MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines DENR Suspends Mine Exploration Operations

Published by MAC on 2001-10-17

Philippines DENR Suspends Mine Exploration Operations - October 17 2001

By Donna G. Brazas - Manila Times

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources yesterday ordered the suspension of exploration activities of an Australian gold and copper mining company in Nueva Vizcaya after it discovered that the project is not socially acceptable.

Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez earlier suspended the financial and technical assistance agreement of Climax-Arimco Mining Corp., the first mining firm granted an FTAA since Republic Act 7942, or the Mining Act, was enacted in 1995.

"CAMC will have to stop any exploration in the area covered by the FTAA until such time that issues raised against it are resolved and that a favorable endorsement of the project is secured from concerned local government units," he said.

The FTAA allows CAMC to explore mineral resources in some 37,000 hectares covering the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

Alvarez said the project is not socially acceptable and is located inside the Addalam River Watershed, which he cited as grounds for the suspension.

The project is facing stiff opposition from residents and some
non-government organizations.

Aside from being rejected by the National Economic Development Authority regional development council, the project's memorandum of agreement might also encounter a recall.

The Commission on Elections has yet to resolve a petition filed by
residents of Barangay Didipio, Bayombong town, seeking a plebiscite on the barangay initiative denying the MOA entered into by CAMC and barangay officials.

Alvarez said the project proponent failed to secure the necessary
endorsements from concerned local government units.

In July last year, Alvarez revoked the mineral production and sharing
agreement (MPSA) of the Canadian Aglubang Mining Corp. covering a 2,290 hectare area in Victoria town, Oriental Mindoro, for the operation of a controversial nickel mining project.

© Copyright 2000. The Manila Times. All Rights Reserved.

DENR Chief Told to Cancel ECC of Miner - October 20 2001

The Legal Rights and Natural Resource Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friend of the Earth Philippines urged Environment Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez to immediately cancel the environmental permit of Climax Arimco Mining Corp. (CAMC) for its Nueva Vizcaya exploration activities.

The advocacy group believes that cancellation should have been the "more apt and decisive thing to do" instead of just suspending CAMC's exploration activities.

"We expected more. The grounds he cited are actual grounds for the
cancellation of environment compliance certificate (ECC). We see no point why he cannot revoke it," LRC Luzon coordinator Judy A. Pasimio told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview. "He has the legal basis to cancel the ECC. The grounds he cited for the suspension are actual grounds for the cancellation of the ECC. These are stipulated in the conditionalities in its issuance."

With the environmental permit or ECC, the company cannot continue with its operations. The permit outlines specific measures the miner should adopt to ensure its operations are environmentally sound.

Mr. Alvarez suspended CAMC's exploration activities in the Didipio
Gold/Copper Project in Didipio, Kasibu Nueva Viscaya. He wrote to CAMC country manager Paul J. Joyce that the project, aside from being located inside the Addalam River Watershed, is not social acceptable, a prerequisite for the ECC.

"The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has not yet resolved the petition filed by a group of residents of Barangay Didipio seeking for the issuance of a Comelec resolution to set the date for a plebiscite on the barangay initiative denying the concurrence to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and between CAMC and the Barangay Didipio community," Mr. Alvarez wrote last Oct. 11.

Mr. Alvarez also said the project may "adversely" affect the watershed. He cited a resolution of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region II, rejecting the project due to its location.

"CAMC is refrained from undertaking any exploration in the area... until such time that the above issues are resolved and that the favorable
endorsement of the project by the Sangguniang Bayan and Panlalawigan concerned are secured," Mr. Alvarez said.

Though the group recognizes the Mr. Alvarez's discernment on social
acceptability, Ms. Pasimio said, the suspension can still be lifted.

The advocacy group said Mr. Alvarez did not mention the "bigger issue" of the constitutionality of the mining contract or the financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) covering the exploration site. It said the FTAA is unconstitutional as it gives the right wholly to a foreign company to explore, exploit and manage Philippine mineral resources.

Ruby Anne M.Rubio



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