MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Filipino Miners 'supporting' New People's Army Militants

Published by MAC on 2007-04-19
Source: Mining Journal

Filipino miners 'supporting' New People's Army militants

Mining Journal

19th April 2007

EXTORTION threats against Filipino based mining firms operating in the highly-prospective Mindanao Province has forced them to supply local terrorists with food in order to explore safely in the region.

The government is now considering military action, amid widespread fears the actions by militant communist group New People's Army (NPA), could jeopardise hundreds of millions of dollars in possible foreign mining investment.

Mines and Geoscience Bureau regional director Edilberto Arrez, confirmed companies were paying the communist-based militant group with goods such as rice and fish to avoid retribution. He said overseas investors had yet to be targeted, although an Australian-based company recently had its compound razed during a fatal attack at its Masbate project. The MGB was "talking to the military about how to solve the problem" Mr Arrez said.

Bureau figures showed exploration activites in Mindanao had soared by 50% in the past 12 months.

Mr Arrez said he feared NPA activities would drive investors from the region unless the government acted.

Philippines Chamber of Mines spokesperson, Nelia Halcon, said the country's president had appointed key officials from the Mineral Development Council and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to address the Mindanao problem. She insisted NPA activities were "not a major setback to" the mining industry. Brigadier general Carlos Holganza said that the military was moving more troops to the region, but denied that the NPA was gaining strength

.The NPA has attacked two mining firms in the past month. On March 21, 60 NPA rebels attacked an unnamed mining company in Surigao del Sur, overwhelming guards and destroying radio equipment. Earlier this month a policeman was killed when rebels razed the compound of Filminera Resources Corp, a subsidiary of Australia's CGA Mining Ltd, in Masbate, leaving behind improvised landmines and grenades.

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