Philippines: Pujada proceeding despite BHP Billiton side-liningPublished by MAC on 2008-07-01
Links: Amcor, BHP Billiton, Philippines, nickel
Asiaticus starts drilling, technical studies in Pujada nickel project in Davao Oriental
By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Business World online - http://www.bworldonline.com/BW062008/content.php?id=044
20th June 2008
DAVAO CITY - Asiaticus Management Corp. will devote the next seven months to conduct exploration drilling and other studies so it could start operations in the Pujada nickel project in Davao Oriental, the company president said.
Vicente J. Jayme, Jr. said the company is looking into how it can immediately start the project considering that it has taken a long time for the company and its previous partner, QNI Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of Australia's BHP Billion, to start it.
Asiaticus has already rescinded its agreement with the foreign company, which was the subject of a court battle. A preliminary injunction has prevented employees of its former partner from entering the area and allowing it to start operations.
Laureano A. Barrios, company vice-president for administration, said Asiaticus is in the process of confirming initial findings of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., the previous company that explored the area in late 1960s to the 1970s before it was abandoned.
Asiaticus started drillings since last month to deny allegations it would not be able to continue with the project without its former partner. "We want to prove to these foreign companies that we can do it," said Mr. Jayme as he denied another allegation that the company was supported by prominent individuals close to the national leadership.
Mr. Barrios added that the only reason Asiaticus entered into an agreement with QNI was because of the latter's claim that it had the technology to develop the Pujada nickel project.
Ruben C. Tan, company director, said the company is also gathering additional data, claiming the former partner kept it "in the dark."
The Pujada nickel project agreement started when Asiaticus decided to partner with QNI. BHP Billiton later came into the picture, buying control over QNI Philippines Inc. On May 20, Judge Winlove M. Dumayas of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59 imposed a preliminary injunction prohibiting the BHP Billiton employees and executives from entering the place.
The Court of Appeals has asked Asiaticus to comment on the petition of BHP Billiton questioning the decision of Mr. Dumayas. The foreign company was also reported to have brought up the idea of bringing the case to the international courts.
Mr. Jayme confirmed that even if the case is still being heard by the courts, foreign companies, some of them from Australia like BHP Billiton, wanted to partner with Asiaticus. But he said he turned down the proposals because the case has yet to be settled.
Local government wants investors to start city's biggest nickel project
Business World - http://www.bworldonline.com/BW061608/content.php?id=044
16th June 2008
DAVAO CITY - The city government of Mati in Davao Oriental wants proponents to start their nickel project - the biggest that this city has hosted - as soon as possible so the local community can benefit now through jobs and revenues for the local government.
Councilor Allan E. Andrada, city council chairman on environment, said they take the issue to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she visits the city on June 19, in time for the first anniversary of Mati's cityhood.
"The project should start now. We don't care who will do the project because that is for the court to determine, but we believe it is high time that the project moves," the councillors said in a telephone interview.
He was referring to the legal dispute between local miner Asiaticus Management Corp. and its partner QNI Philippines Inc., the local subsidiary of Australian miner BHP Billiton.
Asiaticus has asked a Makati court to rescind the joint venture contract with QNI Philippines after the foreign investor allegedly failed to deliver on its investment promise.
Last week, Mati City Mayor Michelle Marie Denise N. Rabat said officials of the foreign company had told her they would bring the case to international courts. Local officials of BHP Billiton reportedly held a teleconference with their principals last week in Davao City.
A Makati court has temporarily restrained BHP Billiton, through its local subsidiary, from going to the 11,800-hectare site.
Armed men attack Davao Oriental mining site
By Ben O. Tesiorna, Sun Star Davao -
23rd June 2008
UNIDENTIFIED armed men attacked the Pujada Nickel Mining site in Barangay Macambol, Mati City more than a week ago and torched several equipments owned by the Asiaticus Management Corporation, belated reports reaching this paper said.
Reports reaching Sun.Star Davao revealed that around seven in the evening of June 14, five armed men attacked one of the drilling sites of Amcor at line 4, Sitio Magum.
Lorenzo Maboloc and Edwin Neri, both employees of Georock Drilling Contractor Inc., said they were about to rest from a day's work when they heard several gunshots from three different directions.
The two employees hid from a distance and saw five unidentified armed men at their mining base site.
As they were fleeing, Maboloc and Neri claimed to have heard metal-clicking sounds from their base camp that seems like the armed men hammering their drilling equipments.
An hour after the initial attack, the employees again heard several burst of gunshots.
The two decided to hide at a safety place and spend the night there.
In the morning of the following day, Maboloc and Neri decided to go back to their mining base site and saw their drilling equipments as well as their makeshift camp razed to the ground.
Five units of 10 horsepower Yamma Yamada drilling equipment, two hydraulic pumps, and several core boxes were destroyed by the fire. Amcor officials estimate the total cost of damage to reach more than a million pesos.
Amcor president Vicente Jayme condemned the burning incident and hinted that whoever was behind the attack has no other intention but to derail the mining operation in the area.
He expressed doubt that rebels are behind the attack.
"Unfortunate incident for this project that we are fast tracking to generate badly needed jobs for the community. Amcor has been here since 1994 and there was never any untoward incident. It is highly suspicious and surprising since there were no demands from any group. Could it be that the group responsible has no other intention except to derail the fast tracking of this project by Amcor?," Jayme said.
Amcor is locked in a legal battle with international mining giant, BHP Billiton, over the Pujada Nickel Mining project in the barangays of Macambol and Cabuaya.
Amcor and Billiton used to have a joint venture agreement on the said project but Filipino-owned Amcor decided to rescind its contract with Billiton for non-compliance of reciprocal obligations.
From then on, both mining companies have filed charges and counter-charges against each other in the Makati Regional Trial Court.