MAC/20: Mines and Communities

From Mindex to Crew: The Struggle Continues

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01


From Mindex to Crew: The Struggle Continues

by Evelyn Cacha

ALYANSA LABAN SA MINA (ALAMIN), July 29th 2000

We are reiterating our strong opposition to Crew Mineral Philippines' Mindoro Nickel Project.

Formerly owned by Mindex Resources Development, Inc., Crew Development Corporation acquired the Mindoro Nickel Project through a merger in September 1999. Crew, a "junior" Canadian mining firm controls 97.7 % of the merger.

Crew is publicly listed in stock exchanges in Toronto, Vancouver, US, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Oslo. The company is producing eight different metals from seven mining operations and has exploration and development properties in six countries. Crew Mineral Philippines is the company's subsidiary in the country.

Mindoro Nickel Project is a 9,720-hectare proposed mining operation in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. The operation will be producing 40,000 tons of nickel and 3,000 tons of cobalt a year. The proposed processing plant will be located in Barangay Pili in Pinamalayan. Four million tons of mine wastes are expected to be dumped through Submarine Tailings Disposal method.

Crew is now in the process of conducting the Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA). Kvaerner Philippines Construction, Inc. is commissioned by Crew to handle the bankable feasibility study while Woodward-Clyde will prepare the EIA. The result of the EIA will be submitted by CREW as the Environmental Impact Statement, a pre-requisite for the granting of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). An ECC is mandated by law before any company can operate.

The Mindorenos have already shown their non-negotiable resolve to block the entry of this mining operation. Through ALAMIN, the people from cross-sectors found their collective strength and expression and bonded together to oppose this impending disaster to the people and the environment.

The people have already staged eight mass actions attended by 40,000 Mindorenos. We have, so far, gathered 65,000 signatures strongly opposing the project. Dozens of resolutions from the different sectoral organizations have already been forwarded to the Environmental Management Bureau, the agency that evaluates mining applications.

Local Government Units have also expressed their opposition to the project. The Provincial Governor categorically announced his strong opposition. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed Resolution No. 259-99. Similar resolutions were passed by the Sangguniang Lungsod of Calapan, the Sangguniang Bayan of Naujan, Victoria, Pola, Socorro and Pinamalayan and the League of Municipal Mayors in Oriental Mindoro.

But these expressions of overwhelming opposition are not enough to scare Crew to abandon its plan. The hunger for profit is the primary driving force for the company to go on. The company will do whatever its money can buy to pursue the mining operation. Crew is even resorting to cheap black propaganda hoping to discredit the opponents of the project.

In an undated letter sent to President Joseph E. Estrada, Crew Country Director Arne Isberg maliciously imputed that ALAMIN is connected to the communist New People's Army. In the same letter, Isberg is requesting the President to deploy military personnel in Victoria to ensure Crew's security in pursuing the project. "In the absence of proper security", Isberg adds in his letter, "the company regrets to inform that we will have to reevaluate the proposed 700MUSD investment." That sounds blackmail.

We initially refused to dignify the accusation. But after the recent re-deployment of the PNP Special Action Force in Victoria, and after linking us to the NPA, we fear for the security of our organizers and supporters in the area. Our lawyers are now studying legal actions against Crew Mineral Philippines regarding this issue.

This black propaganda by Crew against us will not prosper. We are expecting more of this as our struggle against Mindoro Nickel Project heightens. Within the bounds of our constitutional rights, we will assure Crew that it will never be able to operate any mining activity in this island.

At present, ALAMIN is strengthening and expanding further its grassroots support. We have existing chapters in Calapan City, Victoria, Socorro and Pinamalayan. We will be formalizing our chapters in Baco, Naujan, Pola and Roxas. And eventually, chapters will be established in the remaining seven municipalities of Oriental Mindoro in line with our resolve to oppose all the large-scale mining applications in the province.

We will never compromise the integrity of our environment and the safety of our people. We will never compromise the right of the indigenous Mangyans to their ancestral domain and the right of the farmers and fishermen to their resource base that will be affected by the mining operation. We will never compromise the right of every Mindoreno to a healthy and livable environment.

And lastly, we will never betray our oath to the generations yet to come, they who will be the heirs to all the decisions that we make now.

Sourced: Evelyn Cacha
Chairperson, ALAMIN, Press Statement July 29, 2000

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