MAC: Mines and Communities

"don't Meet Them"

Published by MAC on 2006-09-20
Source: http://n24.no/boers-og-finans/article146 ()

"Don't meet them"

http://n24.no/boers-og-finans/article1465301.ece

Published: 20th September 2006

Crew boss Jan A. Vestrum in a letter recommended his shareholders to stay away from the meeting with the indigenous leader from the Philippines.

By Lars Magne Sunnanå

This emerges from a letter sent to Crew shareholders, to which Næringliv24 has obtained access. Vestrum brushes off criticism of Crew (CRU). In his opinion, indigenous leader Ramil Baldo and his travelling companions, who are currently in Oslo to put the Mangyan people's case against the mining project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines, are not in any way representative spokesmen.

"We see this as a small group, not representative of the population, which is deliberately putting about erroneous information about the project," says Vestrum to Næringsliv24.

More news on Næringsliv24

"Conned with a cup of rice"

According to indigenous leader Ramil Baldo, the Mangyan people were conned into putting their fingerprints on a contract in return for an instant payment in the form of a cup of rice.

The contract, dating from 1999, allows Crew to extract metals from an area on the Mindoro islands, the home of the Mangyan people.

Baldo claims, however, that the indigenous people only gave their consent to the taking of soil samples. He says that Crew are digging up ancient grave sites and threatening water reservoirs in the area and that the payment Crew will make if the project proceeds to production cannot compensate for the losses his people have suffered.

"The aim is to humiliate us"

With help from The Future In Our Hands and indigenous people's organisation Philippines Indigenous Peoples Links, Baldo invited Crew's Norwegian shareholders to a meeting in Oslo on Tuesday.

Vestrum was not happy about this, as can be seen from the letter he sent to his shareholders on 8th September:

"We recommend that you do not participate in this meeting, since the aim seems to be to humiliate Crew's shareholders, management and, even more importantly, the authorities in the Philippines, by spreading erroneous information about the project."

The letter from Vestrum evidently went down well with Crew's shareholders, as Næringsliv24 has learned that only 4-5 attended the meeting, in addition to one stockbroking firm.

"The main problem is that this group doesn't accept Philippine legislation," says Vestrum. "We have obtained a licence pursuant to Philippine law and have followed it meticulously. Period."

"People affected may be against [the project]" Vestrum says new rounds of consultation will be held if Crew decides to go further with the mining project, which is still at an early stage.

"All those involved, including the local population, will be able to attend the consultations. This doesn't mean that everyone will be satisfied. There may be people opposed [to the project] amongst those who will be affected. This is no more or less dramatic than people reacting to an industrial project in Norway."

No comment on cup of rice

Vestrum refuses to comment on the allegations that Crew's agreement with the Mangyan indigenous people dating from 1999 was entered into in exchange for a cup of rice - and without the [Crew's] opposite party understanding what they were agreeing to.

"That was long before my time. I will not take a position on such allegations. The law states how one has to proceed. These are allegations that I do not recognise, because they have not been addressed to me directly."

The Crew boss thinks that opposition to such a project is natural.

"There are opponents and supporters. There are opponents of gas turbine power stations in Norway as well."

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