MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines update

Published by MAC on 2007-06-06


Philippines update

6th June 2007

As noted in last week's Philippines update, Manila has played host to the Asia-Pacific Mining Conference, allowing the government's propoganda machine to fill the media with yet more claims that mining will boost the Philippine economy. Among the companies lately "talking up" their projects have been BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rusina. But, as always, the opposition is vocal and emphatic.


Foreign mining giants will bring about a state of calamity in RP

Defend Patrimony Press Release

4th June 2007

Alarmed over the intensified presence of foreign mining giants in Philippine territory, local community leaders and environmental advocates under Defend Patrimony are preparing to stage protest actions tomorrow at the site of the 7th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference at the Shangri-La in Makati. The conference and exhibit is headed by the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA) and Chamber of Mines in the Philippines.

"The entry of the world's largest mining firms into the Philippines with the full backing of the Arroyo administration will bring this country into a state of calamity and will unleash an environmental tsunami that would engulf the people in a tide of unparalleled hardship," Defend Patrimony convenor Clemente Bautista Jr. said at a press conference today in Quezon City.

Bautista warned that "many of these mining giants encouraged by the government to invest in the Philippines are notorious in other parts of the globe and in other Asia-Pacific nations for their role in grave environmental disasters, spotty human rights records, and anti-labor histories".

Bautista cited the case of foreign mining giants BHP Billiton and Anglo-American. BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, is eyeing a multi-million dollar nickel project in Pujada Peninsula, Davao Oriental province in partnership with local mining firms Hallmark Mining Corp. and AustraAsia Link Mining Corp, while Anglo-American, the world's fourth largest mining company (by capitalization), has mining interests spread across Cordillera and Mindanao in the name of its subsidiaries Cordillera Exploration Inc. (CEXI) and Northern Luzon Exploration and Mining Co. Inc.

At least three of Anglo-American's pet projects are included in the 24 Priority Mining Projects of the Arroyo administration, namely the Boyongan Copper Project in Surigao del Norte (expected to go into full commercial operations by 2009), the Padcal Copper Extension Project in Tuba, Benguet with Philex Mining Corporation (expected to go into full commercial operations this year) and the Conner Copper Gold Project in Apayao and Kalinga provinces by CEXI.

BHP Billiton, Bautista said, is being wooed by President Arroyo despite the fact that it is $4 billion class suit filed this January 2007 by the Ninerum people of Papua New Guinea for the Ok Tedi environmental disaster it caused. "For two decades, BHP Billiton dumped 80,000 tons of rock mine tailings filled with toxic heavy metals such as copper, zinc, cadmium, and lead directly into the Fly and Ok Tedi rivers in Papua New Guinea. This has ruined the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers, poisoned some 2,000 square kilometers of forests, and contaminated two of Papua New Guinea's largest river systems," Bautista said.

Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA) representative Santos Mero, an Ibaloi hailing from Itogon, Benguet, where Benguet Corporation (BC), Philex Mines, and several other mining firms have open pit and strip mined for 100 years, also warned of Anglo-American's notorious record as a mining company.

"Anglo-American violated the rights of its cheap labor force from the South African community, paying them the world's lowest wages and housing them in barracks which have been compared to prison camps in 198 [...] In 2005, the Canada Commission for Environmental Cooperation named Anglo-American as one of the main toxic lead polluters throughout North America. Its operations killed crops and contaminated water sources in Venezuela, and displaced the population and ruined the local Church in Tabaco in Columbia, where the largest coal strip mine in the regions lies," Meros said.

"We have learned of this notorious human rights and environmental track record of the Anglo American in South Africa and Latin America. We do not want this to happen in the Philippines, particularly in the Cordillera. Certainly, we do not want Anglo-American to unleash its greed for profit and replicate the same human rights violations, anti-labor practices, health hazards, and environmental degradation here," Mero stressed.

Bautista also warned that the "Arroyo administration's rabid support for more mining projects by foreign firms would make the Philippines more vulnerable to grave environmental disasters such as the two mine tailings spills by Lafayette Mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the Placer Dome tragedy in Marindique island".

"We do not want other communities and other provinces to go through the same hardships that Bicolanos have faced as a result of the mine tragedy," Antonio Casitas of Sagip Isla, a local organization based in Albay calling for the end of mining operations in Rapu-Rapu, said.

"We will continue to fight against the presence of plunderous mining companies in our island and we will support the initiatives of other Filipinos against similar projects in their communities," Casitas said.

Bautista warned that the long-term effects of foreign mining would cancel out any dubious economic gains these would bring about to the country.

"The full force of large-scale foreign mining operations on the country's ecosystems and the people's health and livelihoods will completely wipe out any dubious claims of economic gains. The Arroyo administration may now be flaunting about the 6.9 percent economic increase in the first quarter of 2007, part of which may be attributed to an 11 percent growth in mining investments. But in the long run, these numbers will matter little in comparison to the projected degree of plunder, environmental damage, health hazards, and labor violations that these mining companies have historically brought about," Bautista said. ###

Reference:

Clemente Bautista 9248756, 092284489787
Antonio Casitas 09107704641
Santos Mero 09182898174

-- DEFEND PATRIMONY! is a broad alliance comprised of organizations and individuals united in the defense of Filipino people's rights and national patrimony againt the wholesale plunder of our mineral and other natural resources. Our unity is based on the principles of goodwill and solidarity, cooperation and consensus, and independence and initiative.

# 26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Email: dpatrimony@gmail.com


Gov't warned about mining firms with poor track record

By TJ Burgonio, Inquirer - http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=69691

5th June 2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Environmental groups cautioned the government Monday against allowing "mining giants'' with poor environmental records elsewhere in the world to operate here, even as they prepared to mount protests coinciding with the 7th Asia Pacific Mining Conference.

Clemente Bautista, one of the organizers of a group called Defend Patrimony, said he deplored that the government has been prodding the world's largest mining companies to invest here even though these companies had caused environmental disasters.

He cited the cases of case of BHP Billiton and Anglo-American.

Bautista said AHP Billiton was being wooed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even though it is facing a $4-billion class suit filed by the Ninerum people of Papua New Guinea over its mine tailings that flowed into the Fly and Ok Tedi rivers.

The company, he said in a briefing, is eyeing a multi-million-dollar nickel project in Davao Oriental in partnership with local mining firms Hallmark Mining Corp. and AustraAsia Link Mining Corp.

Anglo-American, on the other hand, has three pet projects, including Boyongan Copper Project in Surigao del Norte, the Padcal Copper Extension Project in Tuba, Benguet with Philex Mining Corp., and the Conner Copper Gold Project in Apayao and Kalinga provinces.

Elsewhere in the world, Anglo American has a poor environment record. For instance, its operations allegedly destroyed the ecological balance in Zambia, and killed crops and contaminated waters in Venezuela, according to Santos Mero of the Cordillera People's Alliance.

It was named by the Canada Commission for Environmental Cooperation as one of the main toxic lead polluters throughout North America, he added.

"We have learned of this notorious human rights and environmental track record of the Anglo American in South Africa and Latin America. We do not want this to happen in the Philippines, particularly in the Cordillera,'' he said.

Bautista warned that the administration's stepped-up efforts to lure foreign companies would make the country "more vulnerable to grave environmental disasters'' such as the 2005 mine tailings spills at the Lafayette mining project in Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

"We do not want other communities and other provinces to go through the same hardships that Bicolanos have faced as a result of the mine tragedy,'' said Antonio Casitas of Sagip Isla, an Albay-based organization calling for a stop of mining in Rapu-Rapu island.

Defend Patrimony and Alyansa Tigil Mina were to stage rallies on Tuesday outside the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City, venue of the 7th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference, to protest the operation of mining companies in the country.

"It's just right that we conduct these protest actions. Just as the bishops had said, we should open our eyes to the mining of our land, and the destruction that it has wrought on our environment, and the livelihood of our people,'' Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan City said.

The senators, including the newly elected candidates, should review the effects of Mining Act vis-à-vis environment groups' call for its scrapping, he added.


Groups renew drive to scrap mining law

By Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror

5th June 2007

ANTIMINING groups renewed Monday the campaign to scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, warning that the entry of the world's giant mining firms will cause environmental catastrophe.

The entry of BHP Billiton and Anglo-American will "bring the country into a state of calamity" and "unleash an environmental tsunami," said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), during a press conference in Quezon City on Monday.

The group was scheduled to stage a lightning rally at the RCBC Plaza, near the TVI headquarters and Australian and Canadian Embassies along Dela Rosa corner Ayala Avenue, Makati City, late in the afternoon Monday in protest against the scheduled Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition to be held in Makati City this week.

Today, June 5, a protest march from LandMark, Makati to Glorieta 3 Garden near Shangri-La Hotel will be held in time for the mining conference's kick-off ceremony.

The group is expected to launch the Human Rights Impact Assessment Publication on Thursday, exposing the alleged ills of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

The anti-mining protesters found a strong ally in Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, who reiterated the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the mining issue.

Yñiguez said there is a need to reassess the cost and the benefits of mining in the Philippines, taking note of the tragedy it brings in the name of economic development, before opening the doors to more mining firms.

"I am calling on the lawmakers to review the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and for President Arroyo to reconsider her policy on mining," he said.

ATM, a network of nongovernment organizations and civil society organizations, assailed the government for playing host to the 7th Asia Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibit in Makati City which is scheduled to kick of today, Tuesday.

Garganera said as the government was upholding the economic benefits of mining during the 2006 Asean Mining Conference and Exhibition last year, an environmental disaster was also ongoing, referring to disaster brought about by the two mining incident at the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project of the Australian mining firm Lafayette Philippines Inc. on Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay.

"We were really shocked by the fact that the management of that mining company were scrambling to cover up the incident, while at the same time extolling the economic impact of mining money to our shores," Garganera said.

The environmental activists group Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) and Defend Patrimony vowed to stage a series of protest actions against the scheduled regional conference on mining.

Kalikasan-PNE secretary general Clemente Bautista echoed Garganera's call to scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, saying it only favors foreign interests, which have control of both capital and technology.

He said the provisions of the law and especially the implementing rules and regulations are "spurious and oppressive, immoral and antipeople."

Worse, he said, the law condemns the very poorest and marginalized sector-the indigenous people-to suffer even more as they watch the destruction of their ancestral lands.

"We condemn the gross environmental destruction caused by large-scale, open-cast and mechanized mining operations which virtually destroy the lands, forests, rivers and oceans leading to habitat alteration, loss of rich bio-diversity and irreversible impacts on climate change," he said.

Bautista warned that the entry of giant mining firms in the Philippines, most of which are notorious in other parts of the globe for their role in grave environmental disasters, spotty human rights records, and anti-labor histories.

He cited the case of BHP Billiton and Anglo-American, which are both eyeing big projects in the Philippines.

BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, is eyeing a multimillion-dollar nickel project in Pujada Peninsula, Davao Oriental in partnership with local mining firms Hallmark Mining Corp. and AustraAsia Link Mining Corp.

Anglo-American, the world's fourth largest mining company by capitalization, has mining interests spread across Cordillera and Mindanao through its subsidiaries Cordillera Exploration Inc. (CEXI) and Northern Luzon Exploration and Mining Co. Inc.

At least three of Anglo-American's pet projects are included in the 24 priority mining projects of the Arroyo administration, namely, the Boyongan Copper Project in Surigao del Norte, which is expected to go into full commercial operations in 2009, the Padcal Copper Extension Project in Tuba, Benguet with Philex Mining Corp., which is expected to go into full commercial operations this year, and the Conner Copper Gold Project in Apayao and Kalinga provinces by CEXI.

BHP Billiton is being wooed by the government, despite the fact that it is facing a $4-billion class suit filed only this January 2007 by Nenrum people of Papua New Guinea for the Ok Tedi environmental disaster it has caused.#


Windfall from fresh mining permits bared

By ELLALYN B. DE VERA, Manila Bulletin

6th June 2007

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes revealed yesterday that he has approved 12 mining permits that will bring in at least P224.7 million in investments for the country in the next two years.

Reyes, speaking before global mining leaders during the 7th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City, said of the 12 permits, seven are mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) and five are exploration permits (EP).

He said Hard Rock Mineral Trading Inc. received one MPSA for the exploration and development of nickel and cobalt deposits in Zamboanga City; three for East Coast Mineral Resources Co. Inc. to be operated by Cagdianao Mining Corp. for Loreto, Surigao del Norte and Libjo, Surigao del Norte; Holcim Philippines Inc. for the exploration and development of limestone in La Union; Apex Mining Co. Inc. for gold copper, silver, and zinc development in Compostela Valley; and Berong Nickel Corp. for the development of nickel, cobalt, chromite, and iron deposits in Palawan. Ivanhoe Philippines Inc. had one EP for the exploration of copper and gold in Bohol; Colossal Mining Corp., three EPs for exploration of magnetite sand in Cagayan, Laoag City, and Ilocos Sur; and Norte de Oro Mining and Industrial Corp. for the copper and gold exploration in Bukidnon.

The DENR chief said some P196.35 million in investments are expected from the initial exploration activities of six MPSAs, and P28.44 million in initial exploration funds for the five EPs.

"We are desirous in sustaining the growth momentum of our minerals industry and emphasize the strong desire of the government to revitalize a sector that we believe could serve as a development and growth driver for the economy," Reyes said.


Growth for revitalized Philippine mining, but far from full potential

Agence France Press

6th June 2007

Revitalized mining activity in the Philippines is starting to impact on economic growth amid a surge of foreign capital, the top industry regulator said Tuesday.

Gross production value of the industry rose to P68.4 billion ($1.5 billion) last year, nearly double the calendar 2002 figure of P35.2 billion, Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Horacio Ramos said.

It grew "almost 56 percent" in the three months to March 2007 amid continued high metal prices, he said without giving monetary figures.

He said mining activity has picked up in the last two and a half years following the Supreme Court's ruling that the 1995 Mining Act, which opened the sector to foreign investors, did not contradict a constitutional provision on equity ownership limits.

Manila expects fresh inflows of $348 million this year, with the cumulative total expected to reach $6.5 billion in 2011, Ramos told an Asia-Pacific mining conference in Manila.

With some two dozen flagship projects in various stages of production, development or exploration involving copper, gold, nickel, zinc, and chromite, mining contributed P14.8 billion, or 1.2 percent to the gross domestic product last year, he said.

Mineral exports reached $2.06 billion and the sector employed 141,000 people and paid out P3.1 billion in royalties and taxes, which "augur well for employment and the poverty reduction program" of the government.

However, he said the industry remains "relatively small compared to other mining countries" considering the Philippines' massive reserves potential for key minerals.

Should all the priority projects be pursued the value of the mineral output could reach $6 billion by 2010 and raise mining's share to total exports to around nine percent, "reflective of the country's mineral wealth," Ramos said.

He said the government is "both bullish and cautious" about 2008 industry prospects due to the possibility of an economic lift but also wary of the "challenges that come with increasing mining activity."

He acknowledged that the Philippines has been scoring poorly in Canada's Fraser Institute survey of global mining perceptions.

"The survey is significant because it gives us an idea of what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong as well as the areas we should focus on," Ramos said.

"The quality of the legal and fiscal regime defines a country's competitiveness," he added.

Agence France Presse


BHP Billiton looks at US$1b investment in Philippines: official

Channel News Asia - http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific_business/view/280163/1/.html

4th June 2007

MANILA: BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, is looking to invest up to US$1 billion in a nickel project in the southern Philippines, a senior mining industry official said Monday.

The project is at the "conceptual" stage and BHP chief executive, Chip Goodyear had discussed it during President Gloria Arroyo's recent trip to Australia, said Benjamin Philip Romualdez, president of the Philippine Chamber of Mines.

Arroyo met mining executives during her brief visit to Australia last week.

Romualdez, who was present at the meeting, said the site is located near Mati on the southeast coast of the mineral rich southern island of Mindanao.

BHP Billiton officials said the project would require investment of up to a billion dollars, he added. No timetable was laid out.

Romualdez said foreign mining companies have invested about US$700 million in the Philippines over the past three years after the Supreme Court upheld a 1997 mining law that allowed foreign entities to skirt constitutional restrictions on foreign investment in key sectors of the economy.

He said the sector expects fresh investments of between US$400 million and US$500 million this year.


Xstrata sees growth by acquisition and projects

By Russell Blinch, Reuters

5th June 2007

MANILA - Xstrata is evaluating a half dozen mining projects around the world with the aim of doubling its copper production, although growth through acquisitions is still part of the company's strategy, according to the chief executive of Xstrata Copper.

Charlie Sartain said the company is aiming to boost copper production to two million tonnes a year from about 1 million tonnes now.

"If you are not producing two million tonnes a year you are not going to be a leader in the industry," Sartain told reporters at the Asia Pacific Mining Conference.

Xstrata has a number of new mining projects from Peru to the Philippines, which are in early stages of evaluation. Sartain, however, said it was unrealistic to believe all projects would reach production after initial development studies.

The London-listed Xstrata has made a flurry of deals, buying both properties and companies in its bid to expand its holdings. Xstrata made three big acquisitions in 2006 -- one third of Colombia's Cerrejon coal operation, Peru's Tintaya copper mine and, the biggest, Canada's Falconbridge.

But Sartain said the company was looking for to expand both through takeovers and through development of new deposits.

"There is no doubt that the philosophy of growth through acquisition has been spectacularly successful for Xstrata," Sartain said.

But he said: "In addition to continuing to look for acquisitions we will also grow through project development." He said one of the biggest projects on the tap is the company's Tampakan project on the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines.

The company exercised its option for a 62.5 stake last December in the project that is estimated to contain 11.6 million tonnes of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.

"We will be looking to pursue the evaluation as quickly as we can," he said without giving further details on when it will be decided to go with the project or not.


Rusina Mining plans to invest 600 mln usd in Philippine projects

AFX News Limited, Forbes

7th June 2007

MANILA (XFN-ASIA) - Rusina Mining NL plans to invest up to US$ 600 mln usd in the next four years for the development of various mine sites and the construction of a nickel processing plant in the Philippines, chief executive Robert Gregory said.

'We are looking at different strategies and approaches to accelerate our mining interests in the Philippines,' Gregory told reporters at a mining conference here.

On top of Rusina Mining's plans is to build a 500-mln usd 'heap leach' processing plant in Zambales, northwest of the capital Manila, Gregory said.

Heap leaching of mined ores is a technology that allows gold, copper, nickel and other precious metals to be extracted from low-grade ores at low capital and operating costs.

'This technology would allow us to get value-added from the nickel ore deposits in Acoje mines, not to mention platinum and chromite,' said Gregory.

He said the company's partner for the plant, European Nickel PLC, will be injecting an initial 10 mln usd to conduct a feasibility study. It is targeting to operate the plant in four years.

Rusina Mining, he said, may also partially finance a 100 mln usd smelter plant that DMCI Holdings Inc is planning to construct in Semirara Island in central Philippines.

DMCI and Rusina Mining earlier formed a joint venture company, Zambales Diversified Metals Corp, to develop and process nickel extracted from the Acoje mines.

Recently, the joint venture firm acquired an environmental compliance certificate for the commercial operations of Acoje, last mined eight years ago, primarily for platinum and chromite. The mines are estimated to have nickel ore reserves of up to 33 mln tons.

Gregory said that by next month, Zambales Diversified Metals will make its initial bulk sample shipment of 50,000 tons of nickel ore to China. 'Eventually, we want to bring the volume up to 1 mln tons and up to 2 mln tons.'

Aside from its mining interests in Luzon, Rusina Mining also holds mining exploration permits for copper and gold reserves in Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato in southern Philippines.

Its South Cotabato exploration project is adjacent to the Tampakan copper-gold project of Xstrata Copper Plc and Sagittarius Mines Inc.

The Tampakan gold-copper site is believed to be the largest untapped mine reserve in Southeast Asia estimated to contain 11.6 mln tons of copper and 14.6 mln ounces of gold.

 

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