MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines lifts ban on new mines

Published by MAC on 2021-04-18
Source: E&T, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Bulatlat

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) condemns the DENR decision.

Months after the pandemic struck, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the government would pursue mining as an economic recovery strategy. It seems it has delivered on this promise with the issuance of Executive Order No. 130 (E.O. 130), which lifts the moratorium on new mineral agreements.

“Mr. Duterte’s order to lift the mining agreement moratorium will be a disaster upon disaster because the Mining Act of 1995 is still in place. We cannot allow this deluge of destructive large-scale mining when communities are still suffering from the converging pandemic and climate crises,” Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Leon Dulce said.

Executive Order 130 PDF file: https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2021/04apr/20210414-EO-130-RRD.pdf

See also:

2020-08-26 Philippines: Mines look to re-start amid protest and killings

2020-05-24 Philippines mining during COVID: Protest and concern under quarantine

2016-08-02 Philippines: President tells miners country does not need them

Duterte’s new mining order disastrous to environment—groups

RAYMUND VILLANUEVA

https://www.bulatlat.com/2021/04/16/dutertes-new-mining-order-disastrous-to-environment-groups/

April 16, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the nine-year moratorium on new mineral agreements, earning warnings from various groups of further corporate plunder of the environment and more natural disasters.

Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat said she is dismayed with Duterte’s decision that would most likely result in the worsening of the environmental crisis in the country.

“Instead of putting a stop to environmental destruction that causes disasters, he is allowing further exploitation of our natural resources,” Cullamat said.

Cullamat, a Manobo Lumad persecuted for her community’s opposition to further mining activities in their ancestral domain, said mining projects have only brought untold suffering to various indigenous communities around the country.

“The country only earns two percent in royalty taxes in exchange for the tons of soil they extract, the poisoning of our waterways by mine tailings and the loss of livelihood and homes in mining sites,” she said.

In his Executive Order (EO) 130 issued Wednesday, April 14, Duterte amended former President Benigno Aquino’s EO 79, granting permission to the government to enter into new mineral agreements.

“The Government may enter into new mineral agreements, subject to compliance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other applicable laws, rules and regulations,” Duterte’s order said.

“The DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) may continue to grant and issue Exploration Permits,” it added.

Duterte’s order said new mineral agreements will usher significant economic benefits to the country that can support various government projects, such as the Build Build Build and Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-Asa Program by providing raw materials and new employment opportunities.

‘Unfettered corporate greed’


Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) however agreed with Cullamat, adding Duterte’s order will only result in more environmental disasters.

“Mr. Duterte’s order to lift the mining agreement moratorium will be a disaster upon disaster because the Mining Act of 1995 is still in place. We cannot allow this deluge of destructive large-scale mining when communities are still suffering from the converging pandemic and climate crises,” Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Leon Dulce said.

The Mining Act encourages 100% ownership of mineral lands by foreign corporations that operate based on “unfettered corporate greed” and does not orient the mining industry to extract based on people’s needs, he added.

Kalikasan PNE said the law also has provisions that allow companies to renege on rehabilitation, polluter taxation and waste management obligations.

“Mining companies need only to pay P50.00 per ton of waste disposed of in unauthorized areas and only P0.05 for every ton of mine waste and P0.10 for mine tailings in terms of compensation for resulting damages,” the group explained.

“Let us recall that in the industry-wide audit made by the late Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, at least 68 percent of mining companies had been found with serious violations. This revelation already spells the potential disaster that the Executive Order will bring to the environment and communities,” Kalikasan added.

Beneficial to foreign corporations

Economic think-tank IBON said that Duterte’s new order will most likely benefit foreigners, not the local industry.

“Without domestic industries to process and use the minerals, [EO 130] will just mean that the most significant value-added from our finite mineral resources will keep going to foreign firms, industries and economies,” IBON executive director Sonny Africa said.

Africa said that at the expense of even more environmental damage and displacement of rural communities, real economic gains from Duterte’s decision are negligible.

“Even before the pandemic, mining and quarrying only employed around 190,000 in 2019. That’s not even half a percentage point of total employment and the 2-week NCR+ ECQ even displaced more jobs than that,” Africa said.

Similarly, the Php15.5 billion in taxes, mining fees and royalties paid to government in 2019 is negligible even with the additional excise tax under the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, Republic Act No. 10963) law,” the economist explained.

“This EO No. 130 is just the latest sign that it really is just business as usual for the economic managers. The refusal to really reform economic policies combined with the pandemic will just mean that people will remain worse off than before the pandemic for many years to come,” Africa said.


Philippines lifts ban on new mines, much to the dismay of national environmental groups

E&T editorial staff - https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2021/04/philippines-lifts-nine-year-ban-on-new-mines-much-to-the-dismay-of-national-environmental-groups/

15 April 2021

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has lifted a nine-year moratorium on new mineral agreements imposed in 2012. The move hopes to help boost mining revenues in the country but has caused concern for environmental activists.

The Philippines, the top supplier of nickel ore to China and a major producer of copper and gold, imposed the moratorium while the government worked on legislation to boost the nation’s share of mining revenues. Since 2018, the excise tax on minerals has doubled to 4 per cent.

Duterte’s new executive order allows new mining deals and reviews of existing contracts for possible renegotiation. It also directs the environment ministry to plan terms and conditions and to implement rules on mine safety and environmental policies.

Shortly after coming to office in 2016, Duterte warned miners to follow tighter environmental rules or close. Furthermore, the new executive order does not undo a ban on new open-pit mines.

Mining is a highly controversial issue in the archipelagic country after past cases of environmental mismanagement fuelled a strong lobby against the industry led by local governments, legislators, advocacy groups, and the Catholic church.

Anti-mining group, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (Stop Mining Alliance), said the news was alarming. “In the middle of a climate crisis and this pandemic, corporate interests and profit have won again over the welfare and benefits of the many,” they said in a statement.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), which is responsible for giving permits to mining companies to do exploration of mining areas and to commence operation, found that more than a third of the Philippines’ total land area of 30 million hectares has “high mineral potential”.

The MGB estimated that miners have extracted less than 5 per cent of the country’s mineral reserves so far, and there is around $840bn (£610bn) worth of untapped mineral resources.

MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said several pending mining projects will now proceed to the development and commercial extraction stages, but warned that these projects will not mean that protecting the environment and safety will be taken lightly.

Scrambling for funds for infrastructure projects and to help support the pandemic-hit economy, the Philippine government has pushed for the revival and sale of idle state mining projects. “(The executive order) will help bring the Philippines back on the investment map,” the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said in a statement.

Dante Bravo, president of the country’s second-biggest nickel ore miner and exporter Global Ferronickel Holdings, added: “There will be a need for a lot of raw materials like nickel, copper, gold, manganese, chromite, etcetera when the world returns to normal.”

The Southeast Asian nation became the biggest supplier of nickel ore to top metals consumer China in 2020 after Indonesia banned exports of unprocessed ore.


ATM Statement: Resumption of mine operations is a big mistake

https://www.alyansatigilmina.net/single-post/atm-statement-resumption-of-mine-operations-is-a-big-mistake

14 April 2021

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) condemns in the strongest possible terms the DENR decision to allow the resumption of mine operations in the middle of a surging and worsening pandemic.

DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu and DoF Sec. Carlos Dominguez reportedly recommended to the Office of the President the issuance of a “Stay Order” for mining projects that were ordered suspended or closed by former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez in 2017.

Our alliance rejects the twisted argument of DENR and DoF that these mining projects will contribute to the economic recovery brought by the COVID19 pandemic.  Whether we look at the short-term in the past three years or from a longer perspective of more than two decades, mining has never been a significant contributor to GDP, taxes or employment.

It is the height of callousness of government officials from DENR and DoF that they disregard the basis of the suspension and closure orders issued by Gina Lopez.  The Mine Audit Reports from 2016-2017 clearly illustrate that these mining projects violated environmental laws or failed to comply with their own contractual obligations.

Since 2018, communities and green groups have been demanding that the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) disclose the findings and recommendations of its own internal review process that initially recommended the reversal of the suspended mine projects.  But the MICC has chosen to hide behind legal and technical justifications in preventing transparency on this process.

Possibly standing on shaky grounds, the MICC may have simply decided that issuing a legal memo will be the easiest and quickest way to allow mining operations again in this country.  Such is the work ethic of lazy and incompetent government officials, with utter disregard for the complaints of displaced communities.

Allowing the resumption of mine operations will increase the risks and vulnerabilities of affected-communities.  As we confront the impacts of climate change and this pandemic, more environmental destruction from mining is the last thing that our rural poor and forest-dependent communities need.

We demand that the Office of the President immediately cancel this “Stay Order” of mine operations, and that President Duterte urgently confirm and enforce the suspension and closure orders issued by Gina Lopez.

The DENR and DoF must stop this foolish track of insisting that mining will bring economic recovery from this pandemic.  How many times must we say it – there is no market economy in a dead planet.  #

For more details, please contact:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator / nc@alyansatigilmina.net / (+63917) 5498218


EO 130 lifting moratorium on mining 'disconcerting': envi group

Statement of the SOS Yamang Bayan Network on the Issuance of E.O. 130

Legal Rights Center https://www.lrcksk.org/post/eo-130-lifting-moratorium-on-mining-disconcerting-envi-group

14 April 2021

Months after the pandemic struck, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the government would pursue mining as an economic recovery strategy. It seems it has delivered on this promise with the issuance of Executive Order No. 130 (E.O. 130), which lifts the moratorium on new mineral agreements. The moratorium was put in place by EO 79, passed during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.   

SOS Yamang Bayan Network, a multi-sectoral alliance of non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples, people’s organizations, Church-based groups, youth, and artists, finds  the issuance of EO 130 disconcerting.  

The legal anchor of EO 130 is Republic Act 7942, or the 1995 Mining Act. But, in fact, this law has proven to be inadequate in many respects. For one, its penalties for environmental violations are a mere slap on the wrist of mining companies, failing to deter them. Under this law, critical environmental areas have been opened up to mining, prioritizing profit over a healthful ecology.

What’s more, the economic contributions of mining average less than 1% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—a sure sign if any that in mining, it is companies who rack up billions of earnings while mining host communities remain poor. And most importantly, cases of human rights violations hound the mining industry, which are not sufficiently addressed by RA 7942.

All these show that an executive order lifting the moratorium is not the solution. Instead, a more coherent mining policy that addresses social, environmental, and economic issues related to mining should be pursued. The SOS Yamang Bayan Network is batting for a new minerals regime that will radically transform the mining industry. The Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), filed in the House of Representatives by Congressman Lawrence Fortun and in the Senate by Senators Grace Poe and Risa Hontiveros is the vessel for such a transformation.

The AMMB increases the tax on mining from the present 4% to 10%, a number that is reasonable and judicious considering the impact of mining on the environment. It mandates a longer list of areas that will be closed off to mining, including critical watersheds, key biodiversity areas, among others. Crucially, it forms a Multi-sectoral Minerals Council, composed of representatives from host communities and local government units, which decides on mining permits. Stiffer penalties on human rights violations are also inscribed in the AMMB.

The central lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is that industrial encroachment on nature leaves humanity exposed to pathogens. More, not less, stringent environmental safeguards should therefore be prioritized. Environmental conservation is actually a matter of survival. The Network urges Congress to pass the AMMB and usher in a new law that puts life first before profit. //

SOS Yamang Bayan Network is convened by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.

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