MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Dilong Valley - a mining hotspot

Published by MAC on 2008-04-27

by NORDIS

BAGUIO CITY: The Dilong Valley in Abra has been considered a mining hot spot and has since been the subject of military operations, leaders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance said Thursday.

Mining applications in the Cordillera seem to be concentrated in the provincial boundaries, with four applications for financial and technical assistance (AFTAs) concentrating on at least five provincial boundaries, CPAnoted.

After the Philippine Mining Act was passed in 1995, ten AFTAs were immediately filed in the Cordillera. None of the applications have been approved so far.

Santos Mero, CPA deputy secretary-general, in an interview said, at present there are four remaining AFTA covering an average of 80,000 hectares each in the Tubo-Quirino-Besao provincial tri-boundary; the Bakun-Buguias-Mankayan, all in Benguet and Tinoc in Ifugao.

In these areas, applications for production sharing by Cordillera Exploration, Inc. (CEXI); Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC); Horizon Mining and Diamond Drilling Corp.-Phils. (DDCP) still await government processing.

In Abra alone, there are 14 Exploration Permit applications under process, three approved Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements and one Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) application. The FTAA applied for by Lindsay Resources covers 14 municipalities in Abra and the municipalities of Balbalan and Pasil in Kalinga province.

Newcrest Mining, an Australian company which earlier applied for an area in the Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur (AMPIS) tri-boundary has abandoned its AFTA, which is now allegedly assumed by CEXI and Malibato Mining.

"These are now the Block 1A, which covers Besao, Mountain Province and Block 1C, covering Tubo, Abra and some parts of Quirino, Ilocos Sur," Mero said.

Besides AFTAs, several Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) threaten communities of Bauko, Besao and Tadian in Mountain Province; Tubo and Malibcong in Abra; Quirino in Ilocos Sur; Bakun,are in in the region are in Abra, according to Mero.

Several individuals also have mining applications in the Maeng ancestral domain, which are either being processed or are already converted to explorations permits.

According to Mero five mining projects in the Cordillera, are among the identified 23 priority mining projects by the government. These are the Padcal Mines of Philex Mining Corporation and Itogon-Suyoc Mines in Itogon; the Teresa Gold Project and the Far Southeast Project in Mankayan; and the Batong-buhay Mines in Kalinga.

Mining applications precede military occupation, according to Mero, speaking in behalf of the village folk who bear the impact of human rights violations and economic dislocations.

Several attempts to mine Tubtuba and Pananuman, both in Tubo in the Dilong Valley have reportedly been foiled by local residents, who have wielded unity to defend their villages. The said communities of indigenous peoples were recently subjected to heavy bombings and strafing in late March.

"Villagers usually oppose mining," Mero said. "They have learned from the destruction of Itogon and Mankayan villages, which have earlier struggled against mining operations" he added.

Itogon and Mankayan, both in Benguet, have been hosts to the oldest gold and copper mines in the country. To date, only two companies are commercially producing minerals in Benguet. These are Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp. (LCMC) and Philex Mining Company, in Mankayan and Itogon, respectively.

Lyn V Ramo for NORDIS

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