MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Canada-based Mining Firm Pursues Expansion

Published by MAC on 2006-07-28
Source: Manila Bulletin

Canada-based mining firm pursues expansion

Manila Bulletin -

28th July 2006

Undaunted by its problems with informal settlers, TVI Resource Development Phils. Inc. pursues expansion and acquisition plans even as it expects to generate P3.4 billion in revenues this year doubling last year's P1.7-billion revenues due to good metal prices for its gold and silver mining operation in the Zamboanga, Peninsula. Yulo Perez, TVIRDP general plant manager, said the company is already in its advanced stage of negotiations with the Privatization Management Office for its interest in the North Davao mining project.

The 26,000-hectare copper and gold mining project in Compostela Valley requires $ 200 million for its rehabilitation. North Davao has also annual potential revenue of $ 300 million.

The company is confident it can offer expertise, capability and track record to run a large scalemining operation.

The company is also pursuing its expansion for the gold and copper exploration in Canatuan with an investment of $ 23 million that would prolong its operation for six more years. The existing god and silver mine is expected to last until 2008, Perez said.

Perez said the company is sticking to its schedule for the expansion project to start commercial operation early next year.

Perez, however, admitted that the problem with the informal settlers in its 508-hectare lot in Canatuan where they have a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) is delaying some of its operations by three months.But the delays are not enough to affect its progress, he said.

The company is producing 170 ounces per day gold equivalent from its existing gold and silver mining operation.

TVIRD president Eugene Mateo said its problem with the informal settlers in its mining site was already blown out of proportion when the shanties of the remaining non-indigenous people in the area were dismantled.

"The demolition of the shanties was not done by TVI but by the legitimate IP people," Mateo said.

Mateo said the company has already paid a total of P13 million in royalty fees since the company started operations in 2004 including the P7 million in the first half of the year to 1,147 IP beneficiaries.

There are already 30 families remaining in the mining area engaged in small scale mining but most of these have already agreed to settle with TVI and be relocated to a community site prepared by the company except for the sensationalized situation of a particular couple.

The local government unit in Zamboanga has assessed the couple's shanty at P13,000 only as against the demand of the couple for P1.5 million settlement fee.

Pablo Bernardo, counsel for the Siocon Subano Association Inc. (SSAI) and an IP, said the IP association is already preparing to sue DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), a non-governmental organization, and the people behind a move to stunt the development of their ancestral domains.

SSAI claims to be the legitimate IP association in the area and composed of genuine IPs.

"Illegal small scale miners have occupied a large portion of ancestral domain," he said.

Bernardo said that DCMI has been undermining their right to choose its leaders by supporting a small group whom the IP Subanons had voted out.

TVIRD has also formally requested the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an inquiry into these recent events.

TVI's mining project is employing 650 workers including 300 indigenous people. TVIRD is 40 percent owned by TVI Pacific and 60 percent by Filipino firms.(BCM)

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