MAC: Mines and Communities

Boneng-lubo Indigenous Peoples Resolved To Keep Mines From Reopening

Published by MAC on 2007-02-07
Source: A Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM) B ()

Boneng-Lubo Indigenous Peoples Resolved to keep Mines from Reopening

7th February 2007

A Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM) Bulletin

BENGUET PROVINCE, PHILIPPINES - In Letters of Complaint sent to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment - Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) of the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Indigenous Peoples of Barangay Lubo Kibungan Benguet Association (IPBLKBA), reiterated its objections to the numerous unauthorized visits of alleged mining representatives who have made attempts to dishearten the people in their Anti-Mining stand in their ancestral domain.

The Letters of Complaint cited two of the several incidents of unauthorized entry of mining representatives said to represent Al Magan Mining Exploration Corp. (AMMEC) despite the peoples' resolve to recover from the destruction cause by the open pit mining operation done by Western Minolco Corporation (WMC), the mining operator of Benguet Ventures Inc. (BVI) from 1974- 1982. Damages include forcible displacement of people from their ancestral domain, mining accidents such as drowning, food poisioning of about 306 people in the late '70s, drying up of major rivers caused by siltation, irreversible water diversions caused by destruction of aquifers when underground tunnels and open pits were constructed, toxins in waters and continued erosions caused by constructions done by WMC. Despite these, the people have initiated their own recovery efforts through vegetable farming. Barangay Lubo now contributes significantly to "sayote" (sechium edule) production in the country.

In February 1982, WMC declared bankruptcy, only using up 8 years of its 25 years contract with BVI. Their insolvency affected the residents and the employees. WMC left the former with unsettled land sales and leases, along with farm lands that were left non-arable because of thick landfills that were dumped by WMC. The people searched for top soil and new water sources to be able to farm again. The employees on the other hand received, at most, only half of the expected separation pay.

Then, on June 2, 1997, BVI entered into an Operating Agreement with Boneng Mining Ventures Inc. (BMVI), according to the response letter of DENR-MGB to the inquiry of the Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM) in 1997. As of December 2006, BMVI has a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) application under process with DENR-MGB filed on June 18, 1997 for 1,530 hectares in Atok, Kapangan and Kibungan, all municipalities of Benguet Province.

Meanwhile, an engineer-landowner of Barangay Lubo revealed to the community that there were investors preparing to reopen the Boneng-Lubo abandoned mines in November 2007. He admitted during the IPBLKBA General Assembly last January 27, 2007 held in Barangay Lubo, that he accompanied mining representatives to the area and that investors were preparing to return. CVM was able to get hold of information that may corroborate with the engineer's claims. In an announcement made by the Toronto, Canada's TSX Ventures Exchange, the world's largest exchange where investments in mining ventures are traded, Euro-Net Investments Ltd. (Euro-Net) has entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with AMMEC. Euro-Net intends to pay AMMEC, on closing, CAD $70 million in common shares (at $0.50 per share), in exchange for all of the legal and beneficial interest in a copper mine with an area of 1,530 hectares located in the Benguet Province, Cordillera Administrative Region, Northern Luzon, Philippines. This may be the same area applied for by BMVI as per APSA 60. Euro-Net was delisted from TSX Ventures' roster on June 25, 2004 and has been trying to get itself listed again.

Euro-Net expects to raise up to USD$24,000,000 as working capital by issuing up to 40,000,000 Units (each Unit consisting of one common share and one warrant to purchase one common share) at a price of $0.60 per Unit.

The Letters of Complaint made by the people of Lubo were endorsed by Local Government and Church Officials. DENR-MGB has yet to reply while NCIP has suggested that a dialogue between the people, NGOs, LGUs, NCIP, and DENR-MGB, be arranged to clarify the issues.

For inquiries and comments, contact Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM), Rm. 207, Pine Valley Plaza, Km. 4, La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines. Email: cvmvolunteer@yahoo.com

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