Philippines UpdatePublished by MAC on 2006-09-11
Last week started with criticism of the Philippine government by supporters of mining, for supposedly moving from "active promotion of [mining in] the previous two years to one of cautious re-consideration of policy reforms". It ended with the government rallying behind the big companies in response. At the same time President Macapagal-Arroyo was trying to drum up new investment in mining during her visit to Europe; at the same time she was dogged by protests over the killings of political activists.
Some companies may be answering her call, since there are rumours that Rio Tinto may consider investing again in the Philippines after it publicly withdrew in the 1990s following widespread opposition by Subanon tribes of Mindanao. Yet more Chinese companies could be joining the invasion, along with Harmony of South Africa.
Lafayette's trial mining run continues to painfully stutter forward, although the Department of Environment and Natural Resources finally granted a further 60 days in the teeth of bitter local and national opposition.
Groups in Marinduque claim that mining companies are masquerading as small-scale operators to gain access to an area which was scarred - in both reaity and memory - by the Marcopper disaster a decade ago.