MAC: Mines and Communities

Foreign Mining Giants Will Bring About A State Of Calamity In Rp

Published by MAC on 2007-06-04
Source: Defend Patrimony ()

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

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