MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines update

Published by MAC on 2007-08-21


Philippines update

21st August 2007

The new Philippines' Environment Secretary, Lito Atienza, has asked for restraint on the part of the communist NPA, following threats against foreign mining companies. However, generally there seems to be little restraint between those promoting the industry and those resisting it, as clashes escalate between the two. Subanon people at Canatuan have once again taken their complaints to the United Nations, given the lack of protection afforded them by their own government. A mayor in Palawan, and a,governor in Davao Oriental have both spoken out against large-scale mining.

The UK's Guardian newspaper has run a story on the opposition of local people to the proposed project of Crew Minerals in Mindoro. And conflict seems to be growing between communities in Benguet and mining companies, where Indigenous Peoples believe their protests have not been heard.

A Philippine NGO has rejected the attempt by Lafayette Mining to sue it for libel, referring to the case as a spurious example of a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).


Groups tell United Nations committee that the Philippine Government fails to respect Indigenous Peoples' Rights

Task Force Canatuan Press Release

21st August 2007

The Government of the Philippines stands accused of failing to uphold its obligations to respect and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. A consortium of NGOs, led by three indigenous Subanon organisations, presented detailed information to the United Nations in Geneva. They catalogued the government's discriminatory policies and actions against them, and other Indigenous Peoples, in relation to its promotion of large-scale mining on their ancestral lands.

In their verbal and written submissions to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD), the Subanon Timuay (traditional leaders), Jose Anoy and Fernando Mudai, charged that the Government of the Philippines was responsible for allowing serious and sustained abuses against the Subanon People. Illustrative of this was the fact that, despite the sustained opposition of the original Subanon inhabitants of the Mount Canatuan area, their sacred mountain has been desecrated by large-scale mining operations of a Canadian mining company, TVI Pacific.

Timuay Fernando Mudai explained, "We are not anti-government or anti-development as some people claim. We believe in a development path determined by the Subanon themselves, one that follows our core principles of being pro-life, pro-people, pro-environment and pro-God. We have seen what has happened at Canatuan and this mining project goes against all of these principles. To defend our future we have no choice but to oppose this abusive project and its planned expansion."

The Subanon highlighted that the irreparable damage to their ancestral domain was achieved with the support of abusive paramilitary forces, employed by TVI Pacific, and armed, trained and supervised by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They described the failure to obtain their consent and the manipulation of the associated process by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as indicative of the failure of the Government of the Philippines to respect and protect their rights. These rights, which are guaranteed under national and international law, include their rights to self-determination and control over their ancestral domains. The Subanon stated that the Government of Canada, through its support for TVI Pacific and other mining companies in the Philippines, shares in the responsibility for the violation of their rights.

The UN CERD met for its 71st session in Geneva from 30 July --17 August. The Committee is responsible for monitoring state party adherence to their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The Philippines, which ratified ICERD in 1967, has failed in its obligations to submit regular reports. It last filed a report in 1997. At that time, the committee expressed its concern regarding mining applications on indigenous lands, calling on the government to address these issues in its subsequent report.

The Subanon encouraged CERD and other organs of the UN to take steps to remind the Government of the Philippines of its obligations to:-

* respect the wishes and protect the interests of its Indigenous Peoples;
* respect Subanon and other Indigenous Peoples' religious freedoms, beliefs and their sacred sites;
* respect Subanon customary laws and uphold the rulings of indigenous authorities;
* halt current mining operations and expansion plans in and around Canatuan.

The full statement presented to CERD can be downloaded at:- http://www.piplinks.org/development_issues/Subanon_CERD.pdf

For more information contact:-

* Zherwinah Mosqueda, LRC-KSK -- email zherwinah@yahoo.com
* Timuay Fernando Mudai, PBS -- email pigsalabukan@yahoo.com
* Geoff Nettleton, PIPLinks - email info@piplinks.org

Notes for Editors

1 Task Force Canatuan is a loose umbrella organisation concerned about TVI Pacific's activities in Canatuan. Local, national and international groups associated with it include Apo Manglang Glupa' Pusaka (AMGP), Gukom of the Seven Rivers, Pigsalabukan Bangsa Subanon (PBS), Save Siocon Paradise Movement (SSPM), DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK), Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Misereor Partnerships (PMP), Tebtebba Foundation, MiningWatch Canada and Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)

2 The submitting organisations are Apo Manglang Glupa' Pusaka (AMGP), Gukom of the Seven Rivers, Pigsalabukan Bangsa Subanon (PBS), LRC-KSK, Tebtebba Foundation, Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks) and Irish Centre for Human Rights. The three presenting organisations were AMGP, PBS and the Gukom of the Seven Rivers.

3 The rights invoked include those which are guaranteed under the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines and the 1997 Indigenous Peoples Rights Act

4 In 2004 the highest judicial authority of the Subanon of this region- the Gukom of the Seven Rivers, which is recognised by the Government's NCIP, ruled that, based on Subanon customary laws, the free prior informed consent of the legitimate Canatuan Subanon for mining had not been obtained, and that a bogus tribal authority had been established by the NCIP. It demanded that this bogus authority be disbanded and that all agreements entered into by it declared null and void. Despite this, the bogus group continues to be recognized by the Government of the Philippines and the Canadian company.


Church and Local Government Joins Against Destructive Mining

By Daniel Castillo, DCMI - Prelature of Ipil

12th August 2007

Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay - The Diocesan Clergy of Ipil, led by the Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Joel Ramasola, and the Local Government of this town, led by Mayor Richard Tiu, made a joint declaration against destructive mining last week. The declaration was the result of a joint ocular inspection of the operation of medium-scale mining in the Barangays of Kapatagan and Payongan.

The two groups who conducted the joint inspection found that the said mining activities carried out long time ago which unknown by the local government and residents far from these said barangays. During the visit, Mayor Richard Tiu and the members of municipal council, urged those engaged in the medium-scale mining to stop and leave the area as soon as possible to avoid legal action The investigators discovered that the mining activities are owned by a certain Philip Tan from Zamboanga City, from outside the area.

Municipal Councilor Ben Babaran confirmed that the Mayor and all members of the municipal council are fully against all forms of destructive mining. The Parish Assembly of the Municipality of Alicia also shared their own position against all destructive, aggressive and exploitative mining, not merely in Alicia town but all over Zamboanga Peninsula. The Mayor of Alicia shared with the church that the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific, who are accused of multiple human rights violations in Mount Canatuan, Zamboanga del Norte, courted him to operate mining in the town.

But the Mayor warned the company that they should undergo the proper processes mandated by law and in accordance with the norms and tradition of the people living there, and should not replicate what they did in Canatuan. TVI Pacific firm is presently operating in Mount Canatuan, despite it failing to get the genuine consent from the legal and legitimate owner of the Subanon's Ancestral Domain. Despite constant accusations of human rights violations and environmental destruction in Canatuan and beyond, the company has stubbornly continued to operate an open cut mining with the support from the national government and the Canadian Government, though its Embassy in Manila.


Bishop of Dipolog Dismayed over his Meeting with Canadian Embassy Officials in Manila

By Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

12th August 2007

Dipolog City - Most Rev. Jose R. Manguiran, the Bishop of the Diocese of Dipolog, was dismayed by his meeting with Canadian Embassy officials in Manila on Thursday 9th August.

The Bishop of Dipolog, who is also in charge of DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), has constantly highlighted the problems caused by the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific in Mount Canatuan. He presented these to Canadian Embassy officials in Manila, who have so far supported the company's mining operation. Officials from Kairos Canada, an ecumenical human rights, justice and peace organization, together with Philippine partners, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Center for Environmental Concern, accompanied the Bishop to the Embassy. "I was really dismayed over the meeting with Canadian Embassy officials.

It seems that while they are coming from thousands of miles away from Siocon Zamboanga del Norte, that they are more knowledgeable on the issue of my people than me,?" Bishop Manguiran told his staff. "Although it is understandable that the Embassy officials defend TVI, because it is a Canadian firm and the truth of its human rights abuses would affect the image of Canada and its Government, it'?s very unfair of the Canadian Government to defend companies like TVI in the Philippines, while preserving its own resources and environment," Bishop Manguiran pointed out.

He declared that the Canadian Government had much influenced the crafting of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act, and was disappointed that the Philippine Government has also defended TVI as a responsible miner, in spite of the reported grave abuses it has perpetrated.


DENR appeals to NPA to drop threats vs mining firms

Malaya - http://www.malaya.com.ph/aug23/metro4.htm

23rd August 2007

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Lito Atienza on Wednesday appealed to communist rebels not to resort to violence in dealing with the reported abuses of mining companies operating in the country.

He said he is ready to listen to complaints by local residents against mining firms.

Atienza made the appeal in reaction to the pronouncement of the New People's Army that its next target would be mining sites that have been the subject of complaints by local communities and environmental groups.

"We hope that they do not resort to any unjustifiable action that will put the benefits (from mining activities to waste)," Atienza told reporters during a briefing. "Why would they do that? If they are out to help the people, especially the locals, they should also be very cautious."

"If there are complaints, we probably have to look at them. There might really be abuses (on the part of mining companies). We'll take note of what the NPA is claiming," he said.

"I will always be open to addressing and really satisfying the local concerns because they know best what the truth is since they are the locals. They are the ones seeing the abuses on the mountains, at the mining sites. They are the ones who see when the streams are being poisoned, when streams are destroyed because of carelessness," he said.

"I'd like to put up a very vibrant equation where the sectors are given an opportunity to air (their side). Then it's our opportunity to listen," he added.

Apart from the purported destruction caused by mining operations on the environment, anti-mining groups have also complained about the alleged displacement of members of indigenous groups from their homes once mining is undertaken in these areas. Atienza said security to threatened mining companies will be provided on a case-to-case basis.

He noted that "things are looking very well for the country" with regard to the revitalization of the mining industry. The government has 23 priority mining projects that are expected to result in $8 billion in investments up to 2015.


Puerto Princesa' Hagedorn rejects mining projects

By Redempto Anda, Southern Luzon Bureau

21st August 2007

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines -- The ongoing nickel ore rush in southern Palawan may have attracted all sorts of mining investors big and small, dubious and legitimate.

But the roads leading to the reddish brown soil that Palawan's landscape is famous for just ended at the entrance to Puerto Princesa City, the province's capital and host to wide areas of high-grade nickel ore.

Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn on Tuesday said he will not approve any of the pending mining applications in the city -- at least during the remainder of his three-year term.

At the same time, he called for the filing of a resolution in the city council that will declare a 25-year moratorium on mining in Puerto Princesa.

"If the mining companies can show me a place with intact forest cover and where people have become wealthy and healthy after a massive mining operation, I might change my mind," Hagedorn told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

Hagedorn was reacting to questions on how the city government will respond to reported offers for assistance of major mining companies eyeing to put up nickel ore mining operations in Puerto Princesa.

"The ugly sight of the denuded forests of Sta. Lourdes and the mercury mine tailings that were dumped along Honda Bay only strengthen my resolve to oppose mining operations here in Puerto Princesa," he added.

Hagedorn explained that the recent conversion of Puerto Princesa into a highly urbanized city allowed them to be administratively independent of the provincial government and gave them the power to deny with finality all small-scale permit applications previously approved by the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB).

Small-scale mining permits are awarded by the PMRB. In Palawan, they are used by big mining companies to start up large-scale mining operations, ostensibly because they are easier to acquire than the large-scale mining permits given by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Hagedorn's announcement effectively turned down reported overtures from several major mining companies, including Atlas Consolidated Nickel Mining Corporation whose subsidiary, Berong Nickel Mining Corporation, is eyeing to set up operations near Ulugan Bay overlooking the St. Paul 's Subterranean River National Park.

Instead of jumping into the Palawan bandwagon where all municipalities embraced mining investors with open arms, Hagedorn said the city government has mapped out "a strategic plan to boost our tourism and agriculture sector."

"In line with our sustainable development vision, we can only promote two major industries -- tourism and agriculture. That is why we are allocating more funds to enhance our tourism program," Hagedorn said.


Davao Oriental governor holds granting of mining permits

Business World : The Nation - http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?id=071

12th August 2007

Davao City --- Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon has suspended the granting of mining permits especially to small-scale miners following the controversies hounding the industry.

Ms. Malanyaon said the suspension was based on reports that some mining permits were not completed, and that the companies or individuals who were holders of the permits did not comply with the requirements.

Controversies prompt Davao Oriental to suspend issuance of mining permits.

"I am also evaluating whether those that were issued with permits really complied with the requirements," she said, pointing out that one of the requirements was those prior consent of indigenous communities in the area.

She said she was also informed that some mining groups were even maintaining private army and that she could never tolerate these activities.

Another reason for the suspension was the arrest of Gilbert Pajo, environment and natural resources officer of the province, for allegedly trying to extort money from a businessman exporting copper ore.

Ms. Malanyaon said there is a need to look into the charges against Mr. Pajo.

Davao Oriental province is among those established to have large deposits of chromite, copper and nickel.

With positive findings of gold deposits, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said the volume of the precious metal cannot be determined as yet.

The Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group earlier arrested Mr. Pajo after Ruben Feliciano, a copper ore exporter, complained that the government official tried to extort P100,000 from him in exchange for the granting of an ore transport permit.

Mr. Pajo, in an interview on local television, dragged former governor Ma. Elena Palma Gil as among those whom he shared the bribe. Ms. Palma Gil denied the claim.

Complicated problem

The controversy was further complicated since Mr. Feliciano's source of ore was allegedly extracted from a concession area granted to another mining company, Global Integrated Ore Mining Corp. whose president is Ramonsito Uy.

Mr. Uy filed a complaint with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources questioning the grant of temporary permits to three other companies, including Mr. Feliciano's, despite the permit granted to him by the department on Nov. 10, 2006.

Mr. Uy's permit covered about 20 hectares in Calapagan, Lupon, Davao Oriental, the area where Mr. Feliciano allegedly extracted the ores. --- Carmelito Q. Francisco


March of the mines sees islanders facing loss of ancestral homeland

Ian MacKinnon in Mindoro, Philippines, The Guardian

20th August 2007

President's 'war on poverty' has multinationals eyeing mineral and metal reserves

For farmers like Ramil Baldo, making a living has never been easy. Venturing out from his bamboo shack, which lacks electricity, running water and sanitation, he harvests whatever he can. Mainly it is bananas and other fruits from the jungle-clad uplands on the Philippine island of Mindoro. Only a stunning mountainous panorama above and a river bubbling below his hilltop settlement offset the privations.

But it appears things may soon become a lot harder for the 34-year-old farmer and at least 5,000 other Mangyans given the plans of a British based multinational mining company to remove residents from the land they have farmed for six centuries, land that houses their forebears' sacred ancestral burial grounds.

The threat facing these Mangyans, members of Mindoro's indigenous people, from the proposal by Crew Development to strip-mine 37.5 square miles (97.2 sq km) is so severe that Mr Baldo has left the island for only the second time in his life - to bring the people's plight to the attention of MPs at Westminster.

"We don't ever want to leave this area, especially the burial sites of our forefathers," he said while at home, sitting in a shack that serves as the schoolhouse for his Kisluyan community. "This land is our ancestral domain where our grandparents and parents lived and died. It's the only place we know. We're worried, very worried. This land's our only livelihood."

But the land is also a key part of the plan of the Philippines president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to stake the country's future on mining to win the "war on poverty". Immense, barely tapped reserves of minerals and precious metals offer a rich seam of wealth.

Applications for 2,000 mines await a green light. With backing from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, the Philippines liberalised its mining sector regulations in 1995, giving generous tax breaks and imposing few restrictions on foreign ownership, so as to attract investment by multinational mining companies.

Legal challenges to the legislation failed despite a chequered environmental record and litany of mining disasters.

This year the British MP Clare Short launched a scathing report on Philippines mining after heading an investigation into human rights and environmental impact. "I have never seen anything so systematically destructive as the mining programme in the Philippines," she wrote in her introduction to Mining in the Philippines: Conflicts and Concerns. "The environmental effects are catastrophic as are the effects on lives."

Apart from the dismay over the trampling of Mangyan rights, there is widespread alarm that Crew's nickel and cobalt mine could adversely affect the farmland that makes Mindoro a nationally important area for rice. The opencast mine that will strip the topsoil and process ore down to 15 metres is crossed by two rivers.

"Our rice fields will be destroyed by the mine," said Evelyn Cacha, who manages a family-run rice mill and is former chair of the anti-mine coalition Alamin. "The ore extraction will spoil surface and groundwater. I tell other millers to look around at the rice fields because we'll never see their like again."

In Villa Cerveza, in the eye of the controversy, the mining firm won grudging support from impoverished inhabitants. Crew brought electrification and medical services. However some residents are not convinced. Larry Lubasan, 50, an opponent, said: "The mining company's just trying to buy us off. I'm afraid the chemicals will flow into the rivers. Those living near mines in the Philippines see only negative effects."

Mindoro's 700,000 residents suffered cataclysmic flooding in late 2005, and environmentalists believe upland areas stripped of vegetation by the mining could leave the basin open to flash floods. Crew says it plans to strengthen riverbanks. But for a yearly haul of 40,000 tonnes of nickel and four tonnes of cobalt, four million tonnes of waste "tailings" will be dumped on a land site.

This has raised concerns about leaks - judged unfounded by Crew. The firm claims it scrapped earlier plans to pump waste "tailings" almost two and a half miles out to sea at Pinamalayan in rich tuna grounds near an area of strong marine biodiversity. But residents are still sceptical. "The council prohibits us from throwing rubbish around, why can't the government ban them from tossing their waste in the sea?" said 68-year-old Deofistas Sales. "There's no doubt our catches will suffer."

Pinamalayan's fishermen have blood ties to the neighbouring island of Marinduque, a Philippines byword for mining disasters. In 1996 a mine spewed 4m tonnes of poisonous grey sludge into a river, causing the deaths of two children and affecting 20,000 villagers. Recently the government halted Australia's Lafayette Mining operations for 16 months at Rapu-Rapu after two cyanide spills within a month.

The disasters spawned an alliance - of Mindoro's provincial government, the city mayors, the Catholic church, environmentalists and human-rights groups - that is determined to see off Crew. The firm, which claims it has got the support of Mindoro's local councils, says the Manila government rates the nickel project a top priority. It says 2,000 mining jobs and 20,000 in supporting industries will be created.

Hans Christian Quist, president of the Norway-based Crew Minerals, a Crew Development subsidiary, said though they needed to talk to local politicians. "Some have not been well informed."

But Daphne Villanueva, Christian Aid's Philippines' representative, said: "Looking at the history of Philippines mining cases - they've all gone wrong. Our role is to protect the rights of the poor against big business. The Mangyans' rights are already violated and now their lands are being encroached."

Ned de Guzman, director of Mahal, a Mindoro social development group, said: "Jobs will be for those with mining expertise, from outside the province. Mindoro will bear the full brunt of the costs and see none of the benefits."

Backstory

The Philippines archipelago of more than 7,200 islands is among the world's most mineral-rich countries, with gold, silver, bauxite, nickel and coal mines. But it remains one of Asia's poorest nations, with a fragile democracy, slow growth, weak institutions, and a widening wealth gap. Its mineral reserves are estimated to be worth £420bn, yet only 1.4% of the estimated 22m acres (9m ha) of mining land is covered by permits. To exploit the resources the government formed a mining act in 1995. It claimed the industry would bring an extra million jobs over the next six years, although only 125,000 people are now employed in mining. The development has come at a price for the country's 84 million people. The worst mining disaster was on Marinduque island, involving a leak of 4m tonnes of toxic waste at Marcopper's mine. The estimated damages of £40m have yet to be fully recouped.


Bloody mining conflict looms---NGO

By James Konstantin Galvez Reporter, Manila Times -

http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/aug/17/yehey/prov/20070817pro6.html

17th August 2007

Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) on Thursday warned of a bloody confrontation between tribal communities and a mining company in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, if the military and police forces insist on dismantling a barricade installed by the tribes to protest the entry of Oxiana mining company.

Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE national coordinator, warned of "an impending and possibly bloody standoff if Oxiana and state military forces insist on bringing in Oxiana's drilling equipment into the area and continue to push further into ancestral lands in Kasibu."

Oxiana Philippines Inc. and its foreign partner RoyalCo, Ltd. of Australia are trying to have a foothold on Barangay PaO, Kakidugan, and four others in the municipality of Kasibu.

Kalikasan PNE claims there are reports indicating that a showdown is in the offing. According to Fidel Opay, a kagawad of Barangay Dine, Kasibu, and chairman of the Lower Muta Valley Farmers' Federation, more than 300 indigenous tribal people from Kasibu's Ibaloi, Ifugao, Kalanguya, Bugkalot, Kankaney and Bontoc communities are defending a people's barricade in Barangay Pacuet, Kasibu.

Oxiana will reportedly bring in drilling equipment on Thursday, accompanied by police and military forces to break the barricade. Mayor Romeo C. Tayaban of Kasibu said that a preliminary injunction was issued early Thursday morning by Executive Judge Godofredo Naui of the South District Regional Trial Court in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, ordering the dismantling of the barricade and allowing the entry of Oxiana Philippines and its equipment to conduct exploration operations.

"Hindi pinakinggan [ng korte] ang boses ng nakararami [sa Kasibu], kundi ang boses ng Oxiana. Hindi papayag ang mga tao na alisin ang barikada ang papasukin ang Oxiana. Dapat galangin ng Oxiana at ng goberyno ang karapatan ng mga katutubo sa lugar [The court did not listen to the voices of the majority [in Kasibu], but the voice of Oxiana. The people do not agree to the dismantling of the barricade and allow Oxiana in.

The government and Oxiana should respect the rights of indigenous peoples]," Opay said.

Bautista noted that no less than the mayor of Kasibu was opposed to Oxiana's entry.

"Oxiana has no right to enter Kasibu. First, the company did not consult the local communities or the local government units about conducting mining operations in Kasibu. Second, they lack the permits to enter private lands in the Lower Muta Valley areas that will be affected by their planned exploration activities. The Free and Prior Informed Consent [FPIC] issued by the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples [NCIP] is full of discrepancies and inconsistencies and can not be said to represent the whole of the indigenous people's communities to be affected by Oxiana's plans," Tayaban said.

"We are appealing to the national government to stop the entry of the mining project of Oxiana. The situation on the ground is very tense and could lead to a violent confrontation if state forces insist on breaking up the barricade," Tayaban said.

"It's the right of the Kasibu communities to defend their livelihood and environment against this unwanted entry of foreign mining companies. This unfolding case in Nueva Vizcaya demonstrates how the Arroyo administration continues to uphold the selfish interests of foreign mining companies over the rights and welfare of our indigenous peoples and upland communities," Bautista said.

"Kalikasan PNE and Defend Patrimony Alliance will be mobilizing network organizations to support the communities' struggle in Kasibu and will call for urgent legislative action into the case," Bautista said.

"We in Kalikasan PNE will be lobbying before solons such as Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño and Rep. Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya to initiate a Congressional inquiry into the presence of Oxiana Philippines in Kasibu," Bautista said.

"Kalikasan PNE and Defend Patrimony alliance will also be conducting a fact-finding mission in communities throughout Kasibu from August 29 to September 2, to investigate reports of human-rights violations against indigenous peoples related to the mining project," Bautista added.

Three mining companies are currently trying to get a foothold in ancestral lands in located in Nueva Vizcaya: Oceana Gold in Barangays Didipio and Papaya in the Municipality of Kasibu, Oxiana Philippines in Barangays PaO, Kakidugan, and four others in the municipality of Kasibu, and FCF Mining, Inc. in Barangay Runruno in the Municipality of Quezon/Runruno.


Itogon folk reject Anvil

Nordis - http://www.nordis.net/blog/?p=1387

19th August 2007

ITOGON, Benguet (Aug. 16) --- "Your presentations are very informative. But they cannot convince us because experience tells us differently. No matter what you say in your efforts to shed light on the issue, what our people see in before us is black."

A schoolteacher told the representatives of the transnational firm Anvil Mining, Ltd. and its local business partner, Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI), in a consultation held on the 11th of August between the two companies and the constituency of Barangay Ampucao in the Municipality of Itogon, Benguet Province. The teacher's words put an end to a two-hour debate between the small-scale miners of Ampucao and the large-scale mining company engineers regarding the impact of diamond drilling on their water sources.

While the engineers presented technical data to support their assertion that the drilling planned by Anvil would not affect the community water sources, the small-scale miners drew on their own familiarity with the mineral veins and water channels beneath Ampucao's mountains, plus their communities' past trauma from exploration drilling, to contest the engineers' claims.

Anvil is evaluating the mineral tenements that it is buying from ISRI (successor to Itogon-Suyoc Mines, Inc. , or ISMI). The plan it has drawn up for exploration drilling in these tenements threatens the water sources of several communities in northern Ampucao.

Aside from the impact on community water sources, a number of other issues attend the plans of Anvil.

The Anvil-ISRI deal

Anvil is an Australian firm that is listed in the Toronto stock exchange in Canada and that operates several large mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is among the world's major producers of copper and one of its most cost-efficient. It has just started to venture into Asia, selecting Vietnam and the Philippines for its first projects.

Anvil's sole concern in the Philippines at present is its Itogon project. It has paid ISRI a total of US$ 2.12 million as a sort of downpayment for 2,896 hectares of mineral tenements, including the Sangilo gold mine, which has lain idle for 11 years. This covers old patented claims, Sangilo mine (35 has.); old but unpatented Sangilo mining claims (582 has.); Under new Mineral Production Sharing Agreement or MPSA (317 has) and those subject of new Exploration Permit (EP) Application (1962 has.) or a total of 2,896 hectares.

Until February 2009, Anvil will be doing a detailed evaluation of ISRI's mineral tenements, and afterwards prepare a feasibility study in which it will determine the most profitable means of mining these. It expects to spend at least US$ 2 million on exploration.

Upon the transfer of ISRI's mining rights to Anvil, Anvil will pay ISRI another US$ 500,000. Once its mining becomes productive, Anvil will start paying ISRI a Net Smelter Return Royalty of 2.5% for silver, 3% for copper, and 1% to 5% for gold, depending on the prevailing gold price. Once it has recovered its first 200,000 ounces of gold from ISRI's mineral tenements, Anvil will pay ISRI a one-off production bonus of US$ 1.25 million.

In its stock market news releases of 18 August 2006 and 31 March 2007, Anvil indicated that it was banking on the geology, minerology, and mineral production history of the Itogon area to make this relatively expensive deal with ISRI worth its while.

Drill holes and open pits

According to the Anvil representatives who came to the 11 August consultation, the company's exploration plans include the installation of 13 drilling pads and the boring of 20 drill holes about four centimeters wide and a hundred meters deep for the purpose of extracting a total of 4,000 meters of core sample from the Frog Vein. The vein is situated between the tunnels of ISRI's Sangilo mine and the land surface of Ampucao and the Itogon Poblacion. According to the small-scale miners of Ampucao, their area's water table lies just beneath this vein. If punctured, the water it holds will drain into the tunnels of the Sangilo mine instead of discharging to the surface through the Pitang springs and towards the Maupa creek. These are the springs and creek that supply potable water to the households of sitios Abucay, Ampucao Proper, Cruz, Dalicno, Hartwell, Manganese, Station, Tangke, Tipong, and Upper Lolita. One of the Pitang springs also supplies potable water to sitio Lower Lolita in the neighboring barangay of Virac.

"How can we believe that with the number of holes you will be drilling, our water sources will suffer no impact?" a Dalicno elder said to Anvil's engineers during the 11 August consultation. "In 1969, ISMI damaged one of our water sources with just one drill hole. Then in the 1990s, while we weren't looking, Benguet Corporation did the same. That's how we lost Pitang 1, and why we had to seek out Pitang 2 and 3. Now, you will deprive us of these new sources."

Conceding that they might inadvertently puncture Ampucao's relatively shallow and fragile water table, Anvil's engineers told the participants in the consultation that they could undo such damage by refilling the drill holes after collecting their core samples. But a small-scale miner retorted, "If it were to end with drilling, the problem would be easy to solve. Just plug the drill holes. But if it went on to mining, the hole would be too big to plug."

"And that is where all this will lead -- mining," he continued. "Do not try to tell us differently. Do not try to tell us that you have no plans in store beyond two years of exploration. . . You are going to mine. Otherwise, how will your company recover the money it is investing in exploration? . . . And I doubt that you will engage in stoping because ISMI has already extracted the ore from Sangilo's high-grade stopes. You will do bulk mining. And for that you will need to make a very large hole."

>From the back of the hall that served as the consultation venue, a woman called out, "No to large-scale mining! No to diamond drilling!"

In fact, without his knowing, the small-scale miner had pinpointed the main problem that the Kankanaey communities of northern Ampucao would face if Anvil were to be allowed to operate in the area. Anvil is an open-pit miner. This is the main reason for its cost-efficiency in the production of copper. The holes Anvil digs are big enough to swallow entire villages.

Lulu A. Gimenez/APIT TAKO Benguet Committee/Cordillera Peoples' Alliance.


Negotiations to settle mining dispute stalled

By ARTEMIO DUMLAO, The Philippine Star - http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=89426

22nd August 2007

TUBA, Benguet -- Trouble is brewing at the Tuba mining area of Philex Mining Corp. as negotiations between the company's representatives and the villagers reach a deadlock.

After getting dispersed from their picket last week, residents are filing a petition for injunction at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to compel the mining firm to comply with the July 30 order of NCIP Regional Director Amador Batay-an for Philex to stop operations due to its failure to get a "free prior and informed consent (FPIC)" for its open pit mining operation in the area.

The FPIC is a condition man­dated by the Mining Code of 1995.

Philex got a special permit issued early this year and said it continues to find ways to obtain a FPIC.

However, a government-initiated dialogue between Philex and indigenous residents of Tuba and nearby Itogon town to thresh out the issues last week failed. Philex claimed the inclement weather was the reason for the stalled talks.

Philex was accused of being "arrogant" for snubbing a meeting set by government representatives. Kalanguya leader Rufo Gayaso, a representative of the indigenous communities adversely affected by Philex's 50-year block-caving operations, said the firm did not respect government authorities.

An invitation for a meeting was sent to Philex by Legal Officer Severino Manuel Lumiqued, of the Benguet Provincial Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan also came to attend the meeting but no Philex representatives reportedly came to the dialogue.

Instead they chose to go to another venue, which was criticized by the residents.

Victor Francisco, Philex manager for Corporate Environment and Community Relations, went to the open pit site to convince the residents to proceed to the Sunken Garden because their equipment for a powerpoint presentation could not be brought to the site due to bad weather.

The open pit is about 800 meters away from the Sunken Garden.

The residents berated Francisco for employing delaying tactics. They said the firm sends representatives who could not decide on their complaints and who are not familiar with the issues at hand.

Philex claims that it obtained a Special Mines Permit from the regional office of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) last Jan. 18 for a 98-hectare gold-rich area in Barangay Camp 3, Tuba town "while waiting for the approval of its application for mineral production-sharing agreement (MPSA) denominated as APSA 102."

The permit, however, included among its conditions getting a FPIC from the host communities, and the endorsement from the barangay or province one month from its issuance.

No FPIC had been issued by Camp 3 and the Ampucao indigenous communities. In fact, the villagers are petitioning MGB to revoke Philex's Special Permit.

Residents are also questioning an endorsement by Barangay Camp 3 officials through Resolution No. 3 on April 27, 2007, insisting that they were not consulted. They claimed officials duped them on the contents of the endorsement.


Philex 'Arrogance' Blamed for Failed Dialogue

The government-set dialogue between the Philex Mining Corporation and the indigenous residents of this town and Itogon failed due to the mining company's "arrogance," a community leader said. The dialogue was intended to address issues concerning indigenous communities' rejection of Philex's mining permit application.

BY LYN V. RAMO, Northern Dispatch, Posted by Bulatlat, Vol. VII, No. 28, http://www.bulatlat.com/2007/08/philex-arrogance-blamed-failed-dialogue

19-25 August 2007

TUBA, Benguet -- The government-set dialogue between the Philex Mining Corporation and the indigenous residents of this town and Itogon failed due to the mining company's "arrogance," a community leader said. The dialogue was intended to address issues concerning indigenous communities' rejection of Philex's mining permit application.

Appearing before Baguio-based media with several other leaders last week, Kalanguya leader Rufo Gayaso, a representative of the indigenous communities adversely affected by Philex's 50-year block-caving operations, said the company is at fault.

"The management did not respect government authorities," Gayaso said, referring to the invitation sent by Legal Officer Severino Manuel G. Lumiqued of the Benguyet Provincial Office, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The failed dialogue was attended by Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council).Lumiqued's letter specified the open pit site in Alang, Barangay (village) Camp 3 as the venue of the dialog but neither Philex nor the indigenous community members requested for a change in venue before the

August 14 dialogue. It turned out that Philex wanted it held at the covered Sunken Garden near the Philex Hospital because it prepared a PowerPoint presentation to "further clarify the issues."

"Apparently, it would be very hard for them to do it at the open pit site because there are no facilities there," Lumiqued explained. The company insisted on holding the dialogue inside the mining camp, while the indigenous communities stood their ground at the open pit site for everyone to see the actual condition of the area subject to the mining application APSA 102, he added.

Even Fongwan reportedly requested Philex authorities to give in to the request of the people but failed to convince them, Gayaso said, adding that the mining firm "has no respect for government authorities."

Despite strong rains, Fongwan was at the open pit site with Board Members Juan Nazarro, Leonardo Cayat, Eduardo Amuasen and Apolinario Camsol.

"We cannot accede to their demand because we are wary of the people they have mobilized to pressure us further into accepting their sweet talk," Gayaso explained. He said the residents of some 20 indigenous communities near the open pit and subsidence area have decided on rejecting further mining expansion, even the extension of the company's special mines permit.

Disregarding conditions in special permit

Philex obtained a Special Mines Permit from the regional office of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) on Jan. 18 this year for a 98-hectare gold-rich area in Brgy. Camp 3, Tuba "while waiting for the approval of its application for mineral production-sharing agreement (MPSA) denominated as APSA 102."

The said permit included in its conditions the acquisition of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the indigenous communities, and the endorsement from the barangay or province one month from its issuance.

Up until the failed Aug.14 dialog, no FPIC had been issued by the Camp 3 and Ampucao indigenous communities, according to Gayaso. "In fact, a petition has been sent to government agencies for the revocation of the Special Mines Permit," he added.

Barangay Camp 3 officials made an endorsement on the project through Resolution No. 3 on April 27, 2007. But the endorsement was questioned by residents as no consultations were held before the resolution. Residents claimed that their signatures were solicited for the endorsement but the officials did not explain the resolution's contents.

Mining operations result in gross environmental damage

While mining operations continue, the subsidence area is leveled off daily, lest it creates a crater that will cause irreversible damage underground. This entails a massive quarrying of the adjoining mountains to backfill the block barred down in the course of ore extraction underground.

Raymundo Tindaan, another leader who used to work inside the mines, explained that the company through the years tried to negotiate settlements on compensation for damaged properties and improvements with affected communities, but lately it identified a buffer zone, which it claimed would not be touched by the operations.

"Ngem ti pudno, uray idiay ruar ti 50-meter allowance, adu ti crack ti daga" (But the truth is, even outside of the 50-meter buffer allowance, there are many cracks on the earth), Tindaan said.

Aside from damaged property, the people also noted a drastic depletion of their water sources.

"Sulsultupenda ti danum ta ipanda iti mill a pang-arasaw ti naba" (The company siphons water for use in the mill to wash ore) Tindaan continued. He added that Alang water is not enough that the company even accessed the water at Brgy. Sta. Fe in Ampucao and directed it through a tunnel to its mining site.

The community estimated that the damaged area, now referred to as an open pit, now measures about 100 hectares.

Santos Mero, deputy secretary-general of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) said mining is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's top priority. "With the government hell-bent on attracting foreign investments into the mining industry, expect more human rights violations against several other mining communities especially when indigenous peoples start to defend their rights," Mero said. "What more with the implementation of the Human Security Act?"

Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat


Open pit campout dispersed

Nordis - http://www.nordis.net/blog/?p=1388

19th August 2007

TUBA, Benguet (Aug. 16) ---Residents of communities from the outskirts of a mineral land being applied for a mineral production sharing agreement (APSA 102) by Philex Mining Corporation, were dispersed by company-hired security forces early morning Wednesday.

The manhandled residents were among those who camped out right at the mining site to await a scheduled dialog with company officials on August 14.

Dismayed over the arrogance of Philex management in the aborted dialog that would have finalized negotiations for community consent for APSA 102 covering the 98-hectare mineral land, some 100 heirs of claimants and residents of barangay Camp 3 here stayed put in the open pit site from August 14 until their violent dispersal during breakfast the following day.

"Ineggeman ti dua a guwardya ti maysa kadakami, bayat a dinanog-danog ti chief security officer ti siket na," (One of us was held by two guards while the chief security officer punch his lumbar area) Rufo Gayaso, an acknowledged community leader, told the media in a press conference in Baguio City on Aug. 16.

The rest were physically carried out of the premises by at least two guards and private security forces. One smaller elder Raymundo Tindaan, said he was even lifted by four men. A score were reportedly hurt, while more people were barred from passing through the provincial road leading to the communities from Philex.

"We agreed not to retaliate if when physically confronted," said Fely Pitas, an heir of the Bantasan estate, also affected by the block-caving operations of Philex.

Pitas said they were just waiting for management representatives to talk to them in a scheduled dialog.

The August 14 dialog was called by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as earlier requested by Philex for the company to clarify issues raised by the community in its statement of rejection of the company's APSA 102 on April 18, 2007.

The claimants, predominantly of Kalanguya and Ibaloy ancestry, said they are now constrained to resort to legal remedies now that Philex is bent on disregarding the processes as prescribed by the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA).

Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS


CEC asserts right to freedom of expression and public participation

Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines (CEC-Phils) Press Statement

20th August 2007

Last July 13, Lafayette Philippines filed libel raps against the Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines (CEC-Phils) for publishing a primer entitled "Rapu-rapu: A Struggle against Mining Liberalization and Plunder in the Philippines." Among the statements that Lafayette deemed libelous were our assertions that the company "engaged in the illicit sale of the Philippine natural resources, had been deceitful in reporting its production, epitomized irresponsible mining, and had caused fish kills and various ailments in the community."

Let it be known, then, that we from the CEC are most ready to face the charges, and at this point, already plead not guilty. We stand by our statements, duly-supported as they are by no less than the findings of the Arroyo-convened Rapu-rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC), and of the scientific institutions we have referred to in the publication: the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research, and of AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People).

Interestingly, Lafayette did not file a case against these entities. Instead, it sued us, a non-government organization desiring to contribute to national and local efforts to conserve and protect the environment. For 18 years, we have closely worked with grassroots organizations and organized communities in their hope to survive and defend their access to natural resources, to nurture the environment and improve their living conditions. At the national level, the Center has continuously advocated people-oriented, patriotic, sustainable and scientific conservation of the Philippine environment.

With the said objectives, CEC has stood at the forefront of campaigns for pro-people and pro-environment policies. As an NGO promoting such an environmental advocacy, CEC finds it a social and moral obligation to disseminate information on environmental issues that are of public interest, and more so, when they concern the welfare of thousands of people.

In such campaigns, it is never our intention to malign the reputation of companies like Lafayette Philippines, Inc. We simply state facts, and the facts reveal that in the case of the Rapurapu project, Lafayette indeed fell short of the standards for responsible mining.

Moreover, we invoke in our defense two universally-recognized rights that are essential in a democratic society: the right to freedom of expression and the right to petition the government. We believe that Lafayette's civil lawsuit is a threat to our rights to expressing criticism of anomalous corporate and government activities and from influencing public policy, and hereby push for the immediate dismissal of the case.

Lafayette's legal efforts cannot thwart us. Instead, we are all the more inspired to fight for the people and the environment. Together with the Filipino people, the Center for Environmental Concerns shall continue to struggle for a mining policy that will truly benefit the Filipino masses and support national progress.###

Contact Person:

Frances Q. Quimpo, executive director, 09178846325


Stop SLAPPing environmental defenders

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

20th August 2007

Green progressive watchdog Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) today noted the rise of lawsuits against environmment advocates, warning that this could be a dangerous precedent by large mining firms and landowning families to stifle opposition to their interests.

In a press conference held at Quezon City, Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista presented three case studies of non-government environmental advocates, including individuals and organizations, facing a variety of SLAPP lawsuits from foreign firms accused of engaging in environmental and anti-people practices in communities where they operate.

"SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) are lawsuits ranging from libel to conspiracy used by powerful corporate entities against non-governmental individuals or groups defending issues of marginalized sectors, such as human, labor, peasant or consumer rights, environmental protection, national patrimony and the like," Bautista said.

"SLAPPs are a form of litigation filed by usually powerful entities against less financially-capable critics with the intention of intimidating and silencing them in the course of a lengthy and costly legal battle. Environmental groups in other countries have faced SLAPPs by commercial real estate developers, companies, and the like. In the Philippines, these "powerful entities" using SLAPPs are usually foreign-owned mining or logging firms or elite land-owning families who control and extract resources from vast tracts of lands," Bautista explained.

During the presscon, the following environmental advocates from various fields shared their specific experiences on being "SLAPPed" by large firms:

l Frances Quimpo, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils), a non-government organization (NGO) facing a P10 million libel suit from Australian-owned mining company Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI). LPI operated on the Arroyo administration's flagship mining project in the environmentally-critical island of Rapu-Rapu in Albay, Bicol, which incurred two mine tailing spills and an associated fish kill in 2005. A Presidential investigative commission headed by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes later concluded that LPI engaged in irresponsible mining and recommended that the project be terminated. However, in February this year, the DENR allowed the company to resume fill commercial operations after previously allowing three extensions for LPI's "test runs".

CEC-Phils is one of the NGOs actively involved in the campaign for LPI's closure and a moratorium on mining operations in Rapu-Rapu. LPI's Philippine partners, represented by Manuel Agcaoili, President of Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc, and Bayani H. Agabin, Senior Vice-President of Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc., filed a complaint before the Pasig City Prosecutor's Office on July 9 against CEC-Phils' trustees, to answer for libel in their publication entitled "Rapu-Rapu A Struggle Against Mining Liberalization And Plunder In the Philippines". The publication was distributed when CEC-Phils visited and lobbied before Lafayette's financial shareholders in Australia last June 8.

Quimpo and the other trustees are scheduled to submit their counter-affidavits and attends the preliminary investigation tomorrow, August 21, at the Pasig City Prosecutor's Office at 2 p.m.

l Lucas Buay, an Ifugao leader and chairperson of the Council of Leaders of the Kasibu Inter-tribal Response Towards Ecological Development, narrated how at least 24 indigenous leaders in Nueva Vizcaya, representing the Ibaloi, Ifugao, Kalanguya, Bugkalot, Kankaney, and Bontoc communities, are facing the threat of arrest for opposing the entry of mining company Oxiana Philippines Inc. and its foreign partner RoyalCo, Ltd. Of Australia for mineral exploration. After hundreds of tribespeople successfully held up a barricade against the entry of the mining firm's drilling equipment last month in Barangay Pacuet, Kasibu, Oxiana filed for a temporary restraining order or/and an injunction.

Kasibu Mayor Romeo C. Tayaban said that the preliminary injunction was issued last August 17 by Executive Judge Godofredo Naui of the South District Regional Trial Court in Bayombong, Nueva, ordering the dismantling of the barricade and allowing the entry of Oxiana Philippines and its equipment to conduct exploration operations. Kasibu's communities are currently defending the barricade and possible showdown between the community and state police and military forces assisting Oxiana looms. Two other mining companies are also trying to get a foothold into ancestral lands in Nueva Vizcaya: Oceana Gold in Barangays Didipio and Papaya in the Municipality of Kasibu, and FCF Mining, Inc. in Bgy Runruno in the Municipality of Quezon/Runruno

l Ilang-Ilang Quijano, a young journalist working for Pinoy Weekly, and a finalist for the 2004 Jaime Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism, and toxicologist Dr. Romeo V. Quijano are awaiting the verdict of a civil case filed by the Lapanday Agricultural & Development Corporation (LADECO) in Davao, owned by a large landowning family and an exporter of Cavendish bananas to Japan. The Quijanos conducted studies and interviews in the pesticide-affected community Kamukhaan, a barangay of 15O families in Davao del Sur, Mindanao, and published a report on the detrimental effects of LADECO's pesticide use on the environment and people's health.

Also present at the press conference was a representative from environmental lawyer Howard Calleja's law office, and Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino, who would be looking into possible legislative actions regarding the SLAPP cases and the environmental issues outlines in the case studies.

"We deplore and condemn SLAPPs against environmental advocates. These lawsuits threaten perfectly lawful actions and constitutionally protected rights. These furthermore deflect scrutiny of the real environmental and people's issues that the respondents to the cases are fighting more," Bautista said.

The SLAPPs, Bautista added, come at a time when human rights violations and extrajudicial forms of harassment against environmental activists are also on the rise. "Kalikasan PNE documented at least 21 cases of extrajudicial killings of environmental advocates under the Arroyo administration, from 2001 to present. Usually, the victims are peasant or indigenous leaders who led the opposition to giant mining, large dam, or logging operations in rural areas," he said.

The Nicanor delos Santos Hall, where the press conference was held, was named after the Secretary-General of the group Makabayang Samahan ng mga Katutubong Dumagat and a strong critic of the Laiban dam project in his homeland of Rizal, Nicanor delos Santos, who was killed by suspected military troops on December 8, 2001, Bautista said.

"Kalikasan PNE and its sister organizations and networks will continue to support the legal battles faced by the SLAPP victims. More importantly, these lawsuits will not in any way douse or stifle the campaigns to expose and oppose the anti-people and anti-environment projects by these powerful corporations. We will continue to work for a national policy where national industrialization and genuine land reform will yield projects that will judiciously utilize and protect our national patrimony and work for the welfare of the marginalized sectors in Philippine society," Bautista ended. ###

KALIKASAN PEOPLES NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT 26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756; E-mail: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com Website: www.kalikasan.org


Watchdog group urges rejection of mining firm's permit

By Gerald Gene R. Querubin, Inquirer - http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view_article.php?article_id=83638

20th August 2007

BOAC, Marinduque -- A local environment watchdog is calling on the country's environmental officials to reject an exploration permit and Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) applied for by a mining firm seeking to operate in Marinduque.

The exploration permit sought by Consolidated Mines Inc. (CMI) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources covers almost 2,458 hectares in the villages of Bocboc, Butansapa, Magapua, Anapog-Sibucao, Capayang and Ino in the municipality of Mogpog.

According to Miguel Magalang, executive secretary of the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns, they are against the issuance of the exploration permit and an MPSA to avoid a repeat of the 1996 Boac River Mining Disaster, when up to 20 million cubic meters of floodwaters, mine wastes and silt spilled into the Boac River from the open pit of the Marcopper mining company.

"We have been firm with our stand to deny any forms of mining activities in the province because we believe that despite claims of new technologies in mining, there is no assurance that the 1996 disaster will not happen again," Magalang said.

"As responsible stewards of environment and protectors of our citizens, we will continuously block any move to tamper our fragile ecosystem. The people of Marinduque are in solidarity in our campaign for a mining-free province," he added.

Magalang also claimed the CMI has not been a good corporate citizen of the province and still owed the local government and its former workers. The firm used to operate a copper mine in the town of Mogpog during the 1960s and 1970s.

A statement from the group said that, after 30 years of hosting large-scale mining projects, Marinduque remains one of the only seven fourth-class provinces in the country, ranked the 14th poorest province of the Philippines and the third in most denuded forests, with a high poverty incidence rate of 71.9 percent.

"The Marinduque experience should be a reminder to the national government and a wakeup call to other provinces, lest they fall into the trap of 'economic miracles' promised by mining projects, especially with the major thrust of the current administration to revitalize mining in the country," Magalang said.

He reiterated that they were in unity with other anti-mining groups in rejecting the transfer of the Philippine Mining Development Corp. from the DENR to the Office of the President.

"It is clear that there is a shortcut on social acceptability on mining operations with this setup," Magalang added.


Villagers told to keep watch over closed mining site

By Tonette Orejas, Inquirer - http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view_article.php?article_id=83674

20th August 2007

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO , Philippines -- No landslide or water spill has occurred at a closed mining site in Zambales following strong rains by typhoons "Chedeng" (international codename: Pabuk) and "Egay" (Sepat).

However, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Luzon has advised the Dizon Copper-Silver Mines Inc. (DCSMI) to step up measures to reduce the hazard to lives and environment in San Marcelino and Castillejos towns, a report from the agency's regional office showed.

The MGB said it is concerned with the conditions of the Kaline pit, Bayarong tailings dam and the Camalca silt dam at the DCSMI's site in the upland village of Buhawen in San Marcelino.

"These have held on but the hazards still remain," said Edgardo Zapata, MGB senior environmental management specialist, in a phone interview on Monday.

The agency continued to assess the situation at the mine site in compliance with a Department of Environment and Natural Resources memorandum to conduct "strict monitoring of all environmentally damage-prone areas in the country," Zapata and senior science research specialist Nixon Dalapus said in their report.

A close watch was needed because, according to the report, the open pit had collapsed before 1997, prompting the DCSMI and its partner, the then Benguet Consolidated (now Benguet Corp.) to stop mining after 18 years of operations. The pit was the major source of ore.

The tailings and silt dams, on the other hand, had breached at various times before and after Mt. Pinatubo 's 1991 eruptions, causing overflows and breakout of mine wastes that contaminated the Mapanuepe Lake and its tributaries.

At least five communities of Aeta and upland farmers had complained about the pollution of their fishing grounds and irrigation sources since 1998.

The DCSMI has so far done "selective maintenance" on the structures, "particularly the Bayarong tailings dam," the report said.

In July, the MGB recommended repairs mainly on the two dams to "prevent further siltation of the downstream areas." The mine site is about 2 kilometers from San Marcelino and Castillejos where 200,000 people live.

Barangays Buhawen, a former village of mine workers, and Camalca are the nearest areas to the mine site.

"It is evident that some physical hazards exist in the mine site of DCSMI. The wall of Kaline pit showed active landslides. The pit is presently filled with water and the level of which [is] 3 meters below the pit spillway," the report said.

A member of the Dizon family said while the company had planned corrective measures before closure, the repairs had been slowed by business feuds among the heirs of Don Celestino Dizon, the first person to stake mineral claims in the area in 1935.

 

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