MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2007-12-07

Philippines Update

7th December 2007

Many Mines and Communities editors (those who edit this website) recently participated in a ining conference and skill-share, held in the Philippines capital Manila and Nueva Vizcaya province.

The opening speaker, Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., eloquently addressed the problems caused by the industry in his country. And, as if to illustrate his point, President Arroyo called once gain for an end to all obstacles to her government's promotion of large-scale mines, even while her 'flagship' project at Rapu Rapu ran into further difficulties.

This venture now seems to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy following yet more financial woes and accusations of fish-kills. A so-called "cornerstone investor" (not to be confused with a private equity investor of that name) has apparently not been hooked - leaving SEASAF, the joint Malaysian-Standard Bank Fund, floundering.

The Norwegian Ambassador has been investigating complaints made against Crew Minerals, while opposition mounts to Xstrata's huge Tampakan copper project.

Following the shooting of a protester on October 3rd, by the security head of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC), it now seems that the company want to take out a legal case against those whose present at that [protest.

In Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, the army is driving out indigenous peoples, allegedly to clear the area of rebels, but also conveniently displacing people from land coveted by mining companies.

Mining blacklist

BIG DEAL, By Dan Mariano, Manila Times

28th November 2007

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has urged the government to look into the background of foreign mining firms before allowing them to operate in the country. The Senate minority leader wants authorities to “ensure that the mining companies will not bring ecological disasters and not frustrate the promise of mining ventures as a source of investments, job opportunities and wealth for the nation.”

Pimentel’s call came in the wake of reports on foreign mining companies—that violate environment regulations in the countries where they operate—are eyeing projects “spread across Cordillera and Mindanao.”

The Arroyo administration sees foreign investments in the mining industry as key to fueling economic growth. However, Pimen­tel said “whatever economic gains that will be derived from mining cannot compensate for the destruction of vegetation, pollution of rivers and other water sources and displacement of tribal communities that mining operations all too often cause.”

Pimentel cited the case of BHP Billiton—a foreign mining giant that plans to operate in the Philippines—that reportedly dumped 80,000 tons of rock mine tailings filled with toxic heavy metals such as copper, zinc, cadmium and lead directly into the Fly and Ok Tedi rivers in Papua New Guinea.

Quoting reports, Pimentel said the dumping of toxic mine tailings into the rivers has ruined the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of farmers, poisoned some 2,000 square kilometers of forests and contaminated two of Papua New Guinea’s largest river system.

A December 2004 Supreme Court decision reversed its original ruling declaring the Mining Act of 1995 unconstitutional. Since then foreign mining firms have descended to the country to exploit rich mineral deposits.

Foreigners may now, in effect, “fully own and operate mining companies here,” Pimentel noted.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has projected that foreign investments in mining will reach a maximum of $10 billion in the next 10 years. The Bangko Sentral reported that net foreign direct investments rose to $1.72 billion in the first 10 months of 2007, the bulk of which was poured into mining.

Protest against Lafayette mining heats up

By Rhaydz B. Barcia, Correspondent, Manila Times

6th December 2007

Albay board to review memorandum of agreement between Australian firm and provincial govt

Legazpi City: Finally the provincial government of Albay agreed to reinvestigate the fish kill incident off the shores of Rapu-Rapu a month ago and finally settle the issue.

The move came following the appeal made by the villagers from Rapu-Rapu when they stormed the session hall of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan of Albay on Wednesday.

Board Member Raul Borejon, committee on appropriation chairman, urged his colleagues to conduct a reinvestigation of the case that a closure may be reached on the controversial issue.

For his part, Board Member Niel Montallana pushed his colleagues to scrutinize the memorandum of agreement entered into between the provincial government and Lafayette Mining Ltd. during the incumbency of former Albay governor Al Francis Bichara, now a member of the House of Representatives (from the second congressional district of Albay).

Vice-Gov. Brando Sael who relinquished his chair during the session told the protesters and pro-environmentalists to allow due process. "Even though, we're doing our part in closing down the operation of Lafayette, we still have procedures to follow," he explained. "We're also checking if Lafayette was really paying their share to the government's coffer." A month ago, Sael passed a resolution for the permanent closure of the mining firm.

Sael also asked Borejon to allocate funds and commission a study of the fish kill in Rapu-Rapu. "We need an independent body to conduct a scientific study and come up with impartial findings because I'm not convinced with the BFAR and DENR findings," Sael added.

Meanwhile, some 500 villagers from Rapu-Rapu had set up camp in front of the Albay Provincial Capitol demanding that the Australian-owned Lafayette Mining Ltd. be closed down permanently. Likewise, the protesters are demanding compensation for mining-affected communities.

Members of these communities arrived at the Legazpi City pier for a weeklong Kampong Bayan (People's Camp) in front of the Albay Capitol organized by civic organizations.

Umalpas Ka-Bikol and Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa, an island-wide environmental organization of Rapu-Rapu residents, jointly organized the Kampong Bayan to be held until December 12. The camp activities will feature a nonstop program filled with daily prayer rallies, speeches of solidarity, discussions, workshops, dialogues, and cultural presentations.

This is the second Kampong Bayan and the fourth protest activity by the villagers of Rapu-Rapu following a fish kill that hit at least five barangays after the heavy rains on October 28, 2007.

Despite denials from Lafayette, the DENR and the BFAR, villagers believe the fish kill is due to the mine operations. Lafayette previously sustained two mine tailing incidents on October 11 and 31 in 2005, causing fish kills in nearby waters and affecting thousands of fisher folk in Albay and Sorsogon.

As this developed, Manila-based environmentalists urged the public to support the Kam­pong Bayan in Bicol. "We exhort all defenders of the environment and national patrimony to extend material, financial, and moral support for the Kampong Bayan initiated against Lafayette Mining Limited," Clemente Bautista Jr., National Coordinator for Kalika­san-Philippine Network for the Environment said.

Lafayette Mining Ltd. on Monday announced that it would be indefinitely extending the trading halt on its shares in the Australian Stock Exchange soon after a major investor pulled out of the project early this week.

"The financial losses of Lafayette's foreign shareholders pale in comparison to the losses sustained by thousands of residents in Rapu-Rapu. Around 16,500 of Rapu-Rapu's 19,000 fisher-folk residents were affected in terms of losses in livelihood," Antonio Casitas of the Sagip Isla movement said.

Bautista and Casitas urged Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and local government officials to uphold the recommendations of the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission headed by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.

It also recommended that the mining in Rapu-Rapu be subjected to a moratorium and that existing Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements in the island be suspended pending scientific and expert's favorable resolution on the issue of ecological conservation and the acid mine drainage problem.

Second group shows interest in acquiring Lafayette Mining

Manila Bulletin

7th December 2007

Another investor group is looking at acquiring majority control of Lafayette Mining Ltd (LML) following a stall in the negotiations with the previously announced Cornerstone Investor.

David Baker, managing director of LML, said he had been informed by the Southeast Asian Strategic Asset Fund (SEASAF) about talks with a number of other investors, although the Cornerstone Investor has "not yet closed the door." LML is the Australian-based mother company of the Lafayette Group in the Philippines which has a polymetallic project in Rapu Rapu, Albay.

SEASAF arranged a $ 15 million investment in LML convertible notes and has been keeping in touch with a number of potential investors for a major restructure of Lafayette and the Rapu Rapu project.

SEASAF in essence wants Lafayette and the project to be debt-free and hence financially stronger. It has proposed to the potential investors to buy the existing project debts and hedges at a negotiated discount.

"If those proposals proceed, the funds that we would in the future have to allocate to servicing loans could be made available to the Philippine project instead and to the Rapu Rapu community and its residents," said Baker.

The project directly employs approximately 1,000 people, most of whom are from the island itself. It also conducts various activities designed to improve life on the impoverished island for residents. These valuable community activities range from raising the quality of education to providing livelihood projects and basic necessities such as roads, water, and electricity.

Despite these efforts, militant anti-mining groups and some Church personalities have been asking for the closure of the project and had even accused it of causing an alleged fishkill that was more than 10 kilometers away.

Investors back out of Arroyo's flagship mining project in Rapu-Rapu - Green groups call for end to financially-devastated, ecologically-destructive mine ops

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

3rd December 2007

Environmentalists today welcomed news of an investor pull-out and a trading halt by Australian-owned firm Lafayette Mining Limited this weekend, hoping that this would signal the beginning of the end for the Arroyo administration's flagship mining project in Rapu-Rapu island in Albay.

" This development is a tactical victory over Lafayette. The investor pull-out comes in the wake of strong protests by Rapu-Rapu residents and environmental groups to stop Lafayette's mining operations as well as a devastating fish kill last October which is widely believed to be related to the mine project," said Clemente Bautista, Jr., National Coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) in a statement.

" The local, national, and international lobbying efforts and struggles of Rapu-Rapu residents and their supporters from environmental and fisherfolk groups is bearing fruit. We hope that this spells the beginning of the end for Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu," Bautista said.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Nicholas Ong, Senior Adviser at the Australian Securities Exchange in Perth, and dated 30 November 2007, Lafayette Mining Limited requested for an immediate trading halt in its securities after a new investor group, which initially planned to buy the company out of is debt obligations of 269 million US$, announced its pull-out in the Rapu-Rapu mine project.

The trading halt is expected to last until today, December 3, the letter said. Early in October 2007, Lafayettte announced a "major restructuring" and "recapitalization" of the project, which essentially is a buy out of the bank lending group by a new 'Special Purpose Vehicle' jointly owned by South East Asian Strategic Assets Fund LP (SEASAF), a Malaysian private investment firm, with a Cornerstone Investor. Under the preliminary agreement, the SPV will buy all outstanding debt, capitalized interest and fees owing by the project to the bank group. The SPV will purchase this for a proposed sum of 123 million US$ (50 percent of face value).

"Cornerstone Investor's pull-out from the deal only and Lafayette's crippling debt obligations only unmasks how weak and financially unstable the Rapu-Rapu mining project really is. It is another reason why Lafayette's mining project in Albay should be terminated immediately. Lafayette is not only guilty of environmental destruction, it is also in a state of financial devastation and must be stopped in its tracks ," Bautista said.

"Lafayette is already in the red and should have no business continuing with its mining operations on such doomed financial straits. As of June 30, 2007, Lafayette is near bankruptcy. Based on its annual report, Lafayette has a total liabilities of A$348,300, 418.00 with a net loss of A$224,507,576. In 2006 it has a net loss of A$172, 202, 840.00," Bautista said.

Rapu-Rapu residents, meanwhile, vowed to launch more intense and massive protest actions calling for the immediate closure of the mine.

Antonio Casitas of Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa (SISK), a local community organization of Rapu-Rapu residents, promised no let-up in current local protest actions against Lafayette, which included protest rallies in front of the municipal hall in Poblacion since the November fish kills.

"Tuloy tuloy ang laban hanggang mapaalis ang Lafayette sa isla ng Rapu-Rapu" (We will continue to fight until we expel Lafayette from the island of Rapu-Rapu), Casitas said.

Lafayette incurred national and international controversy after causing two mine tailings spills that led to fish kills in October 11 and 31 in 2005. The mine has been in operation since February 2007 and has been planning to extend its operations into other areas of the island--developments which have been strongly opposed by the communities to be affected.

Mr. Clemente Bautista, Jr. Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator ( 0922-844-9787 )
Mr. Antonio Casitas, Spokesperson, Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa, Rapu-Rapu

Greens hail 'end' of Australian mining project in Rapu-Rapu

By Nora O. Gamolo, Senior Desk Editor, Manila Times

5th December 2007

ENVIRONMENTALISTS welcomed news of a trading halt of Australian-owned firm Lafayette Mining Limited this weekend, believing that it signals a possible end to its controversial mining operation on Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay.

The environmentalists have never let up in their opposition to the flagship mining project on Rapu-Rapu island that has allegedly resulted in at least two mine spills and three fish kills since 2005.

The firm was also the subject of a controversial report commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2006 that detailed environmental damages it had wrought, and allegations of faulty reporting of the company's income that undercut the value of excise taxes it paid to the Philippine government.

Lafayette Mining Ltd. advised a trading halt in the Australian Stock Exchange from November 30 to last until December 3.

The company later decided to continue to suspend trading beyond December 3, with no date indicated to resume trading.

In another letter released on December 4, the Australian management advised an indefinite trading halt as the company "continues to hold discussion with its key stockholders regarding a new plan that can provide a viable basis for the company and its Rapu-Rapu project to move forward."

"This development is a tactical victory over Lafayette. The investor pullout comes in the wake of strong protests by Rapu-Rapu residents and environmental groups to stop Lafayette's mining operations as well as a devastating fish kill in October which is widely believed to be related to the mine project," said Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, in a statement.

In a letter addressed to Nicholas Ong, senior adviser at the Australian Securities Exchange in Perth, and dated November 30, Lafayette Mining Ltd. requested an immediate trading halt in its securities after a new investor group announced its pullout from the Rapu-Rapu mine project.

An investor group had initially planned to buy the company out of its debt obligations of A$269 million, but this apparently fizzled out.

Early in October 2007, Lafayette announced a "major restructuring" and "recapitalization" of the project, which is essentially a buy-out of the bank lending group by a new "Special Purpose Vehicle" (SPV) jointly owned by South East Asian Strategic Assets Fund LP, a Malaysian private investment firm and Cornerstone Investors.

Under the preliminary agreement, the SPV will buy all outstanding debts, capitalized interest and fees owed by the project to the bank group. The SPV will purchase this for a proposed sum of $123 million (50 percent of face value).

Bautista said, "Cornerstone Investor's pullout from the deal only and Lafayette's crippling debt obligations only unmask how weak and financially unstable the Rapu-Rapu mining project really is. It is another reason why Lafayette's mining project in Albay should be terminated immediately."

As of June 30, Lafayette is "near bankruptcy." "Based on its annual report, Lafayette has total liabilities of A$348,300,418, with a net loss of A$224,507,576. In 2006, it had a net loss of A$172,202,840.00," he added.

Rapu-Rapu's expected suspension of its operations will directly affect 300 workers, only 5 percent of whom are considered regular, and the rest contractual, based on a survey conducted by Ibon Databank.

Rapu-Rapu residents, meanwhile, vowed to launch more intense and massive protest actions calling for the immediate closure of the mine.

Antonio Casitas of Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa, a local community organization of Rapu-Rapu residents, promised no let-up in current local protest actions against Lafayette, which included protest rallies in front of the provincial capitol in Legazpi City and before the municipal hall in Poblacion since the November fish kills.

Groups opposing the mining plant's operations are planning to hold starting today, December 5, a third Kampong Bayan or protest encampment to pressure the Rapu-Rapu town government and Albay provincial government to ensure the mine's full closure.

They are also pressuring the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to release their findings on the third fish kill, which happened in end-October.

Lafayette became controversial after allegedly causing two mine tailings spills that led to fish kills on October 11 and 31 in 2005.

It started operation again in February 2007 after making some 36 corrections in the plant's operations. Months ago, the plant planned to extend its operations to other areas of the island, all moves of which were strongly opposed by affected communities.

This end-October, another fish kill occurred again, which for environmentalists signaled a possible lapse in the firm's antipollution measures. More than 1,000 fishers were affected by the three fish kills that had hit the island.

Bishop appeals for help for Rapu-Rapu fisherfolk


26th November 2007

LEGAZPI CITY -- Legazpi Bishop Lucilo Quiambao Sunday appealed for help for the fisherfolk of the mining town of Rapu-Rapu in Albay after the provincial board issued a resolution declaring a state of calamity in all of the town’s villages due to a fishkill late last month.

The resolution, which Quiambao read in his homily during a Sunday morning Mass at the Parish of St. Raphael here, said the declaration was made because of the “demoralizing socioeconomic and psychological effect and impact of the Oct. 28 fishkill.”

The state of calamity was declared because the fishkill affected not only the fishermen but also 80 percent of the residents of the municipality who became “scared of eating salt-water produce from its municipal waters,” the resolution added.

Quiambao echoed the appeal by the municipal councilors who stated that the fisherfolk were in need of immediate financial and food assistance from government and international funding institutions and other nongovernmental organizations.

The eight councilors who signed the resolution dated Nov. 14 were Josue Galicia, Jun-Jun Berjuega, Larry Batas, Giovanni Guapo, Wilson Guianan, Marino Barranda Jr., Erasmo dela Cruz and Noel Dagsil.

Rapu-Rapu Mayor Dick Galicia has provided 45 bags of rice to the Sta. Florentina Parish in Barangay Poblacion in Rapu-Rapu for distribution to those residents affected by the fishkill.

The local government unit, however, could not afford to provide long-term assistance for the residents affected by the fishkill whose cause has yet to be determined, added the resolution.

When Typhoon “Mina” (international codename: Mitag) threatened to make a landfall in Bicol, 372 families or 1,860 persons evacuated from Rapu-Rapu town in Albay.

The evacuees came from Barangay Poblacion, also the village where the string of dead fish was reportedly found during the fishkill.

The Lafayette Philippines Inc. has mining leases that cover 80 percent of the island town. Gina Rodriguez, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Sibuyan Anti-mining Advocates SLAPPed

Sibuyans Against Mining, Press Release

28th November 2007

The fight of Sibuyanons against the operations and entry of mining companies created more tensions when subpoenas were served to picketers who joined the infamous October 3, 2007 protest in Sibuyan Island, Romblon in which environmentalist councilor Armin Marin was slain by Mario Kingo, chief of security of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC). The complainant, Mario Kingo, accused 85 advocates of grave coercion: Engr. Jennie Chan, Edgar Villanueva, Marie Ann Roldan, Norbert Rubio, Elma Galicha including 14 elementary teachers, witnesses in the killing and unnamed protesters. The accusation was supported by an affidavit of former Espana village captain Ludilyn Montojo.

A public school teacher said that teachers who were accused shall not be afraid because it is a responsibility to protect the future of the pupils, it is their ultimate call as teachers?to lead them to a better future.

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Phils. (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils.) considers the case filed against the advocates as example of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP). The term SLAPP suit originally came from the United States, as ?a strategy employed by mining corporations to practically suppress the opposition and resistance of communities.

The move of SNPDC to scare advocates through SLAPP is a countercharge action to the opposition of Sibuyanons. However, Sibuyanons will not give up in their opposition. The martyrdom of Armin Marin resulted in a stronger advocacy against mining.

SNPDC is the local partner of an Australian junior Pelican Resources partnering with the world's largest mining company BHP Billiton in its nickel mining operation in Sibuyan Island.

In a recent Senate committee hearing on mining, held on Monday, November 26, 2007, Region IV-B OIC DENR Regional Dir. Rolando de Jesus said that there are 12 large-scale mining applications for the whole Sibuyan Island. Documents from the DENR shows that there are three exploration applications of Czarstone Mining Corporation affecting four villages in San Fernando town, Filipinas Top Rock Mines and Development Inc. affecting two villages in the same town, and Mr. Rommel Ibuna affecting five villages in the Magdiwang and two in Cajidiocan.

Furthermore, after a discussion on Mabini village mining, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile suggested that the operation should be cancelled due to the violation of the Small Scale Mining Act of 1991 prohibiting the use of heavy equipment. They also criticized de Jesus of not actively monitoring the mining applications and operations in Sibuyan Island specifically the involvement of large and foreign mining companies in small scale mining operations that violates same law.

Meanwhile, joining Sibuyanons and the whole Filipino anti-mining advocates are the delegates from over 20 countries worldwide to the Interdisciplinary Conference on Mining in Asia-Pacific being held today at the University of the Philippines.

Norwegian envoy probes mining firm in Mindoro Oriental

Robert A. Evora, Manila Bulletin

21st November 2007

CALAPAN CITY — The government of Norway, expressing concern on reports in that country about alleged "resistance" of residents to proposed operations of a Norwegian-run mining company, has sought the help of its diplomatic mission in the Philippines to check the activities of the mining company and determine if the "negative" reports were accurate.

The fact-finding mission was led by Ambassador of State Thorstein Rissa of the Royal Embassy of Norway. It will verify the truth on the negative publicity in Norway that the proposed mining operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project of Crew Minerals, Inc., was "being strongly opposed" by a cross-section of Oriental Mindoro’s population.

He told local government officials that the government of Norway has directed him to proceed to this province in view of the negative publicity.

Two documentaries broadcast by a number of TV stations in Norway presented "strong resistance of the people of Oriental Mindoro against the activities of the Crew Minerals, Inc.," Rissa told Oriental Mindoro Gov. Arnan C. Panaligan. The documentaries carried film cuts of actual interviews with local officials, from the barangays, town and city officials, up to the provincial governor.

A number of NGO and church leaders, not to forget the indigenous sector represented by Mangyans, were all present and voicing their disapproval to the mining proposal.were also shown. The local Catholic church leadership, under Bishop Warlito I. Cajandig, and who was joined by the Apostolic Vicar of Calapan, were also shown expressing their strong resistance to the proposed mining operation.

The TV interviews also showed the Mangyans, Mindoro’s indigenous community, are opposing the mining project because it encroaches on their ancestral lands, which they have been fighting for for several decades now.

In the wake of the alleged resistance and opposition of the local community, Norway media groups took to task the Crew Minerals, Inc. .

"Because of this, the government of Norway sent me here to find out if the reports are true," Ambassador Rissa told the Oriental Mindoro provincial official.

The Oriental Mindoro Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has urged three Mindoro congressmen, in a resolution, to "sponsor or cause the passage of a legislative measure declaring the area around and between Aglubang-Ibolo Rivers as critical and protected watershed areas."

The area in question lies in the middle of the mine site of the Mindoro Nickel Project in Barangay Villa Cerveza, in Victoria.

Copies of SP Resolution No. 226-2007 were furnished Rep. Rodolfo G. Valencia and Rep. Alfonso V. Umali, Jr., of the first and second congressional districts of Oriental Mindoro, respectively, and Rep. Amelita C. Villarosa, of Occidental Mindoro.

The said area, according to SP Members Humerlito A. Dolor, Ernesto E. Liwanag, and Romeo G. Infantado, comprising 33,000 hectares will give refuge to wild flora and fauna, while its rivers will be utilized for irrigation, fish farming, and other productive uses.

Gloria Makes her own Calamity "Mina"

Karapatan Press Statement

24th November 2007

As the nation prepares for the coming of typhoon Mina - the strongest typhoon to possibly hit the country this year, the US-GMA regime is wreaking havoc to the lumad communities of Caraga with its military operations for "mina" (visayan for mining). Said lumad communities sit around Andap Valley Complex where the second largest coal deposit rests along with gold and chromite. Andap Valley Complex covers the municipalities of Tago, Cagwait, Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga and San Miguel where the church, NGOs and civic groups, lumad and peasant communities actively oppose mining. Chinese investors are said to have been exploring the mountainous areas for minerals. Benguet Corp. along with other mining companies, have coal mining interests in said area.

The military operations led by the 58th IB PA started last November 1, 2007 and continues unabated until present time. Along with around 500 soldiers, it brought canons and armored personnel carriers. They set up camp in the middle of the 12 lumad communities.

Use of Schools, Medical, Religious and other Public Places for Military Purposes and Endangerment of Civilians

On November 5, at around 12:27 midnight, an unknown number of military men arrived at Simowao, Diatagon, Lianga, SDS. The teachers were awakened by soldiers asking for sleeping accommodations at the Simowao Tribal School which is run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao Sur, Inc.

Another group arrived on November 10, 2007, at around 3:00 o'clock dawn. Without the permission of the community and the teachers-in-charge, military elements set up camp at the SimowaoTribal Filipino Community School staying there for the whole day. On November 15, 2007 military men arrived in Kabuluhan, San Agustin, destroyed the lock of the teachers' cottage of the Lumad Community School and proceeded to encamp in said building.

Violation of Domicile, Threat/Harassment/Intimidation

Soldiers lived under homes, around it, even sleeping beside community members in the communities of Lagangan, Han-ayan, Mike, Km. 16, Simowao, Emerald, Panukmoan, Manluy-a in Diatagon, Lianga; Kabuluhan and neighboring communities in San Agustin, all of Surigao del Sur.

Teachers, community members, even the children were warned that if they (military) will be bombed, they will harm the civilians.

Violation of Children's Rights

Pupils aging between 7-10 years old and attending classes were not spared. They were interrogated about men bringing guns and whether elder brothers or sisters has joined the New People's Army (NPA) and that they must surrender. Military personnel who lived in the houses of residents frequently ask questions from the children on their involvement with the New People's Army.

Classes were often disrupted because of military presence. Military personnel stationed at Simowao, Emerald and Han-ayan frequently went to the Tribal Filipino Community Schools and Lumad High school and interrogated the teachers and students.

Canons have been stationed in Simowao facing the school grounds.

Hamletting; Illegal Checkpoints

The military set up checkpoints in Simowao and Emerald, the entry points of other communities. Activities of local residents were monitored. They were asked for their names, IDs and/or cedulas. Bags and belongings were checked. On November 12, 2007 at around 9:00 o'clock in the morning, military checkpoints became stricter. A list of names and cell phone numbers were made by the military. Motor drivers were asked for their names, driver's license and the engine serial numbers.

Food and other Economic Blockades

Movements and economic activities of residents were limited and monitored by the military. They were refrained from going to their farmlands and continuing their livelihood activities like rattan and abaca gathering. Military presence violated the residents' sense of security. Residents do not leave their houses at night even for waste disposal - afraid of being harmed by military personnel who stationed themselves in their homes.

Illegal Arrest; Coercion: Use of Civilians in Military Operations as Guide and/or as Shield

A certain Ritchie Enot, 19 years of age from Upper Oregon, San Isidro, Lianga was arrested by the military while he was harvesting rattan at Venus forest area. The young man was then forced to guide the military in their operations. He was only freed last November 15, 2007 after relatives demanded such from the battalion headquarters at St. Christine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Last November 16, 2007, a mute abaca farmer was seen by said military men in Purok 12, Bogbog, also of Bolhoon and was made to go with the military men in their operations.

Forcible Evacuation/Displacement

Evacuation of families from far flung communities came in trickles. Last November 12 five (5) families from Panukmoan went to Manluy-a and sought sanctuary with the community for fear of the military operation. Others from neighboring communities went to Han-ayan, Emerald and Simowao. Last November 17, more than 40 families evacuated from Magkahunao to Hanipaan, Buhisan, Sto. Nino and Kauswagan in San Agustin.

On November 21, nine lumad communities evacuated to Diatagon but around 21 families in Manluy-a, Panukmoan and Sudon were prevented by the military from going to Simowao and going with the evacuation. The three communities were only able to evacuate today, November 24, 2007 after NGO's, church people and certain government agencies intervened.

To date 11 lumad communities have evacuated to Diatagon, Lianga and San Agustin. Evacuees now total 254 families or 1,511 individuals with 492 students affected. Manmade Calamities can be stopped

With natural calamities we can only prepare for the worst, but man-made calamities brought about by military operations that threaten and endanger lives, affects livelihood and victimize thousands can be avoided.

Tropical depression Mina will pass by the country and leave after a day or two. But calamity GMA-Mina (mining operations) which is preceded by military operations will stay for a long time. It will be stamped in the lives of the people of Caraga, especially the lumad, for years to come.

Military operations should not endanger civilians!
Human rights should be respected at all times!

For Reference, contact:
Rev. Modesto Villasanta, UCCP, Spokesperson, Karapatan-SS CP. No.: 09192584146
Or Atty. Antonio Azarcon, Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) Tel. No.:
(086) 211-3492

Mankayan folk asks NCIP to stop Crescent mining exploration

Nordis -

23rd November 2007

BAGUIO CITY — Residents of farming villages in Mankayan, Benguet affected by an on-going mining exploration, petitioned the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP)-Cordillera to stop the exploration which allegedly failed to get their consent.

The regional director of the NCIP-CAR lawyer Amador Batay-an confirmed in a phone interview that there is no free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the people in relation to the Crescent Mining Development Corporation (CMDC) mining explorations in the affected communities. He added the NCIP is yet to review the residents’ petition submitted this week and the documents of the CMDC.

CMDC is conducting mine explorations at Barangays Bulalacao and Guinaoang, both in Mankayan. Eight holes are being explored by CMDC at Sitio Ca-ew in Bulalacao while drilling two more holes in Bulalacao.

Denver Tongacan, the town’s Association of Barangay Captains president and concurrently the barangay captain of Bulalacao claimed in an earlier interview that Mayor Manalo Galuten issued an order while the Mankayan council adopted a resolution on October 22 to stop the exploration which the company heeded for three days but continued the activity afterwards.

Tongacan said the CMDC was issued a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) denominated as MPSA 057-96 which covers 534 hectares in Mankayan. The MPSA was registered at the MGB-CAR on November 12, 1996 and to end on November 11, 2021. They were issued by the same office for a two-year exploration permit to start on August 14, 2006 and end in 2008.

Violation of laws?

Tongacan claimed that the affected communities never issued their consent before the issuance of the MPSA and the exploration permit.

He wonders how the MPSA and exploration permit were issued without the consent and endorsement required by the Mining Act of 1995, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 and the Local Government Code.

MGB-CAR records show that the CMDC’s MPSA was approved by the MGB national office and was forwarded to the region for registration.

When asked if there was community consent before the MSPA was issued, the source claimed it was presumed there was since it (MPSA) was forwarded to the region. The mine application was reportedly transferred by the Mankayan Mineral Development Corporation to CMDC.

The source also claimed that since the MPSA was granted, the right to explore is also included even without consent on the exploration permit as along as there was before the issuance of the MPSA.

Director Batay-an said a community consent is still needed even if the MPSA was issued prior to the enactment of the IPRA.

The IPRA mandates that the NCIP take into consideration the approval of the indigenous peoples concerned before it will issue certification prior to the grant of permit, lease, grant, or any other similar authority for disposition, utilization, management and appropriation on any part or portion of the ancestral domain.

The residents of Bulalacao and Guinaoang are Kankanaeys who are mostly dependent in farming for their livelihood. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS

Tampakan's gold and copper deposit higher than past estimates

MindaNews -

8th December 2007

TAMPAKAN, South Cotabato (MindaNews / December 7) – Estimate of copper and gold deposits here could actually be much higher than earlier reported, the new owner of the Tampakan exploration project said.

The Xstrata Copper posted a recent report on the Internet that said that new resource estimates for copper and gold deposits in the project pursued by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. were pegged at 2.2 billion tons, 10 percent larger than what was last reported in April 2006.

The management disclosed on Thursday that "this is the first resource estimate published by Xstrata Copper since it assumed management control of the Tampakan project in March 2007.”

Peter Forrestal, Xstrata Copper executive general manager for project development, said the latest finding made the Tampakan venture the largest development project in Xstrata Copper's portfolio and validated its position as one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in Southeast Asia.

The upgraded measured, indicated and inferred resource totals 2.2 billion tons at a grade of 0.6 percent copper and 0.2 grams per ton gold and contains 12.8 million tons of copper and 15.2 million ounces of gold using a 0.3 percent copper cut-off grade, the company said in a statement.

The company added that the new mineral resource estimate was taken from the 24,700 meters of drilling conducted this year. The drillings and testing also found that the deposits indicated an estimated average grades for molybdenum of 70 parts per million.

Previous estimates pegged resources at two billion tons, containing 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold at a 0.3% copper cutoff grade.

"We continue to look for growth opportunities through improvements at existing operations, acquisitions and the development of our strong project pipeline," said Forrestal, who also served as Sagittarius president. "The promising mineral resource estimate at Tampakan indicates the project has excellent potential to make a substantial contribution to Xstrata Copper's growth profile."

Xstrata Copper claims to be the fourth largest global copper producer with annual managed production of over one million tons. Its Tampakan project straddles the towns of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

"We are committed to evaluating and developing the Tampakan project in genuine partnership with the Philippine government and authorities, local institutions and our neighboring communities," he added.

Forrestal said the current focus of the company was on feasibility-related studies, "which is expected to be completed inthe second half of 2009, and on advancing its sustainable development programs with the local communities.” Xstrata Copper, based in Brisbane, is pursuing the Tampakan project, with Australian firm Indophil Resources NL. The project is strongly opposed by the local Catholic Church for fear of an environmental catastrophe.

Richard Laufmann, Indophil chief executive officer, said in a separate statement that his company was "buoyed" by the latest development in the Tampakan project. "The release overnight of a new mineral resource estimate by Xstrata Copper confirms the world-class status of, and Xstrata's commitment to, the Tampakan copper-gold project in the southern Philippines," Laufmann said.

He said "Xstrata Copper has a clear and aggressive growth strategy over the next five years, requiring nearly one million tons of annual copper production derived from greenfield projects like Tampakan."

The new resource estimate shows that the mineral resource was actually larger, after the findings were contributed by the accumulation of new drilling data, "resulting in the category of inferred resources being largely upgraded to the superior categories of measured and indicated, with significant volumes of exploration potential having been upgraded to the resource category", the Indophil statement said.

The Tampakan resource remains open in all directions, it added. Indophil has recently lifted its stake in the Tampakan project from 32.5 percent to 34 percent with agreements in place to increase that stake over time to 37.5 percent. Indophil is increasing its stake after local partner Alsons Corp agreed to sell its 5% share to the former. (MindaNews)

Tampakan yet to see FTAA copy

Sun Star General Santos

21st November 2007

TAMPAKAN, South Cotabato -- After over a decade of mining exploration activities here, the local government unit has still no copy of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement forged by the National Government and the project proponents, an official said Thursday.

Acting Vice Mayor Relly Leysa said the Municipal Council has passed a resolution last week demanding the national government to furnish the local government unit a copy of the agreement.

An FTAA certificate gives a holder exclusive rights to conduct mineral exploration in a contract area.

The original holder of the rights for the Tampakan project was Western Mining Corp. In 2001, then Environment secretary Heherson Alvarez approved the transfer of rights to Sagittarius Mines, Inc after Western Mining decided to give up the project.

"Based on the records of the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council), requests for a copy of the FTAA gained ground in 1995. But up to now, we still have no copy of the agreement," Leysa told a forum here dubbed "Talakayan 07: Mining and Mineral Industry in the Philippines."

Constancio Paye, Jr., regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, promised that his office will provide the local government unit a copy of the agreement.

Sagittarius is being backed by two foreign firms--Xstrata Copper and Indophil Resources NL.

The venture is still in the exploration stage, although a prefeasibility study conducted in September last year showed mineral deposits of about two million tons, containing 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 ounces of gold at a 0.3% percent copper cut-off grade.

The project, which is staunchly opposed by the local Catholic Church for fear of a looming environmental catastrophe, straddles the towns of Tampakan, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

Leysa said they are seeking a copy of the FTAA to know the specific benefits that will be enjoyed by the locality.

Aside from the taxes and fees, the firm has provided annual development assistance worth P1 million each to the three local government units, P1.5 million to each of the five host tribal communities and P1 million each to the five host barangays.

Sagittarius resumed the project in 2003.

5 Dead In Mindanao Landslide

Mike Cohen, Pacific News Center Correspondent

19th November 2007

A mud and rock slide in Mindanao's Surigao del Norte province, has left five miners dead. Government disaster and rescue teams are on standby on fears of more -- as hillsides in the central and southern Philippines have become unstable.

"Continuous rains and showers" lasting more than 72 hours, around a dozen landslides have been reported to the National Disaster and Coordinating Center or NDCC from across the region with fatalities reported in the Surigao del Norte area and another that are believed to have been fueled by non-stop rains.

The Philippine Weather bureau - Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has issued a tropical cyclone warning centered for a low pressure area in the region, which is, as of 7 p.m. Guam time, on Monday, 80 kilometers East Southeast of Surigao City. An active low pressure area east of Northern Mindanao has developed into a tropical depression and was named "LANDO".

The five miners, who worked for the Manila Mining Corporation were in a 'bunkhouse' that was swept away by a flash flood. Search-and-rescue operations are ongoing Monday night, to see if others were buried in the mud and rock slide.

PAGASA, had issued a warning Saturday of floods and landslides in north eastern Mindanao, explaining that the expected continuous rains brought by the low pressure area, now tropical storm Lando, would bring heavy rains to the Mindanao and Central Philippines regions.

Mining policy reforms underway


27th November 2007

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza on Monday bared the ongoing policy reforms the Department is undertaking as part of continuing efforts to revitalize the mining industry.

In a forum on responsible mining at the annual assembly of the League of Provincial Board Members of the Philippines, Atienza said the reforms are meant to correct mining practices in the past that resulted in the public's negative perception of mining and negative impacts on the environment.

He said the policy reforms will also address issues on profit sharing, environmental protection, social responsibility and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

According to Atienza, one of the major reforms being initiated by the Department is the immediate implementation of direct remittance of two percent share on excise taxes to the host local government units (LGUs).

Atienza noted the current policy of remitting all taxes to the national government has resulted in substantial delay in the disbursement of the two percent share of the local government units from the mining operation in their area.

"We will not only ensure but guarantee the release of the host LGUs' share on excise taxes directly to them," Atienza assured the league.

The DENR chief also assured that the Indigenous People's right will also be respected and protected under the current reforms and their share in the mining operations located in their ancestral land will be remitted to them through the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

"We will make sure that rights of the IPs are respected and definitely included even at the preparation stage of sustainable mining. Their share will be directed to them provided that the NCIP certifies that they are the rightful claimant to the area where the mining operation is located," Atienza explained. Another reform is transparency on paid taxes. Atienza said taxes should be paid in the area where mining is being undertaken and not where the head office is located. He explained that payment of taxes in the host municipality will facilitate easy computation of the exact share of the host local government unit.

He said that talks are ongoing with the Bureau of Internal Revenue for the agency to release to the last centavo what is due to the LGUs and IPs. The Department is also currently working on the inclusion of the president of the Provincial Board Members in the Mineral Development Council.

The DENR chief assures the league that the inclusion of their group in the council will directly address the issues and concerns about mining operations in their area. He said that the inclusion would mean direct involvement in the crafting of new policies relative to the implementation of responsible mining in the country.

"We are now working on your membership at the national level so that all these local concerns are respected and protected," Atienza said. Another reform is the strengthened partnership with the LGUs. "We will work closely with the local government units in the implementation of DENR programs and projects particularly in the field of mining," Atienza said.

Arroyo wants no more obstacles to mining

By Vincent Cabreza, Northern Luzon Bureau, Inquirer

23rd November 2007

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to make sure no more obstacles bar mining, the country’s “most misunderstood” industry, a DENR official said Friday.

In his address opening the 54th Mine Safety Conference here, Environment Undersecretary Eleazar Quinto said the industrial “misdeeds” are partly to blame for the “unsettled debate on sustainable mining.”

But since Arroyo assumed office in 2001, the industry has already proven to the world that it does not extract metals “by mining at all costs,” he said.

“We are driven [to make certain] that all the projects that come in absorb the social and environmental cost of mining. We shall not waver because that is the key to opening the gates to [industrial] revitalization. That is the only road we shall take,” he said in his speech.

Quinto said Arroyo’s marching orders to Atienza were anchored on the fact that the mining industry “is back on track.”

Glen Noble, Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief of the mineral economics, information and publication division, said $879 million in fresh capital had been fueling new mine projects since 2004.

He said government anticipates another $9.5 billion now being anticipated to finance major mine operations between 2008 and 2010.

In 2006, the industry contributed $2.05 billion to that year’s total Philippine exports, he said.

In the 1970s, mining represented a quarter of the country’s exports.

Mining has never been a large employer, but mine firms have helped boost local employment, Noble said.


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