undertaken,” COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said.

Since 2010, MGB has been undertaking an assessment of all mining permits and agreements under its “use it or lose it” policy in a bid to purge the system of non-moving mining applications.

Section 3 of EO 79 also calls for a review of the performance of existing mining operations and a continuation of the cleansing of non-moving mining rights holders.

The EO states, “The review shall be based on the guidelines and parameters set forth in the specific mining contract or agreement and on other pertinent laws, rules and regulations such as the Mining Act of 1995 and the Labor Code.”

Halcon said the moratorium on new mining permits jeopardizes investments in the mineral development sector and impedes on the otherwise positive investment environment created during a recent business forum in Davao City.

“A continuing moratorium on new mining projects only breeds more confusion and uncertainty particularly on capital-intensive and risky mining business,” she added.

Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez earlier issued DENR Memorandum Order 1-16 imposing a moratorium on the approval of new mining projects. She said she will not allow new mining activities under her watch even if they would pay higher taxes.

The order takes effect immediately and “shall remain in force and in effect until formally terminated.”

New round of audits

On Wednesday, Jasareno said that the new round of audits will look beyond regulatory requirements to include the social and economic impact of the mining operations nationwide.

The MGB chief, citing the results of their initial review on mining companies, confirmed that there are frequent violators of mining rules and regulations.

“You’ll be surprised with the number of companies violating the conditions of their contract… majority of which were slapped with equivalent amount of penalty depending on the discretion of who conducted the review,” Jasareno said.

“With the new round of audit, there will be a list of criteria they need to comply with, otherwise they may face suspension,” he said.

Jasareno, however, refused to name the companies included in the list of violators, saying that they have already submitted documents to the DENR secretary.

Meanwhile, anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) welcomed the immediate conduct of an audit of all mining project, a moratorium on mining applications, and Lopez’s personal position against open-pit mining.


DENR, mining groups call for legal definition of ‘responsible mining’

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

http://www.mb.com.ph/denr-mining-groups-call-for-legal-definition-of-responsible-mining/

14 July 2016

While caught in contradicting positions about the moratorium on new mining projects, both the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) were challenged by a group to put a legal definition on “responsible mining”.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said the coalition believes that responsible mining will remain to be “a myth” until the government would put legal definition into it.

Then he “challenged” both COMP and the DENR to push for the proposed Alternative Minerals Resources Bill (AMMB) as a starting point to discuss the concept of responsible mining.

The proposed AMMB, otherwise known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act (PMRA), is currently pending in Congress and was crafted to frame the legal and operational definition of responsible mining.

“We assert that responsible mining cannot be reduced to ISO certification, as earlier proposed by DENR-MGB [Mines and Geosciences Bureau],” Garganera said.

He was referring to the ISO 14001 certification that all companies are supposed to get in order to keep their mining permits.

The ISO 14001 standard requires every mining contractor the highest, most acceptable level of efficiency in terms of extracting minerals, while at the same time ensuring that the environment is not compromise.

Upon taking over the DENR chief position, Gina Lopez, who was known for strongly advocating against mining, somehow cooled down and said she’s no longer anti-mining but anti-suffering.

She even said firmly that if the companies are found not responsible — or if their operations are hurting the environment and affecting negatively the community surrounding their operations — they could lose their license to operate immediately.

Garganera also said that ATM supports the move of Lopez to immediately conduct an audit of all mining projects, keeping the moratorium on mining applications, and her personal position against open-pit mining.

“Our alliance also believes that Secretary Lopez made the correct call in stating publicly that we need a new mining law,” he further said.

However, he suggested Lopez to ensure that the audit is not limited to technical and operational matters of mining projects but would also look into social, economic, political, health and gender impacts of these mining projects to the host-communities.

“It is also critical that pending/live legal cases or complaints against the mining company and their operations are investigated as part of the audit,” he added.

Then concluded that the the mining-affected communities, their support groups, and even local government units are more than willing to submit reports, evidence, affidavits, petitions, testimonies, case studies and other relevant information to push forward with Lopez’ stance on mining.


ATM Statement on recent DENR positions on mining

13 July 2016

ATM welcomes the pronouncements of DENR Sec. Gina Lopez on mining issues.  Particularly, we support the moves to immediately conduct an audit of all mining project, a moratorium on mining applications, and her personal position against open-pit mining.  Our alliance also believes that Sec. Lopez made the correct call in stating publicly that we need a new mining law.

The mining audit and the moratorium on mining applications are provisions under Executive Order 79 of the Aquino administration, and so these administrative priorities are well past due.  We commend Sec. Lopez for fast-tracking these audit and putting in place the moratorium within the first 30 days of the Duterte administration. We recommend to Sec. Lopez to ensure that the audit is not limited to technical and operational matters of mining projects, but also look into social, economic, political, health and gender impacts of these mining projects to the host-communities.  It is also critical that pending/live legal cases or complaints against the mining company and their operations are investigated as part of the audit.

We categorically support the ban on open-pit mining policy, particularly in areas designated and identified by the DENR-MGB as “No-Go Zones”.  These no-go zones have been reflected in maps produced by MGB, and should be strictly implemented.

ATM believes that “responsible mining” remains to be a myth, and it has no legal definition yet.  The proposed Alternative Minerals Resrouces Bill (AMMB) otherwise known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act (PMRA) pending in Congress is our proposal to frame the legal and operational definition of responsible mining.

We challenge both the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) and the DENR under Sec. Lopez to seriously consider the AMMB as a starting point to discuss the concept of responsible mining.  We assert that “responsible mining” cannot be reduced to ISO certification, as earlier proposed by DENR-MGB.

Finally, we would like to extend our support to Sec. Lopez as she attempts to bring change to DENR.  The mining-affected communities, their support groups and even LGUs are more than willing to submit reports, evidences, affidavits, petitions, testimonies, case studies and other relevant information to push forward with her change agenda within the DENR, in alignment with the instructions of President Duterte.

On behalf of Alyansa Tigil Mina,

Jaybee Garganera
ATM National Coordinator
(0917) 549.82.18
nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net
twitter: @jaybeegarganera


Philippines' House Speaker wants Congress to license new miners

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-idUSKCN1050TH

25 July 2016

The Philippines' newly elected House Speaker said on Monday he wants new mining companies to get a legislative license before they are allowed to operate in the country as part of efforts to protect the environment.

Pantaleon Alvarez, a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, also said he will revive a proposed measure that will require miners to process their ores locally before they are shipped overseas to help create jobs domestically.

"Their activities would be subject to legislative oversight and their franchises can be revoked by the oversight body... if they violate the terms and conditions (of the franchise)," Alvarez said in a speech after he was elected speaker on Monday.

His pronouncement follows a nationwide crackdown on all miners operating in the Philippines led by the new mining minister, Regina Lopez, an anti-mining advocate. Since assuming office, the country has ordered the suspension of three nickel ore mines for environmental violations and ordered a moratorium on new mines while existing projects are reviewed.

Duterte, who began a six-year term on June 30, has warned he could cancel mining projects causing environmental harm, suggesting a tough regulatory road ahead for Philippine miners.

Ronaldo Recidoro, the spokesman of the industry group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said Alvarez' plan would be a bigger disincentive to smaller miners than large-scale ones.

He said there was no need for additional environmental safeguards because the existing mining law is adequate.

"More than adding steps, they should increase the budget of the (regulator) or create a department that separates environment from natural resources," Recidoro said.

The country's mining sector, one of the world's largest in the 1970s, has since struggled partly due to environmental rules and policy flip flops, missing much of the mining boom in recent decades and now is dealing with much lower commodity prices.

(Reporting by Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


Drilon wants equitable revenue sharing between gov’t, mine sector

Maila Ager

Inquirer

18 July 2016

Senate President Franklin Drilon is pushing for the passage of a measure that would provide for a more equitable revenue sharing between the government and mining industry.

Senate Bill No. 225 or the Philippine Fiscal Regime and Revenue Sharing Arrangement for Large-scale Metallic Mining Act, which Drilon filed, states that the government should get a fair and equitable share of the revenues and economic benefits derived from mining resources.

“Any economic rent arising from such exploration, extraction and utilization belongs to the State,” the bill said.

Under the bill, the government would get either 10 percent of gross revenue or 55 percent of adjusted net mining revenue (ANMR), whichever is higher.

Drilon said the total government share, as proposed in the bill, will be divided between the national government and local government units (LGUs) at a 60-40 percent sharing scheme, respectively.

If the contract area is in an ancestral domain, however, the royalties for the indigenous cultural communities should be taken from the government share, it further said.

Drilon said a salient feature of the bill provides for speedier remittances of the LGU shares of 10 days from the end of each quarter “in order to help the local communities immediately access their shares from mining activities in their locales.”

“In the event that the ANMR Margin exceeds 50 percent due to increase in metal prices or other factors, the government, as owner of the mineral, shall get 55 percent of the threshold ANMR plus 60 percent on the excess ANMR,” the bill said.

The payment of government share, Drilon said, should be in lieu of all national and local taxes including corporate tax, royalty for the indigenous cultural communities, duties or imported specialized capital mining equipment, fees for mayor’s and/or business permits and other fees and charges being imposed by the host LGUs pursuant to the Local Government Code.

The bill covers all mining agreements (MAs) or Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) entered upon the effectivity of the act. It will also govern the renewal and renegotiation of existing MAs or FTAAs.

“If passed into law, the bill would introduce a new fiscal regime and revenue sharing arrangement between the government and mining contractors for large-scale metallic mineral mining operations,” the Senate leader added. RAM/rga


Kalikasan to Duterte: industrialization is possible without new coal power projects

On the Paris Climate Agreement

Kalikasan PNE Press Statement

19 July 2016

While we welcome President Rodrigo Duterte’s demand for greater responsibility from top polluter countries to cut their carbon emissions, we believe our country’s aspirations for national industrialization can do with the general prescription of the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce our fossil fuel consumption.

Pres. Duterte correctly points out that the Paris Agreement has failed to impose much-needed deep and drastic carbon emission cuts on advanced capitalist nations such as the United States, European Union, Japan, and China, which are the biggest contributors to global warming-inducing carbon emissions.

Such leniency by the Paris Agreement for polluter countries is unjustly non-commensurate to its impositions on low-carbon but climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines. That our economy remains backward and pre-industrial is precisely the reason why we are unable to cope with the worsening impacts of climate change.

In our pursuit of national industrialization, we hope Pres. Duterte notes that the further aggressive expansionism of coal-fired power plants, among the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the country, will actually be counter-productive. Coal power pollution will inflict massive environmental and health costs upon its surrounding communities.

Establishment of coal power plants will not only result to increasing pollution and health hazards but perpetuate our dependency on imported dirty fossil fuel and technology. Our renewable and indigenous energy resources such as hydro, geothermal, solar and natural gas are more than enough to provide our energy needs now and in the future.

The rise of cheap coal power, which has increased in terms of installed generation capacity by 348 percent from 1997 to 2012, has resulted into an 88 percent increase in electricity rates in the same period. It is the privatization of our energy industry and its control over pricing that result in expensive electricity that is prohibitive to industrialization, not the choice of energy source.

We challenge the Duterte administration to assert the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the upcoming COP 22 climate talks—to uphold our nation’s right to develop and demand greater emission cuts from the top polluters. A critical step that Duterte must pursue towards a pro-people, pro-environment energy policy is the reversal of
energy privatization, encapsuled in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. Lastly, our assertion will be on stronger ground if Duterte can demonstrate leadership by example through a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. #

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment – 0905 432 5211

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


It Just Got Harder to Build Coal Plants in The Philippines

by Cecilia Yap, Andreo Calonzo, Dan Murtaugh

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-10/it-just-got-harder-to-build-coal-power-plants-in-the-philippines

11 July 2016

The Philippines’ new environment secretary will prioritize renewable energy over fossil fuels like coal in approving permits for new power plants.

Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy should build wind, solar and geothermal projects to capitalize on falling costs and minimize emissions, Gina Lopez, named Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources by President Rodrigo Duterte last month, said in an interview in her office Thursday. Lopez said her family’s ties to renewable energy companies don’t affect her views.

Lopez, 62, whose office gives environmental approval for new power plants in the Philippines as it nearly doubles electricity generation by 2030, stopped short of promising to never approve a new coal-fired plant. She said she would make decisions in consultation with the Department of Energy, which has said the Philippines will have to continue to rely on coal.

“Why allow more coal plants? Why commit to a form of energy that has no future?” Lopez said in an interview with Bloomberg Thursday. “I’m not keen on it. I’d have to be very convinced.”

Thermal coal at Australia’s port of Newcastle, a benchmark in Asia, rose 6.4 percent the week ended Friday to $60.11 a metric ton, according to globalCOAL. Prices have fallen 50 percent in the past five years.

Periodic Outages

Energy Department officials did not immediately respond to e-mails and phone calls for comment. New Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said at a July 4 press briefing the country couldn’t afford to not use coal as it seeks to reduce electricity costs while finding a balance between adequate supply and protecting the environment.

“We have to find that balance, not everything can be renewable,” he said.

Coal accounted for 45 percent of the nation’s electricity output in 2015, with natural gas at 23 percent, according to Energy Department statistics. Geothermal, hydro and other renewable sources accounted for about a quarter.

Plummeting costs for solar generation mean that if the Philippines commits to new coal plants now, it could be stuck paying higher prices for higher-emission power for the next two decades, Lopez said. The cost of photovoltaic modules, the largest part of solar costs, has fallen from $72 per watt in 1976 to 60 cents last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Costs will fall another 60 percent by 2040, BNEF said in its New Energy Outlook last month.

Lopez’s family own First Gen Corp. and Energy Development Corp., which both operate geothermal power generation in the Philippines. Lopez said her family’s investments have no bearing on her decisions.

“I’m not going renewable because of them. I’m going renewable because it’s for the Filipino people,” she said. “And if they benefit, well, other people can also benefit. My thing to the businessmen, go renewable so you can also benefit.”


Murder of Filipina activist symptom of attempt to quash rising tide of anti-coal activism

by Bob Burton

http://endcoal.org/2016/07/murder-of-filipina-activist-symptom-of-attempt-to-quash-rising-tide-of-anti-coal-activism/

13 July 2016

Gloria Capitan’s house sat nestled in the small town of Lucanin just over a hundred or so metres away from the uncovered stockpiles of coal and other materials at the small-scale port owned by Limay Bulk and Terminal Handling Corporation.

From the bowels of the barges great cranes disgorge coal onto the dock to be pushed into great mounds by earthmovers and stored until trucks come to cart them away.

Capitan was one of the few thousand residents of Lucanin. As President of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamaya ng Lucanin” (SNML – United Citizenry of Lucanin), Capitan campaigned against the air and water pollution associated with the operation of the port. SNML is one of many groups in Coal-Free Bataan Movement, a broad-based alliance campaigning against the operation of coal stockpile and expansion of coal plants in the province and promoting renewable energy.

Capitan and her group took up a petition to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and to the Local government units of Mariveles advocating the open coal storage and stockpile be closed. Residents of Lucanin complained of dust plumes from the port polluting the air, and leading to skin allergies, upper respiratory infections and destruction of the coastlines and seabed. (A dust plume is visible in this photo of the port’s operation.)

Capitan’s group had also filed a case with the Ombudsman against the local government regarding the port issue. The case is still active.

Derek Cabe, the Coordinator of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement described Capitan as “a warm and kind-hearted woman to every colleague in the anti-coal movement. Her positive character and perseverance has brought hope in the struggle of the people of Bataan against the huge enemy that is coal.”

Capitan was also involved in the campaign against the operation of the existing 600 megawatt GN Power Mariveles Power Project about 10 kilometres to the south-west of Lucanin. The plant – which is owned by a consortium comprising the US-headquartered Sithe Global and the Philippines companies Ayala Corporation and GNPower – is pushing ahead with a proposed 1200 MW expansion.

In Bataan province there are already two other coal plants in operation, one of which is adding a further 300 MW unit and another proposed 600 MW plant. There are also two other uncovered coal storage sites in the town of Mariveles.

On its website Sithe Global approvingly states the Luzon power market is “one of the most attractive in Asia” with an “investor-friendly” regulatory environment and the “ongoing privatization of state-owned portfolio of generation and transmission assets.”

Over the last year Capitan’s advocacy led at first, according to Cabe, to attempted bribes and when these were rejected there were more menacing threats.

On July 1 two unidentified men shot and killed Capitan in her home before escaping on a motorbike.

The Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Gina Lopez, condemned the murder of Mariveles Capitan and called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to “leave no stone unturned” in the hunt for the two killers. The investigation, she said, “should lead to the arrest of the mastermind” as well as the two men who killed Capitan.

Following her burial last Sunday a protest march of 500 supporters called for justice for Capitan’s family.

To date police have made no arrests so the exact motivation remains unknown. However, family and friends are adamant the easy-going Capitan had no known enemies and point to her activism on pollution from the stockpile at the port and involvement in the anti-coal movement as the most likely explanation.

The big picture

In late June, to the alarm of the mining industry and coal-power producers, the newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte announced the appointment of outspoken anti-coal and environmental activist Gina Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). DENR has a central role in the regulation of existing and proposed coal plants.

Lopez’s appointment followed the Climate Change Commission (CCC), a government agency, unveiling a six-month review of the government’s energy policy with a view to “reshape the country’s power development plans and replace coal with renewable sources of energy.”

With over 7000 megawatts (MW) of coal plants announced or permitted and another 4000 MW-plus under construction, the combination of the CCC review and Lopez’s appointment suggested a dramatic change in Philippines energy policy may be in the offing.

The mining industry and the supporters of coal power were in a panic. “Crash in Ph Mining stocks this morning. There go the coal plants too. Can’t look,” Tweeted Manny V. Pangilinan, the CEO of the pro-coal utility Meralco on hearing of Lopez’s appointment.

In a recent interview Lopez pulled no punches. “Why allow more coal plants? Why commit to a form of energy that has no future? I’m not keen on it. I’d have to be very convinced,” she said.

For most people, a gentle 57-year self-employed grandmother posed no threat. Yet she was deliberately gunned down and the only plausible explanation is her opposition to coal.

The Coal-Free Bataan Movement and human rights groups have called on President Duterte and other authorities to ensure a thorough investigation of Capitan’s murder and ensure the protection of other SNML members and all human rights defenders in the Philippines.

Bob Burton is the Hobart-based Editor of CoalWire, a weekly bulletin on global coal industry developments. (You can sign up for it here.) His Twitter feed is here.

The Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement (NFBM), the secretariat for Coal-Free Bataan Movement, has launched an appeal to support Capitan’s family.


More Philippines nickel exports to be halted

Staff reporter

http://www.mining-journal.com/world/asia/more-philippines-nickel-exports-to-be-halted/

21 July 2016

The Philippines environment secretary, Regina Lopez has told reporters she wants Nickel Asia Corp’s Hinatuan subsidiary to stop transporting ore from Manicani Island in yet another clamp down by government on the industry.

Nickel Asia claims to be the country’s largest producer of lateritic nickel ore.

The company later put out a statement indicating that it had not received an official order from the secretary.

While no mining currently takes place, the company does have permission to transport stockpiles that were accumulated in the past on Manicani Island.

“There is therefore no operation to suspend and the only activity that may be halted is the disposal and removal of the stockpiles,” said Nickel Asia, indicating that in the first half of the year 100,000t (wet) had been exported from Manicani island.

This compares to the 8.5Mt (wet) shipped out in total by Nickel Asia subsidiaries in the same period, according to the company.

The country’s new president, Rodrigo Duterte, has pledged to shut down any mining operations that don’t adhere to stringent new environmental laws.

Already, Berong Mining Corp and Benguet Coro have been forced to close their operations, which make up 7% of the country’s nickel production, according to a research note from ANZ Bank.

Since Indonesia banned the export of unprocessed ore a few years ago, the Philippines has become the world’s largest producer of nickel ore, increasing production by 170% over the past five years to 475,000t in 2015, says ANZ. The country is said to be the source of 23% of world nickel, feeding a commodity-hungry China.

“This latest threat to nickel mine supply comes just as the market moves into a sizeable deficit,” said the ANZ research.

The price is up about a fifth over the past month and is currently trading at just over US$10,500/t, around its highest levels in 10 months.

“While the likelihood of the Philippine nickel industry being completely shut down is low, the amount and importance of supply source at risk warrants a substantial premium. As such, we expect nickel prices to push towards $12,000/t,” said ANZ Bank.


Philippines says it suspends a nickel miner in Palawan

http://www.reuters.com/article/philippines-mining-nickel-idUSL4N1A302D

17 July 2016

The Philippines has suspended a third nickel mine in less than two weeks and again warned miners not to violate environmental laws, the cabinet secretary overseeing mining told a radio station.

Regina Lopez, secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told the Manila station DZMM on Saturday a suspension order was slapped on Friday on Berong Nickel Corp's mine on Palawan because of a spill that affected corals.

Palawan, in the southwest Philippines, has become popular with tourists in recent years.

Lopez said while the spill was not intentional, company authorities "really need to get their act together".

She described Palawan as "the number one (tourist) island destination in the entire planet".

A top official of unlisted Berong's stakeholder DMCI Holdings Inc said on Sunday he was not aware of the suspension order and the spill incident.

"Sorry, I am not aware. Will check tomorrow," Isidro Consunji, chairman and CEO of DMCI, said in a text message to Reuters.

DMCI owns Toledo Mining Corp, which has management control over the Berong project. Berong Nickel, which last year produced 868,000 tonnes of nickel ore, is a joint venture of Toledo Mining and another Philippines-listed firm, Atlas Consolidated and Mining Development Corp.

The Palawan nickel mine is the biggest of five slapped with suspension orders in the past two years, including two early this month.

The crackdown on miners by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has sparked some concerns about ore supply to China, the world's biggest nickel consumer. At present, the Philippines is the top supplier of nickel ore to China.

A one-month audit of all Philippine mines starting July 8 is under way and Lopez, a staunch environmentalist, said she was unhappy with the initial reports.

"If they (miners) are not doing well and they are not following the law, we will withdraw the ECC (environmental clearance certificates)," she said on radio. (bit.ly/29GsGrc) (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Richard Borsuk)


Scant short term impact seen on nickel from Philippine mine crackdown

By Manolo Serapio Jr and Eric Onstad

Reuters

13 July 2016

MANILA/LONDON - An environmental crackdown on Philippine mines, which helped drive nickel prices to eight-month highs, is likely to have only a muted impact on exports to China in the short term because the biggest mines have met guidelines, experts said.

The Philippines is the biggest exporter to top metals consumer China of nickel ore, used to make stainless steel.

A smattering of smaller mines are likely to be affected in coming months and new mines will probably face tough going in the future, but the review of the mining sector is not likely to result in a quick drop in shipments.

"The Chinese think the Philippines will continue exporting ore to China and only some small mines will be affected. They're not worried about the situation at the moment," said Peter Peng, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.

The biggest Philippine producer, Nickel Asia Corp, which has already complied with international mining standards, accounted for close to 40 percent of Philippine nickel ore production last year, according to analyst David Wilson at Citi in London.

Three other major miners also say they have approvals, while small scale miners only accounted for about 11 percent of ore produced last year, he added.

"We therefore suspect that the impact of environmental license suspension may be more limited than initially feared, and believe the recent rally will run out of steam," Wilson said in a note.

Of the 40 operating mines, 21 have obtained their ISO 14001 certification, Ronald Recidoro of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines told Reuters.

Popular anger

Benchmark nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange have rallied a fifth to eight-month highs since June 4 when incoming President Rodrigo Duterte warned mining companies to "shape up".

What remains unknown is how tough the mining minister, Regina Lopez, a committed environmentalist, will be in enforcing environmental and social responsibility rules. Days after she assumed office on June 30, a review of all mines was launched and two small mines were suspended.

Analyst Jim Lennon, a consultant for Macquarie, said politicians in the Philippines were responding to public anger at damaging practices in the small-scale mining sector.

"Small miners are stripping away the overgrowth and the forestry and mining down 5-10 metres (yards), but don't bother replacing the overburden and replanting," Lennon said.

Philippine nickel ore exports to China were already down this year before the crackdown, due to low prices and as some mines ran out of ore.

"Exports are down 25 percent in the first half anyway, because of the price and reserve exhaustion, so if any of the mines were to be shut down, there's still plenty of capacity," Lennon said.

"So my feeling is that there will be more of an impact on new mines because I think there will be a much more extended environmental approval process."

The Philippine government has halted permits to develop new mines since 2012 while it works out ways to get more revenue from the sector, but such efforts in Congress have stalled. (Reporting by Eric Onstad and Manolo Serapio Jr; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)


For being a repeated offender, permanent closure of all DMCI mining interests sought

Kalikasan PNE press release

26 July 2016

MAKATI CITY—Together with 200 protesters hailing from the provinces of Zambales and Sultan Kudarat, environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) picketed the central office of DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) to demand the permanent closure of its mining projects in the two provinces.

“DMCI is a repeated offender of environmental and human rights laws and regulations and deserved more than the suspension that Environment Secretary Gina Lopez slapped on its Acoje mine in Zambales. Such a grossly irresponsible track record warrants all its mining applications, exploration sites, mine developments, and commercial operations to be permanently closed,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Last July 8, DENR Sec. Lopez suspended the licenses of DMCI subsidiary Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. and BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc. after confirming several violations such as the pollution of farmlands and water and marine ecosystems, among others.

A week prior to the suspension, local communities and groups decried the alarming spike in the continuing violation of people’s rights, including harassments of community members and the open-firing of the mine’s heavily armed guards upon barricading residents.

“Down south in Mindanao, the indigenous Dulangan Manobo of Sultan Kudarat experience a larger scale of human rights violations at the hands of DMCI’s plantation, logging and mining exploration interests. This includes the displacement of the Dulangan Manobo from their ancestral domains and the enforced disappearance of John Calaba, the public information officer of their indigenous people’s organization KIDUMA,” said Dulce.

Calaba, who Dulce said was last seen by his colleagues during the local Earth Day activities in 2015, was suspectedly taken by paramilitary troops employed by DMCI days after last April 30, 2015, and at present has still not been surfaced by his captors.

“DMCI should not only be permanently closed, but should be compelled by the DENR to provide just reparations to all aggravated communities affected by its environmental destruction and militarization. DMCI should be prevented from ever getting into the business of mining as it has demonstrated its inability to uphold the strictest standards and regulations and to respect human rights,” Dulce asserted.

“The reason we get repeated offenders like DMCI is because we have lenient regulations that make it easy for companies to return to business as usual without effectively addressing its atrocities to the people and the environment. We will further strengthen the people’s movements opposing DMCI’s destructive projects and enjoin DENR to cooperate in ensuring the respect of people’s rights and the environment by dismantling the big business firm’s mining infrastructure,” ended Dulce.#

Reference: Leon Dulce – 0917 562 6824

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Residents of Zambales and Lumads from Sultan Kudarat Demand the Closure of DMCI

Center for Environmental Concerns News Release

29 July 2016

MAKATI CITY --- Five hundred (500) residents of mining-affected communities in Zambales and Sultan Kudarat trooped to the office of DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) following the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte, to protest alleged environmental and human rights violations of the company. They demanded among others, the  the stoppage of the mining operations of the company. The protest was held in front of the DMCI main office in Makati on July 26, 2016 and was joined by peasants and indigenous people from Movement for the Protection of the Environment (Move Now), Diocese of Iba Advocacy Desk (DIAD) and Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Kalikasan (SKPK) from Zambales and Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad pa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao (Kaluhhamin), a Lumad organization from mining-affected communities in Sultan Kudarat.

“As if the environmental problems brought by ZDMC were not enough, this plundering mining company shot at us, threatening our lives even if we were justly standing up for our rights,” said Cristeta Sison from Move Now. Ms Sison was referring to the incident on July 5, 2016, when armed security guards of ZDMC shot at the residents in the barricade.

The residents from Sitio Acoje, Barangay Lucapon South have formed a barricade on May 14, 2016 to stop the operations of Zambales Diversified Minerals Corporation (ZDMC), a subsidiary of DMCI, in their barangay. This was the third time since 2015 that residents from different communities formed a barricade against large scale corporate mining operating in the province. The others were in  in Barangay Uacon in Candelaria and in Barangay Bayto in Sta. Cruz.

The mining operations worsened  the effects of natural hazards like that of  Typhoon Lando when it hit in October 2015. The impacts brought health problems to the community and destroyed their livelihood because of the contamination in the farmlands, rivers and even the sea. On top of this, the mining operations have reached watershed areas, threatening the source of water of  neighboring barangays , for domestic and agricultural purposes.

KALUHHAMIN said that they have also experienced effects of mining and human rights violations from DMCI in Sultan Kudarat and said that DMCI was one of the most destructive mining companies that are plaguing Mindanao. They expressed their solidarity with all indigenous peoples and communities in the country that are victims of the injustices of these large scale corporate mining companies.

Aside from the closure of DMCI, the peasants and indigenous people were also demanding for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order (EO) 79. “We are one with the communities affected by the mining operations. Anti-people mining was further institutionalized by the Mining Act of 1995 and EO 79 and provided mining companies with military and police support through the Investment Defense Force (IDF),” said Meggie Nolasco, the Zambales field office coordinator of the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC). Their organization has been implementing livelihood and disaster risk reduction management projects in the province.

“We welcome the suspension of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez of the mining companies in the province including Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. and Eramen Minerals Inc. which are the bane in the people’s lives. We are in solidarity with the fight against mining. We are calling on the DENR and on President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill their mandate of bringing social justice by suspending and closing all mining operations until a program for national industrialization has been laid down and compelling them to give just reparation to affected communities. And most of all, we vow to continue to stand for the protection of the environment and against plunderers and human rights violators,” added Sison.

Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines
26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
+632 920 9099 | info[at]cecphils.org  | www.cecphils.org


‘Politics’ forcing DMCI to stop nickel mine activities

By Doris Dumlao-Abadilla, Philippine Daily Inquirer

http://business.inquirer.net/212561/politics-forcing-dmci-to-stop-nickel-mine-activities

28 July 2016

The Consunji group may pull the plug on the nickel mining operations of DMCI Mining Corp. if regulatory kinks won’t be resolved soon.

DMCI Mining has interests in mining projects in Berong, Palawan under Berong Nickel Corp. and Zambales through Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC).

The two mining projects, which both use the open pit technique to extract nickel, chromite and iron laterite for direct shipping to China and Japan, have had problems with environment and mining regulators and host local government units.

The operations of both the Palawan and Zambales mines were recently suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for allegedly breaching environmental standards.

The firm also said local governments were interfering too much in activities under the DENR’s jurisdiction.

“It has become too politicized,” DMCI Holdings president Isidro Consunji told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s annual stockholders meeting Wednesday. “The smoke has to clear. If it’s not cleared, then we’ll stop operations. We can’t afford a stop-and-go operation. I don’t think any mining company can afford that, so we have to clear that as soon as possible.”

Policy uncertainties have been costly not just for DMCI Mining but for other mining firms especially in an environment where commodity prices are on a downturn.

“I think a lot of the mining companies are barely surviving. And I think the prices of oil will be low in the next five years and that nickel, copper, gold, coal prices will (also) be low,” Consunji said.


DENR: Hinatuan nickel mine closure voluntary

By Amy R. Remo

Inquirer Business

25 July 2016

The move to halt the mining operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp., a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp., (NAC) was “voluntary” and not due to any suspension order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Secretary Regina Lopez said.

“We wish to clarify that the DENR has not issued any order suspending the mining operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp in Manicani Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The Mines Bureau, however, sent a letter directing the company to explain within seven days the adverse observations made by a composite inspection team of the DENR,” Lopez said in a statement issued Friday.

She said Hinatuan agreed it would just complete the ongoing loading of 50,000 tons of stockpiles, which was already granted through a permit issued by the previous administration.

“Thereafter, Hinatuan has voluntarily committed to the DENR that it will suspend all loading activities in the island until such time that it has fully explained in writing the adverse observations of [Mines and Geosciences Bureau], and the completion of the audit being conducted by the DENR on the company’s mining concession,” Lopez said.

Last July 8, Lopez issued an order imposing a moratorium on new projects and an audit on existing mine sites.

“The audit shall cover all operating mines under suspended and/or care and maintenance status while the moratorium shall cover the acceptance, processing, and/or approval of mining applications and/or new mining projects for all metallic and nonmetallic minerals,” Lopez’s first memorandum order read.

The order was seen to dampen appetite for new investments and breed more confusion and uncertainty in the capital-intensive and risky mining business, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) earlier said.

As of end June this year, Nickel Asia Corp. saw a 31-percent decline in its sales of nickel ore shipments to an estimated P5.15 billion due mainly to the continuing weakness in the price of the commodity in the global market.


Suspension, not Expansion: Green groups support Nueva Vizcaya indigenous people’s protest vs OceanaGold expansion plans

Kalikasan PNE press release

20 July 2016

The environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the environment expressed support for a picket protest held by indigenous residents and landowners of Didipio village in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya at a public presentation regarding the proposed amendments to the environmental compliance certificate of Australian-Canadian mining firm OceanaGold, which aims to pave the way for its expansion.

“We join our brothers and sisters from Nueva Vizcaya in opposing the attempt of OceanaGold to expand their large-scale mining operations. There is no logic in allowing a repeated mining polluter to increase the scale of its extraction when its scientifically confirmed impacts of massive water pollution have never been sufficiently addressed. Moreso, if it has consistently violated the rights of its host indigenous communities as OceanaGold has. OceanGold should be suspended, not allowed to expand,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The local protesters, composed of members of local people’s organizations Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa (SAPAKKMMI) and the Didipio Earth Savers Movement (DESAMA), aired their rejection of the proposal to increase the mining corporation’s mill process throughput rate from 3.5 to 4.3 million tons per annum.

In a 2014 environmental investigative mission led by Kalikasan PNE and the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) on the impacts of OceanaGold on river tributaries that run through its operations, it was confirmed that the copper contamination levels in the tested waters exceeded safe levels for irrigation use and river organisms by two-fold and eight-fold, respectively.

A two-year investigation by the Commission on Human Rights also found OceanaGold guilty of violating the rights of Didipio residents in demolishing their homes and violently dispersing them during a protest action in 2008. Extrajudicial killings also occurred in 2012, where DESAMA member Cheryl Ananayo and her cousin-in-law Randy Nabayay were killed by unidentified assailants.

“OceanaGold had a knee-jerk reaction of denial to the investigative mission, followed by the sudden so-called establishment of a water treatment facility a month after. In a 2015 international solidarity mission that we helped facilitate in Didipio, however, we observed no qualitative difference in the murky-brown state of the polluted rivers. Meanwhile, OceanaGold has done nothing to redress the communities who have been subjected by the violence, pollution, and economic displacement the company has wrought upon Didipio,” noted Dulce.

Despite the continuing incidence of pollution, the mining firm has received a series of awards supposedly for its good practices in environmental safety and responsible mining, including the 2015 Presidential Mining Industry Environmental Award and the top pollution control award during the 36th National Annual Convention of the Pollution Control Association of the Philippines in May 2016.

“Polluters awarding their fellow polluters with environmental awards is a farce that the people will not buy. OceanaGold must be immediately suspended, denied its proposal for expansion, and subjected to an independent investigation until its environmental crimes are sufficiently penalized and its operations ultimately closed. We challenge the new leadership in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under Sec. Gina Lopez to prioritize the suspension and full-blown audit of OceanaGold,” ended Dulce.

Environment Sec. Gina Lopez has earlier promised to conduct a full audit of all large-scale mining operations in the country. Up to the present, at least five large-scale mines have already been initially suspended.

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Lopez vows cancellation of OceanaGold permit in Nueva Vizcaya

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez says the cancellation of the extension of the exploration permit of the Australian mining firm will end the 'sufferings' of the communities in Nueva Vizcaya

Raymon Dullana

http://www.rappler.com/nation/140737-gina-lopez-cancel-oceanagold-permit-nueva-vizcaya

24 July 2016

ISABELA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez promised to cancel the permit given to Australian mining firm OceanaGold Philippines Inc. to extend its explorations in a remote town in Nueva Vizcaya province.

In a phone interview, Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla quoted Lopez saying she would ask Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno to act on the cancellation the extension of the exploration permit of the OceanaGold to stop the "suffering" of the communities in Didipio village in Kasibu town.

"That was her statement to us when we had a dialogue last Wednesday, July 20, in Makati, but she said... they had to go to a short process, which I think is what she is doing," Padilla told Rappler on Sunday, July 24, saying Lopez told him that the cancellation of the permit is already a "done deal."

The MGB, in March, granted OceanaGold a 5-year extension to the exploration period of its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in the Philippines.

'Warm-bodies barricade'

Community members and various groups had been barricading the entry of the equipment for explorations of the OceanaGold in Didipio town for over a month now.

Padilla said the barricade succeeded and even forced OceanaGold to pull out some equipment that were already in placed in the exploration site.

But he said he "would not let the communities to barricade forever" so they asked Lopez to cancel the extension of the exploration permit, so the people could "peacefully" go home to their houses.

"The people couldn't leave the barricade because of the fear that the mining company might enter any time," Padilla said.

For Lopez, who is a known anti-mining advocate, there should have been no permit issued since there was no public consultation.

"I promise I will not let you suffer anymore," Lopez was quoted telling various community leaders, environmental groups and officials of the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya during their meeting.

To formalize their dialogue, Lopez asked Padilla to write a letter asking for the cancellation of the firm's exploration permit.

'Anti-mining community'

Townspeople have long been opposing the mining in the area and even complained of human rights abuses of the mining firm.

Padilla said the agencies concerned had been "insensitive" about the complaints of the communities affected by the firm's operations.

In his letter to Lopez, Padilla said the communities "oppose mining because it would disrupt they way of life; destroy their environment and source of income; and it will provide suffering, social divisiveness."

In 2015, several international human rights groups conducted a solidarity investigation mission on the reported abuses.

“The local people, and with environmental campaigners and scientific technicians, told me their story in their words, of coercion, corruption, abuse, destruction, injustice and robbery of the mining firm,” Sean Hawkey, one of the evaluators, said.

'Absolute NO to mining'

Padilla said he already filed a bill to declare Nueva Vizcaya as "No Mining Zone" when he was congressman.

The bill was approved at the House of the Representatives but was stuck in the Senate when Senator Loren Legarda, who was chair of the Committee on Environment, swapped chairmanship with Senator Francis Escudero, who was the chairman of the Committee of Finance.

He said that Nueva Vizcaya should be protected since it is a major tributary of the major dams in Luzon, including the Ambuklao, Magat, San Roque, Pantabangan, Casecnan, and Binga dams.

Explaining why he is "absolute [saying] no to mining," Padilla said that there are loopholes in the term "responsible mining."

"The infrastructure for responsible mining is not yet in place. If I were to interpret, the rules, the regulations and the laws in place in the moment is not yet enough to ensure responsible mining," he said. – Rappler.com


Suspension of Aussie mining firm’s operation sought

By Manny Galvez

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/suspension-aussie-mining-firm-operation-000000377.html

1 August 2016

SAN JOSE CITY – The provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya has sought the suspension of the operation of an Australian mining company for allegedly being destructive to the environment.

Gov. Carlos Padilla called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to withdraw the exploration permit and suspend the operation of the Oceana Gold Corp. Philippines Inc. (OGPI) in Barangay Dipidio, Kasibu town.

The mining firm’s operation has reportedly put at risk some 300,000 hectares of agricultural lands irrigated by six dams in North Luzon.

In a letter to DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, Padilla cited several reasons why the provincial government is opposing OGPI’s operation.

He said the province is a critical watershed of major dams such as Ambuklao, Binga, Casecnan, Magat, Pantabangan and San Roque, which irrigate at least 286,920 hectares of agricultural lands in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon.

Padilla said OGPI’s operation affects these dams and the province’s vision to become a watershed haven and its promotion as an agro-forestry area and eco-tourism site.

In a dialogue last July 20, Padilla said Lopez assured him, the anti-mining advocates and leaders of indigenous groups in Dipidio that if OGPI’s supposed violations are proven, she would recommend to President Duterte to terminate the firm’s operations.

He said a majority of Vizcayanos is against mining because it disrupts their way of life and destroys their environment and their source of livelihood.

He said the province has a brighter future in agriculture than in mining.


Kalibutan: A global front against OceanaGold is growing

http://bulatlat.com/main/2016/07/21/kalibutan-a-global-front-against-oceanagold-is-growing/

By CLEMENTE BAUTISTA, Kalikasan PNE

21 July 2016

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment is at the forefront of the environmental movement in the Philippines. Among its major campaigns is the struggle against large-scale and foreign mining. In the course of the struggles of our member organizations and grassroots communities, Kalikasan has won many battles against corporate mining.

In June 2015, Anglo-Swiss mining firm Glencore, the fourth biggest mining company in the world, was driven out of the Philippines by the widespread and strong opposition movement down at the local up to the international community. It suffered the same fate as the Australian junior mining company Lafayette which went bankrupt in 2008 after failing to resume operations due to stiff resistance from the host community and environmental groups.

Kalikasan played a crucial role in both campaigns through rallying national and international solidarity support to gain global exposure and bring the fight to the countries where the mining corporations are based.

We now gear for another struggle against an emerging corporate mining plunderer – OceanaGold.

Established as a junior mining company in 1989, OceanaGold is a multinational gold producer with multimillion-dollar mining stakes in Australia, El Salvador, New Zealand, Philippines and the United States. It has one operating mine in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya in Philippines and two in New Zealand, with another project in South Carolina, US underway. As of the first quarter of 2016, it has a total net equity of more than $1.1 billion.

The mounting people’s struggle against Oceanagold has already gained small victories such as the temporary stoppage of expansion efforts in Dipidio. As the state of the environment under mining worsens, the people’s movement against large-scale and foreign mining will intensify.

Plunder and Violations in the Philippines

In 2006, a merger between Oceanagold and ClimaxArimco Mining Corporation (CAMC) enabled OceanaGold to acquire the mining agreement in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya. The Philippine government awarded the agreement to CAMC in 1994.

But because of the strong resistance of the local communities alongside a vigorous national anti-mining campaign, OceanaGold was forced to delay the project for almost two decades. OceanaGold started its commercial operation in its Didipio Gold mine in 2013.

Several anti-mining activists and indigenous people leaders have been killed in the course of the struggle in Nueva Vizcaya. Hundreds of individuals have been displaced by demolition and other socio-economic impacts their communities. In a recent study, Filipino scientist group AGHAM confirmed the alarming rate of environmental degradation and pollution in the area.

OceanaGold’s operations in other countries

OceanaGold’s track record is consistent in its operations in other countries. In 1989, the OceanaGold bought the Macraes Mining Company tenements in New Zealand from BHP Gold Mines and Golden Point Mining. Since then, it has operated the Macraes open pit (1990) and the Frasers underground mine (2008) in Otago region, South Island of New Zealand. It is currently New Zealand’s largest gold producing operation. In its two decades of operation in Macraes mine alone, OceanaGold was able to extract 3 million ounces of gold.

In November 2013, OceanaGold acquired the El Dorado mining in El Salvador from Canadian-owned Pacific Rim Mining Corp. The El Dorado mining covers 14,407 hectares with high content of gold and silver deposits.

The El Salvadorian government imposed a mining moratorium nationwide forbidding OceanaGold to mine in the area because of the severe water crisis caused by mining in the country.

As a response, OceanGold/Pacific Rim sued the El Salvadorian government in 2009 for US$301 million in the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) at the World Bank. The El Salvadorian government has expended $12 million in legal cost only.

International unity and support

In August 2015, the International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM) resolved to conduct a coordinated campaign against OceanaGold. A campaign core group was created comprising of the following organizations: Kalikasan PNE, Amianan Salakniban, and the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK) of the Philippines, Pacific Resource Asia Center of Japan, Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP), ANCoMP (Australian National Campaign on Mining in the Philippines), Migrante of Australia, and Radio Victoria and Asociation de Desarrollo Economica Social Santa Marta of El Salvador.

Several protest actions has since been conducted across the globe. In the recent OceanaGold General Assembly in Toronto Canada last June 9, Canadian solidarity groups denounced the environmental and human rights violations of the company in the Philippines and El Salvador.

Last June 21, 2016, Mines and Communities protested in front of the venue of mining confab in London where an OceanaGold official was one of the main speakers. In Australia, workers’ unions, migrant groups, and environmental groups continue to have regular protest actions on the last Friday of every month to expose the record of and pressure OceanaGold. The last one was in June 26, 2016.

In El Salvador, there is a strong solidarity network such as the Stop ES Network in the United States for the campaign against OceanaGold dispute case at the World Bank. Several actions have been made to pressure OceanaGold and World Bank to drop the case.

Since June 17, 2016, there is an ongoing community barricade in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines which was already able to temporarily stop the expansion of OceanaGold.

Last July 16, 2016, Kalikasan, together with Filipino scientist group AGHAM, the USA chapter of Filipino multi-sectoral alliance BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance), IPCM, and the International Allies against Mining in El Salvador (Stop ES Mining) initially launched the international campaign on OceanaGold in a forum in New York.

While the national campaigns and local resistance against OceanaGold operations in the Philippines and El Salvador continues, solidarity campaigns and groups in Australia, Canada and US have pledged to provide the needed international exposure and support.

Indeed, a global front against OceanaGold is fast growing. As long as we continue to strengthen our unity in resolute people’s struggle, the future is bright for the global resistance against OceanaGold and other mining plunderers.

Clemente Bautista is the national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment in the Philippines. He is also the regional coordinator of the Oil Watch – Southeast Asia, and the Yes to Life, No to Mining Network.For comments, email him at secretariat@kalikasan.net.

This article is a contribution to stories around the world in time for the 2016 Global Day of Action against Mega-Mining on July 22.


Philippines will not allow Tampakan mine to operate as open-pit - minister

Reuters

27 July 2016

The Philippine minister in charge of mining said she will not allow the $5.9 billion Tampakan gold and copper mine in southern Mindanao island to operate as an open-pit site and vowed to shut more operations causing environmental destruction.

The Tampakan project is the biggest stalled mining venture in the Southeast Asian country, failing to take off after the province where it is located banned open-pit mining in 2010. Commodities giant Glencore Plc quit the project last year.

"I will not allow the Tampakan project," Regina Lopez told reporters, as long as it is planned as an open-pit mine.

She said all permits given to the project will be reviewed "but we will observe due process".

Officials at Sagittarius Mines Inc, owned by local investor Alcantara Group, which has control of Tampakan, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A staunch environmentalist, Lopez said the government has suspended operations of seven domestic mines for failure to meet environmental regulations.

Lopez began an audit of all Philippine mines on July 8 as the new government led by President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to shut operations causing environmental harm.

"I do suspect that we'll probably close more mines given the number of complaints. I have the support of the police and military to run after those violating environmental laws," Lopez said.

Lopez is particularly against the use of open pits to extract minerals, earlier describing it as "madness" even to consider the method in the resource-rich Philippines because of the environmental impact.

Many mineral producers in the Philippines use open-pit mines, which are allowed under the country's mining laws.

The Philippines is the biggest supplier of nickel ore to China, where the metal is used to manufacture stainless steel.

The suspension of some Philippine nickel mines has pushed global nickel prices to an 11-month high of $10,900 a tonne on July 21.

Discovered in the early 1990s, Tampakan has yet to go into commercial operation and only secured an environmental clearance in 2013.

Sagittarius Mines this year was hoping to obtain other necessary approvals, including land access, to enable the project to proceed to construction, according to the company's website.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Writing by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


No more mining in Sarangani

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/business/2016/07/21/no-more-mining-sarangani-486534

20 July 2016

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- "Rest assured, there will be no mining applications or explorations that will be renewed in Sarangani,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has assured Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon who has long been aiming for a mining-free Sarangani.

Solon made a presentation before Lopez and environment stakeholders last July 15 at Greenleaf Hotel after their visit to Bantay Kalikasan sites in Lamlifew, Malungon; New La Union, Maitum; and Kiamba in Sarangani province.

In return, Lopez said she prohibits any form of mining in the province.

“I believe that by preserving nature, it can help end human suffering,” Lopez said.

Lopez, as ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation chairperson, plans in making Sarangani as a model for reforestation and eco- tourism.

Known to strongly oppose controversial mining projects, Lopez has planned to put up a task force in the province that would go after illegal loggers and illegal miners especially in Maitum and Kiamba.

She wants to enroll Sarangani as a model for reforestation and livelihood for the community through eco-tourism under the National Greening Program to support the province’s efforts in sustaining environment and agriculture.

Lopez, a known environmentalist, has done impressive efforts in rehabilitating the La Mesa Watershed, the Pasig River and in launching other ecotourism sites in the country.

She emphasized to create economic activity out of environmental preservation efforts.

Solon presented an overview of major environmental concerns in Sarangani – the two key biodiversity areas (KBAs) of Mt. Latian and Mt. Busa, Sarangani Bay, Malungon-Buayan River Basin, and Kling Beach Forest.

Kling Beach Forest has the potential to be the first beach forest park in the Philippines.

“Efforts should be in line with the livelihood of citizens,” Solon pointed out. “It should give good economy to the sites.”

Lopez visited the Virgin Coconut Oil Plantation in Kling, Kiamba; Lamlifew School and Museum of Living Traditions at Malungon and the White Water Tubing Ecopark in New La Union, Maitum.

These tourism sites are starting to gain popularity among tourists.

However, the white water tubing ecopark is threatened by illegal mining and logging activities where the headwaters of Pangi River lie.

The Lamlifew Village Museum is the first community-initiated museum in the Philippines through the efforts of the Lamlifew Tribal Women’s Association, the first cultural organization managed by an indigenous community registered at the Securities Exchange Commission.

“We are very honored for having the passionate and driven Ms. Gina Lopez to visit our province and be of help in preserving nature,” said Senator Manny Pacquiao, in Lamlifew.


Ex-Pangasinan gov pleads ‘not guilty’ to graft over black sand mining

by Elizabeth Marcelo

GMA News

14 July 2016

Former Pangasinan governor Amado Espino Jr. on Thursday entered a “not guilty” plea for his graft cases in connection with the alleged illegal black sand mining activities in Lingayen Gulf in 2011.

“Not guilty, you honor,” Espino told the justices of the Sixth Division after the information of the cases were read to him by the clerk of court during his arraignment.

Espino is facing two counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The cases stemmed from his alleged issuance of mining permits to two companies in 2011 despite their failure to secure environmental clearances and business permits.

Meanwhile, the following co-accused of Espino likewise pleaded “not guilty” to the graft charges:

The court set a three-day preliminary conference or marking of evidence by the prosecution and the defense on September 20, 21 and 22.

It also set the pre-trial of the case on November 10, in which the prosecution and the defense are expected to submit their final list of respective witnesses and evidence that they intend to present during the trial proper.

Meanwhile, three other respondents in the cases, namely Emiliano Buenavista of Alexandra Mining and Michael Ramirez and Avery Pujol of Xypher Builders, have yet to be arraigned as they remain at large.

Based on the information of the cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in March, Espino, in conspiracy with Baraan and Bigay, “gave unwarranted benefits, privilege and advantage” to Alexandra Mining and Xypher Builders by issuing in favor of the two companies permits to conduct “soil, magnetite and mineral extraction activities” in Barangay Sabangan in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan in 2011.

The Ombudsman said a Small Scale Mining Permit (SSMP) was issued in favor of Alexandra Mining despite lack of the necessary clearance certificates from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), accreditation from the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board or PCAB, and business permit from the municipality of Lingayen.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman said a Gratuitous Permit was issued in favor of Xypher despite also not being accredited by PCAB. Like Alexandra, the Ombudsman said Xypher also failed to secure clearance certificates from the MGB.

Further, the Ombudsman said Espino also issued a Mineral Ore Export Permit in favor of Xypher allowing the company to sell the illegally extracted minerals to DH-Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd. based in China in the amount of P10.750 million, “causing undue injury to the government.” —KBK, GMA News


Capiz lifts 50-yr mining ban; groups condemn ordinance

Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

Inquirer Visayas

25 July 2016

ILOILO CITY—Environmental groups and residents of Capiz province have condemned the passage of a provincial ordinance lifting a landmark 50-year ban on large-scale mining in the province.

The Capiz Environmental Protection Alliance (Cepa) said the passage of Provincial Ordinance No. 9 “is an act of treachery” by the provincial board against the position of of Capiceños who fought against the operation of large-scale mining in the late 1990s.

The previous provincial board passed the ordinance on May 11, two days after the national and local elections. The decision, however, was made public only last week.

Capiz Gov. Antonio del Rosario said he was against the ordinance and he would ask the provincial board to repeal the lifting of the moratorium once he receives a formal opposition from Capiz residents.

“I only learned about it from the media. I am against it because Capiz is dependent on agriculture and its aquatic and marine resources. I will not implement an ordinance that is detrimental to the interest of the people,” Del Rosario told the Inquirer on Sunday.

Capiz is a top producer of rice and seafood. Its capital, Roxas City, has been dubbed the “seafood capital of the Philippines.”

The provincial board, in the ordinance, said it was lifting the moratorium in response to appeals of officials of Maayon town who wanted to allow the operation of the Australian-owned Teresa Marble Corp.

Maayon officials had cited economic benefits for the community, including creation of jobs, business opportunities and other social benefits.

“This honorable body has come realize that it is of the best interest of the community of the province of Capiz that it is about time to fulfill the economic and social benefits of the mining project …,” the ordinance said.

Cepa said the ordinance was passed “suspiciously” and without public consultation.

“[The mining moratorium] was a product of almost half a decade of advocacy, lobbying and social mobilizations for the preservation and protection of the environment in Capiz. The moratorium for mining activities in a province was a people’s victory in the fight against commercial mining,” said Darlene Surriga, Cepa advocacy officer.

On Aug. 27, 1999 the provincial board passed an ordinance declaring a 15-year moratorium on all large-scale mining activities and the acceptance and processing of all application for mineral agreements.

Three years later, on Feb. 15, 2002, the board amended the ordinance extending the moratorium to 50 years.

Environmental advocates have hailed the 1999 and 2002 ordinances as landmark pieces of legislation passed by a local government. Several provinces, including Guimaras, have also passed similar ordinances.

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