MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippine Community leaders call for halt to UK mining project

Published by MAC on 2006-05-16


Philippine Community leaders call for halt to UK mining project

16th May 2006

Community leaders call for halt to UK mining project

PIPLinks Press Release

Two community representatives from Mindoro Island in the Philippines have come to the United Kingdom to voice the opposition of communities to the activities of a UK-based company on their land. The company, Crew Development, is an international mining company with offices in Norway and Canada, but with its headquarters in the UK. It has plans to develop a nickel mine on the island of Mindoro, on a concession almost 100 sq km in area straddling the border between the provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. Production will involve strip mining the soil for nickel and cobalt, with reserves estimated to last for around 30 years. The company is still considering whether to dump the large amount of waste (tailings) in the sea (a highly criticised practiced called submarine tailings disposal).

Contrary to the claims of Crew, the project has met with strong and sustained opposition throughout the island of Mindoro. The mine will be on the ancestral lands of the indigenous people of Mindoro, the Mangyans, who have expressed their antagonism to the project through resolutions. This alone under Philippine law should be enough to stop the project. Also there are concerns of de-forestation, increased flooding from siltation of the rivers, the impact on endangered species, such as the tamaraw (wild water buffalo) or Mindoro crocodile, and also from how the mine waste will be disposed of.

The Provincial Governor of Oriental Mindoro, Atty Arnan C. Panaligan, the two local congressmen and the province-wide Mayors League all oppose the mine. There are clear current statements and position papers from indigenous and civil society organisations rejecting the project. There have been numerous popular rallies, with 12,000 attending the most recent. The Provincial Board in Mindoro Oriental even has passed an ordinance imposing a moratorium on all mining activities for the next 25 years as, in their view, large-scale mining would be incompatible with their provincial sustainable development plan. However, with the support of the central Philippine government, which is currently promoting mining, often against the legitimate and legally supported wished of the people, Crew is pushing ahead with the project.

The two visitors are Ramil Baldo, a Mangyan indigenous leader from the affected area, and Father Edwin Gariguez, a priest who was, at one time, acting municipal secretary to the town of Victoria where the mine is located, and is active in ALAMIN, the local alliance against the project. They are intending to meet company representatives, investors, policy makers, journalists and NGOs, in order to highlight their opposition to the project, inform potential investors of the negative impacts of mining in the Philippines and mobilise support for their efforts to prevent mining expansion, and specifically the Mindoro Nickel project.

So far Crew, which is based in Weybridge, says it does not have anyone available to meet with the visitors.

ENDS

QUOTE: “We, the people of Mindoro, demand respect for the sovereign will of our people and the recognition of our right to chart our own direction of development. Therefore, we reiterate our demand that Crew stop the proposed mining operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project.” Fr. Edwin Gariguez

QUOTE: “We the Mangyan Indigenous People in Mindoro are strongly opposing the entry of mining in our land because we will be very much affected, our land will be taken from us. We will be displaced and we have no other place to go. We owned the land from time immemorial, given to us by our ancestors, and we are determined to protect our land, because for us, land is life.”
Ramil Baldo

The visit is being organised by Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), which is a UK-based organisation active in support of indigenous peoples in the defence and promotion of their rights, and is sponsored by IWGIA in Denmark and Christian Aid in the United Kingdom.

Contact: Andy Whitmore
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
73 Thrayle House, Benedict Road, London, SW9 OXU
Email: comms@piplinks.org

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