MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-06-17

Philippines Update

17th June 2006

The government decision has finally been made over Lafayette's Rapu Rapu mine. After the Bastes Commission advised the closure of the mine, the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources has instead - but unsurprisingly given their support for mining - ordered a 30 day trial period of operation. The decision has of course been criticised by many in the church, the environmental movement and other civil society groups (including the mine-affected communities on Marinduque, who suffered from the Marcopper spill). The Communist Party of the Philippines has also made threatening noises about disrupting the mine. Nationally there is still an ongoing debate about the amending / repealing the 1995 Mining Act (which was also a conclusion in the Bastes Report), and the Senate is meeting on this. Finally, away from the Rapu Rapu controversy there was some coverage in the Philippines of the visit by community representatives to the UK to lobby Crew Development over their proposed nickel mine in Mindoro.

Rebels threaten to disrupt Philippines mining operation

ABC News

14th June 2006

Communist rebels in the Philippines have threatened to halt the mining operations of the Australian firm Lafayette.

Production at the company's mine in the central Philippines was halted late last year after spills polluted rivers in the area, but the government has now allowed Lafayette to restart its operations for a 30-day trial.

A Communist rebel spokesman says action will be taken to stop the destructive operations of foreign mining corporations and has singled out the Australian company Lafayette.

He criticised the 30-day test run granted to Lafayette by the Environment Department, saying it was merely paving the way for the mining company to continue operations.

Demonstrators led by the environmental group Greenpeace massed in front of the Environment Department building in Manila, to protest against the Government's decision.

But a presidential spokesman defended the move, saying it was a balance between responsible mining and the creation of jobs for the people.



14th June 2006

BOAC, MARINDUQUE - The Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC), joins the people of Albay and Sorsogon and other environmental groups in condemning in the highest degree the recent decision of DENR to allow the re-opening of La Fayette Mining despite the damages it wrought to the rich fishing ground of the area and its continuous threat to the people and the environment.

The series of mining disasters (heavy metal contamination in Calancan Bay since 1975, collapse of Maguilaguila Siltation Dam in 1993, and the infamous Boac River Environmental Disaster of 1996) which we experienced in Marinduque due to the irresponsible operation of Placer Dome, Inc (now Barrick, Inc.) and Marcopper Mining Corporation and the inefficiency of the government's environment agencies are coming back to us as nightmares when we heard of the cyanide spill in Rapu-rapu.

But even more painful for us, Marinduqueños, is our unending quest for environmental justice which brought us to Nevada, USA to file charges against Placer Dome for dumping its responsibilities for the clean-up of the impacted environment and ecosystems, for the treatment of children whose blood were contaminated with heavy metals, and for the rehabilitation of the mining structures left un-maintained in the mine site (which now pose more dangers to the lives and properties of the people) especially now that Marinduque was confirmed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as the number one province in the country that is highly susceptible to landslides.

Similarly, the quest for justice of the people of Albay and Sorsogon fell into deaf ears and callous consciences of the people in government who vowed to uphold the Constitution, the highest law of the land which guaranteed the people's right to a balance and safe environment. We reiterate the recommendations of the Bastes Commission, which calls on the government, among others, to impose a moratorium on mining in Rapu-rapu island, and to immediately repeal the Mining Act of 1995.

No less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, HOR Speaker Jose de Venecia, former DENR Secretary Michael Defensor and DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes, in a closed-door meeting on March 10, 2006 with some of the Philippine Bishops, including our Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista, promised to have an immediate review of the said law. But nothing was heard of since then. Is this a mere ploy to appease the growing disappointment of the CBCP to the present administration as can be gleaned from the January 29, 2006 CBCP Pastoral Letter questioning the provisions of the said law?

REFERENCE: Myke R. Magalang
Executive Secretary
Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns
Boac, Marinduque
Tel: (042) 332-2713

Filipino Bishop disappointed over Lafayette mine decision

14th June 2006

Filipino Bishop Arturo Bastes has expressed disappointment at a decision to allow an Australian mining company responsible for two cyanide spills in the Philippines last year to recommence operations.

Authorities suspended operations of Lafayette Mining Ltd in November after the company twice released mining waste with traces of cyanide, a chemical agent used in extracting precious metals from the mineral ore, killing fish in nearby waterways.

Bishop Bastes, who headed a Fact Finding Commission on mining appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, last week called for the closure of Lafayette's open pit mining and mineral processing operations in Rapu-rapu island in Albay province.

The panel's two-month investigation concluded that the company was "guilty of irresponsibility for starting operations prior to the completion of environmental protection infrastructures."

But decision yesterday temporarily lifted its suspension order to check if the remedial measures put in place by Lafayette would work.

Bishop Bastes said the decision ignored the findings of scientists and the clamour of the people for the closure of the mine. "We are only recommending. Sadly, they didn't follow our recommendations. We'll wait what will happen," the prelate said. reports that Lafayette's mine was the second mining venture to start commercial operations after the Philippines Supreme Court quashed challenges to the 1995 mining law in December 2004, paving the way for full foreign ownership of large-scale mining ventures.

The President ordered the review of the mining law in March after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a statement calling for a repeal of the 1995 law.

Philippines allows Australian miner to restart operation

By Roel Landingin in Manila, Financial Times

13th June 2006

The Philippines on Tuesday allowed Australia's Lafayette Mining to conduct a month-long test run on a gold and copper mine that was shut down after accidentally spilling cyanide-contaminated waste water twice in October.

The mishap, which killed fish in nearby rivers and coastal waters, did not result in human casualties. But it fuelled environmental opposition to large scale mining that is just starting to pick up after the supreme court in December 2004 upheld a 1995 law allowing foreigners to own up to 100 per cent of mining ventures.

In January, the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines called for the repeal of the mining law, prompting Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the country's president, to look into tougher provisions on environmental and safety standards.

Lafayette's open pit mine and mineral processing plant in Rapu-rapu island, 350km southeast of Manila, was the first mining project to start commercial operations after the supreme court ruling.

Built at a cost of over $40m, the mining venture became an early test case for the government's efforts to attract up to $6bn in mining investments to revive a sector that used to account for up to a quarter of the country's exports in the mid-1980s. Philippines was once among Asia's top gold and copper producers.

Foreign investors welcomed Manila's decision to allow Lafayette's test run. "This can be very reassuring to the international mining industry," said Peter Wallace, a director of the Australia-New Zealand chamber of commerce in the Philippines.

Many investors were initially worried that the government would go too far to accommodate the Catholic bishops, who helped Mrs Macapagal survive her worst political crisis in July last year when they refused to join in calls for her resignation over allegations of corruption and poll cheating.

Apart from ordering a review of the mining law, Mrs Macapagal also formed a special commission to investigate the Lafayette mining spill and appointed a Catholic bishop to head it even after mining regulators imposed a 10m peso fine on Lafayette for operational lapses. The special body last month issued a report that urged the government to shut down Lafayette's operations and ban mining in Rapu-rapu island.

Environmentalists assail Rapu-Rapu mine re-opening

Malaya News

15th June 2006

ENVIRONMENTAL groups yesterday stormed the main office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Quezon City over its decision Tuesday to allow mining firm Lafayette Philippines, Inc. to conduct a 30-day test-run of its facilities on Rapu-Rapu island in Albay.

Defend Patrimony, an alliance of anti-large scale mining advocates, pelted the DENR office with rotten tomatoes and spray painted the vicinity with "DENR and Lafayette cohorts and plunderers!"

Greenpeace activists wore head gear resembling whale shark (butanding) to signify the marine life which they said would continue to be threatened by mining on Rapu-Rapu.

The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya) said it will contest the decision of Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes anytime this week through a petition for a temporary restraining order to be filed before an "appropriate" court.

The DENR on Tuesday lifted the cease-and-desist order imposed on Lafayette's operations in December after two mine tailings spills last October.

The DENR order ignored a recommendation of the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC) headed by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes to recall the environmental compliance certificate issued to the mining firm and a moratorium on mining operations on Rapu-Rapu.

Reyes defended the decision, saying it was the "best option" and that the temporary lifting order would be guided by "stringent conditions."

Defend Patrimony spokeswoman Trixie Concepcion said Reyes' decision was inconsistent and biased in favor of foreign interest.

"His decision shows how incapable he is in managing our resources and protecting our environment," she said.

Concepcion said the DENR has in fact said that "Lafayette project does not appear to measure up to the standards of responsible mining" and that the DENR found the company guilty of operational and management lapses.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Director Von Hernandez said President Arroyo must reverse the decision and heed the recommendations of the RRFFC which she created.

Greenpeace said the waters of the Albay Gulf where Rapu Rapu is located is a high priority site for sea turtle conservation, being home to five out of the seven known marine turtle species.

The group said the area is also an acknowledged migration path for whale sharks which are often sighted by local fishermen.

Pamalakaya said the 30-day test run would be challenged "not only in the parliament of the streets and in the court of public opinion, but also in any appropriate court."

"Secretary Reyes' penchant for environmental tragedy and unparalleled puppetry to mining giants is displayed with his latest decision. The test-run officially announces the unwarranted comeback of a destroying giant," said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Malacañang backed the decision of Reyes.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said Reyes' decision was "sound" and will lead to a "win-win" situation.

"We are confident that the DENR will closely scrutinize the test-run by Lafayette to enable the government to come up with a more definitive decision on this issue under the standards of full transparency and accountability to all stakeholders," Bunye said.

He said the one-month period is "reasonable." - Reinir Padua, Regina Bengco and Czeriza Valencia

DENR nod on resumption of LPI's operations hit

Daily Tribune

15th June 2006

A senior member of the Catholic Church yesterday blasted the Arroyo government and chided the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for allowing Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) to do a test run of its zinc and copper mining operations.

Sorsogon bishop Arturo Bastes in expressing dismay over the DENR decision, said the LPI and the DENR are no doubt "partners in crime" because despite opposition and the recommendation submitted by the Rapu-Rapu fact-finding committee (RFFCC) which he headed, DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes still allowed the Australian mining firm to do a test-run.

"I'm really disappointed and worried about what happened," Bastes said, noting that the DENR disregarded not only the results of their investigation, but more so the "cry of the people" who were affected by the mining spills caused from LPI.

Marvel bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for his part, said he was not surprised when the DENR permitted LPI to proceed with the test run as there is "large amounts of money involved."

"It's a very difficult decision because money has been going on and this is true worldwide. And they would like to have money at whatever cost and they will use people, abuse them, exploit them and discard them if they are no longer useful," Gutierrez said.

He added "life in the world is controlled by transnational corporations, therefore

multinational companies would do anything to ensure that they stay no matter what the cost."

With Reyes allowing the LPI to push through with its operations, Bastes said "only government officials with questionable intentions agreed to allow the operations."

In its 169-page report submitted to President Arroyo last May 19, the fact-finding committee recommended the cancellation of LPI's environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for being guilty of negligence since it started its operations even despite incomplete environmental protection infrastructures.

Aside from the ECC cancellation, Bastes also recommended a moratorium on mining activities in the province as well as an investigation of the bureau and regional office of the DENR for neglect of duty when it allowed LPI to dispose poisonous chemicals from a dam to creeks and ponds in the province.

Meanwhile, the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said it is set to contest the Reyes' decision anytime this week.

"The 30-day test run granted by the DENR will be challenged not only in the parliament of the streets and in the court of public opinion, but also in any appropriate court. We will file a temporary restraining order (TRO) this week or early next week," Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

According to Hicap, the decision of Reyes to reopen Lafayette is tragic, unacceptable and unpardonable.

"Reyes' penchant for environmental tragedy and unparalleled puppetry to mining giants is displayed with his latest decision. The test-run officially announces the unwarranted comeback of a destroying giant," he added.

"The test-run granted by Reyes is an open declaration of class war against people exploited and devastated by mining giants. It is an open invitation of war also against advocates of genuine national industrialization. This is something the chief of the DENR must regret for the rest of his life as a bureaucrat capitalist in the Arroyo administration," he stressed.

Hicap said their legal counsels are currently discussing the contents of the TRO to be filed against the DENR decision and that their lawyers are expected to finish the document by tomorrow or on Friday.

According to Pamalakaya, it would raise the recommendations of the RRFC and their arguments against the Australian-based mining company as stated in the anti-graft complaint the group and other militant lawmakers filed before the Office of Ombudsman on Feb. 14.

Last June 1, Hicap said Pamalakaya filed a motion for the speedy resolution of its case pending before the Office of the Ombudsman against the owners and operators of Lafayette. The group included Lafayette country manager Rod Watt in the complaint it filed before the quasi-judicial anti-graft court last Feb.14.

Pamalakaya and the fact-finding mission both suggested the closure of LPI, citing violations of 11 out of 29 conditionalities and sub-conditionalities contained in the agreement between the government and the LPI, as well as the cumulative effects and the clear and present danger posed by the firm's continued mining operations in Rapu-Rapu Island pertaining to ecology, health and livelihood of small fishermen.

For its part, the Ibon Foundation said by allowing LPI to resume operations on Rapu-Rapu Island, the Arroyo administration has shown that it values the interests of foreign investors more than the welfare of the people.

DENR justified its decision by claiming that allowing LPI to resume operations would create 900 jobs, P3 billion in government revenues and P5 million a year in project commitments.

But these "benefits" would only last for the life of the mining project, which is estimated to be six to seven years. In exchange, the natural environment of Rapu-Rapu would be seriously damaged and local livelihoods destroyed, the think-tank said.

The mine tailings spills which took place on Oct. 11 and 15, 2005 have already reportedly resulted in fish kills and adversely affected the health of local residents and the marine environment, as well as disrupted the livelihood of host communities, which the DENR itself acknowledged in its assessment.

"The DENR decision is obviously intended to ease the apprehensions of foreign investors wanting to enter into the mining sector, who expressed their concerns after the fact-finding commission recommended a review of the Mining Act of 1995. Marie Surbano and Jun P. Yap

Mining firm gets nod from DENR

By Katherine Adraneda, The Philippine Star

14th June 2006

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) allowed yesterday the P1.4-billion Rapu-Rapu polymetallic project of Lafayette Phils. in Albay to resume operations, ending months of speculation about the fate of the Australian mining company.

DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes said Lafayette will have to prove it can comply with environmental standards within a 30-day trial period.

The mining company will first have to pay a P10.4-million fine, extend a surety bond and implement more "environmental safeguards," Reyes said, as he blamed the company for mine spills last year that prompted the government to suspend its operations.

Reyes explained the 30-day test run will "determine the overall environmental soundness of its mining operation in Rapu-Rapu (island)... as well as the adequacy of measures it has put in place to prevent a repeat of the two wastewater spills last October."

During the 30-day test run, Lafayette will have to determine the production efficiency of the base metal plant in processing copper and zinc; the sufficiency and adequacy of its remedial measures and environmental safeguards; and the receptivity of the mine facility's emergency response.

"Taking into consideration all the facts and findings, and all the opinions expressed on the various issues, DENR feels that the best option to take is to allow Lafayette to resume operations subject to certain stringent preconditions," Reyes said.

If the company complies with all the requirements during the 30-day trial run, Reyes said a final lifting order shall be issued to Lafayette allowing it to resume full operations.

"It is the DENR's considered judgment that this option will be the best for all concerned, particularly for the Rapu-Rapu community," Reyes said.

He said Lafayette should do away with its open mine pit operations since these are "not an attractive proposition (and) will simply cause small miners to descend on the area and... operate without environmental safeguards and safety measures."


Malacañang supported Reyes in his decision to allow Lafayette to resume operations, albeit temporarily.

"Secretary Reyes enjoys the confidence of the President so he is given the leeway to do what he thinks is best," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said. "So this margin is within his prerogative.

Lawmakers also supported Reyes and his decision to allow Lafayette to continue its mining operations.

"Mining, done right, has made many countries prosperous. I see no reason why the same cannot happen in the Philippines, more so since we have the most under-tapped mineral resources in the world," Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella said.

He said the DENR should now make sure that environmental concerns raised by local leaders are addressed and that Lafayette comply with the strictest environmental standards.

On Lafayette's part, it will try to win back the support of the local community, especially in the face of two wastewater spills in Rapu-Rapu last year, the Bicol lawmaker added.

Fuentebella said the test run would afford Lafayette the "opportunity to prove that it adheres to environmentally sound mining practices."

"It is a 'shape up or ship out' situation for Lafayette, no question about that," he said.

For his part, Parañaque City Rep. Eduardo Zialcita said the DENR should make sure that the company observes all the required guidelines for environmental protection.

"The DENR decision gives the right signal to foreign and local investors that our government will adhere strictly to the rule of law governing mining activities," Zialcita said.

Lafayette Philippines spokesman Julito Sarmiento said in a television interview that the company welcomed the DENR's decision, adding they would comply with the preconditions immediately and could be ready for the test run by July.

"We want this test run very much because this allows us to prove to everybody... that the management of this company is a very responsible management," he said.

A company statement, however, claimed that "we still have to study and clarify some of the conditions so we will be properly guided on how to comply with them."

"We are confident that our remedial measures will pass all tests. After this, we shall seek permission to resume full operations," the company statement said.

Acid Test

Operations at Rapu-Rapu island off Albay, have been suspended for seven months following a spill at its mill site on Oct. 11, 2005 and on its tailings dam on Oct. 31, 2005.

Leftist and environmental groups had called for a closure of the mine and repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 which liberalized the mining industry to foreign firms.

The incident has become a test case of President Arroyo's commitment to mining investments, as well as enforcement of environmental safeguards.

Mrs. Arroyo formed the Rapu-Rapu Fact Finding Commission (RRFFC) headed by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes to look into allegations that Lafayette was violating the terms of its mining permit.

The RRFFC submitted its 169-page report before the President last month, recommending the closure of the mining firm, a blanket ban on mining in the country and a review of the Mining Act of 1995.

Lafayette and mining experts slammed the report, claiming the RRFFC made the recommendations without any scientific basis and even went beyond its mandate in recommending a total mining ban.

Reyes, on the other hand, blamed Lafayette for "operational, technical and management lapses," charging that "the company's project still has to measure up to the standards of responsible mining."

Reyes stressed the test-run would be "an acid test," of the company, adding that it would be subject to "microscopic scrutiny" and would be "open to the public and third-party experts."

"We have always admitted in public the lapses that resulted in the mine incidents last October and even reported these to the proper authorities. There was never a moment or an effort to hide them," Lafayette said.

Rapu-Rapu is expected to produce copper, gold, silver and zinc valued at $350 million over six years. It employs around 900 workers.

The company previously said it had complied with 21 conditions imposed by the DENR to allow the reopening of the mine.


Following the decision, environmentalists and anti-mining groups raised a howl of protest and accused Reyes and the government of "environmental treason of the highest order."

"We are appalled by the decision of DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes... it is environmental treason of the highest order. It sacrifices the health and welfare of our people for the interest of foreign mining companies," said Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson for the group Defend Patrimony.

International environment group Greenpeace added Lafayette will seriously damage Rapu-Rapu and its surrounding fragile marine ecosystem since its toxic tailings and the inevitable acid mine drainage will continue to pollute the seas.

"This lamentable decision is a virtual admission on the part of the government that long-term damage to the environment and to the marine ecosystem is a justifiable cost of doing business," said Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia toxic campaigner.

"It flies in the face of the DENR's own powerlessness and inability to protect the interest of the public especially when disaster attends such mining operations," Baconguis said.

Anti-mining groups based in the Bicol region also expressed their protest over the DENR's decision.

Jun dela Torre, of the Legazpi urban poor organization, said anti-mining advocates had formed a new group, Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance (SARA), to lead protest rallies against the resumption of mining activities in Rapu-Rapu.

Dela Torre lamented the efforts of the government to form the RRFFC only to reject its findings and allow the Australian mining firm to operate again.

"We are condemning in the highest degree the Arroyo administration for this decision to resume the mining activities in Rapu-Rapu," Dela Torre said.

Dela Torre led the group in supporting the recommendations of RRFFC for a review of the mining law that allows foreigners to own mining firms in our country.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, on the other hand, declared that there may be no need to repeal the mining law as proposed by some sectors.

During the initial hearing on the issue at the Senate, Cayetano pointed out the general parameters for mining are already present under the present law.

"We have a basic law that provides the general parameters for mining but we have a big problem with (its) implementation," she said.

Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, admitted there are still issues that need to be addressed in terms of protecting the environment and communities.

"There are still gaps in the provisions that ensure that adequate measures are in place to secure the health and ensure that the environment is not damaged beyond the damage that naturally occurs with mining," she said.

The Senate committee is conducting a hearing on the separate bills filed by Senators Jamby Madrigal and Sergio Osmeña III calling for the repeal of the Mining Act. - With Rocel Felix, Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy, Cet Dematera, AFP

Senate scrutinizes Mining Act next week

Manila Times

11th June 2006

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has invited three Cabinet members for the hearing of four proposed measures to review and repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The committee, headed by Sen. Pia Cayetano, set the initial hearing on Tuesday in which Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes, Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila will be the main speakers.

Also invited were Romulo Neri, National Economic and Development Authority director general; Benjamin Philip Romualdez, Chamber of Mines president; Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines president; the lawyer Marvic Leonen of the Legal Rights and Resource Center; and Dr. Carlos Primo David of the UP National Institute for Geological Sciences.

It was not immediately known if the Cabinet secretaries would be allowed by Malacañan to attend the hearing. Early this week, officials of the Department of National Defense snubbed the Senate investigation into the alleged torture by military intelligence officers of five supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada, citing provisions of Executive Order 464.

The Cayetano committee will take up Senate Bill 2021 that she authored, Senate Bill 2205 of Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal and Senate Bill 295 of Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, which all calls to amend or repeal Republic Act 7942, the Philippine mining Act of 1995.

Cayetano, whose Senate Bill 488 seeks to review the status of the implementation of the law, will also be discussed. She said the hearing will also be timely since the public and environmental groups are awaiting for the government's decision on the mining operation of Lafayette Philippines Inc. on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay.

Reyes said the government decision whether to allow resumption of mining of Lafayette, which caused two mine-tailing spills in October 2005, will be out by mid-June.

The fact-finding commission, headed by Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, formed to look into the mining disaster, has recommended to Malacañan to cancel the environmental compliance certificate of the Australian-financed mining firm for violating several conditions of its certificate.

Cayetano insisted that mining companies like Lafayette must comply with environmental laws to prevent disasters like mine-tailing spills and the government through the environment department should properly monitor their operations.

Ronnie E. Calumpita

Mindoro mining enemies claim success in tour

By Madonna T. Virola, Inquirer

13th June 2006

Editor's Note: Published on Page A15 of the June 13, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

CITY OF CALAPAN-Efforts by protesters to raise awareness on mining in Mindoro were disturbing to a shareholder of a foreign mining firm that plans to extract nickel in Mindoro, according to a leader of the Alliance against Mining on Mindoro Island (Alamin), the protesters' group. "Goldman-Sachs, which holds about 61 million shares in Crew, was disturbed by the issues we raised," said Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan and leader of Alamin.

Ben de los Reyes, spokesperson of Crew Mining in Mindoro, said the protesters were still unaware of his firm's planned operation and would launch an information and education campaign.

Leaders of Alamin and Mindoro tribes earlier toured the United Kingdom to campaign against the planned operations of Crew. They were invited to speak in the British parliament.

Gariguez said Alamin's campaign "paved the way for a possible fact-finding (mission) and resolutions . (for) stricter regulation of UK companies and complaint mechanisms for affected (mining) communities."

Crew plans to develop a nickel and cobalt mine in Mindoro on a concession almost 100 sq km in area and straddling the provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. Reserves are estimated to be good for 30 years.

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