MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines update: protestors claim mining kills, can't fuel growth

Published by MAC on 2008-10-21

Eighth Asia Pacific Mining Conference lambasted by protesters, warns of mining crisis in the Philippines

Kalikasan-PNE Press Release

14th October 2008

Environmental activists, mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, and Church representatives staged a demonstration today in front of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in protest of the ongoing 8th Asia Pacific Mining Conference. The conference is organized by the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA), Philippines Chambers of Mines, and the Minerals Development Council of the Department of Natural Resources.

The conference's organizers have stated their optimism that mining is in a bright position for investments and economic activity despite the current world-wide financial turmoil. According to the protesters, however, this baseless assurance is negated by what is happening in the international market. In the past weeks, the price of copper dropped to its lowest since February 2007. Also, aluminum and nickel prices have plummeted to values not seen in more than two and a half years, while zinc fell to its lowest point since November 2005.

"Like what happened in the late 1970's up to late 1990s, the local and global mining industry will undergo a major crisis more intense than before," said Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of militant environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE). "The claim of Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean and Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) president Benjamin Philip Romualdez that the mining sector will remain stable in the midst of global depression is just a facade to conceal the crisis affecting the local and global mining industry. We expect majority of local and foreign mining companies in the country will either go bankrupt or slows down their operation."

In the past five months, the world's top 20 mining stocks have surrendered a combined US$1.1 trillion in market value. The average big mining stock has lost 64%. These include mining giants who have projects in the Philippines, such as BHP Billiton, Anglo-American, Vale, and Xstrata, that have lost hundreds of billions worth of investments in the stock markets.

"In the midst of the global economic meltdown," explained Bautista, "the aim of this conference is to discuss how to further implement the globalization policy of liberalization and privatization in local mining industries in Southeast Asian countries. Capitalist countries like Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Korea, and even China want to further open up mining industries such as those in the Philippines and Indonesia to make it cheaper and easier for them to exploit and extract mineral resources from these third-world countries. This way, they get more profits, at the same time shift the impacts of the global crisis from their home countries to third-world countries."

"We are the ones who suffer the brunt of mining liberalization of the government," asserted Nelson Mallari, an indigenous leader and a member of PROTECT Zambales, a provincial alliance opposing mining plunder and destruction in Zambales province. "We are the ones who are displaced from our communities and farms as the government allows local and foreign mining companies to grab our lands. When we oppose and resist, the government employs militarization and human rights violations. We have nowhere to go and no option to take but to fight these land grabbers to our last breath."

In 2007, there was an upsurge in protest actions by mining-affected communities, and in armed attacks staged by rebel groups against large-scale mining projects in the Philippines. Junior mining companies like Australian-owned Lafayette Mining Limited and New Zealand-owned OceanaGold Corporation were forced to halt or suspend their projects because of community resistance. From January 2007 to July 2008 there were at least 10 armed attacks by the communist rebel group the New People's Army directed against foreign mining projects in the Philippines. Among them was the billion-dollar project of mining giants Xstrata, which was attacked twice this year.

According to a statement by Defend Patrimony!, a national multi-sectoral alliance opposed to the mining liberalization policy and large-scale mining projects of the Arroyo government, "The 'golden period of opportunity' the participants and organizers of this AFMA conference are looking for will not be found in their horizon, and instead they will be met by a nightmare of bankruptcies, lay-offs, and shutdowns. Given the worsening global crisis and the growing peoples' resistance, mining TNCs and their cohorts will be met with opposition in every step of the way by mining-affected communities and their supporters. The people will frustrate their agenda to plunder the country's resources and national patrimony."

**/KALIKASAN- People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core./

Reference: Clemente Bautista Jr. 09228449787

KALIKASAN-PNE/ KALIKASAN PEOPLE'S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT 26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756; E-mail: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com


Mining will not fuel ASEAN growth

Mining KILLS: ASEAN communities, culture and cooperation will further suffer

ATM Press Release

14th October 2008

The Alyansa Tigil Mina, a network of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, religious, academic and NGO support groups opposed to large scale mining in the Philippines once again gathers to "welcome" the delegates to the 8th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference. The Alyansa has no personal problem with the delegates, but it completely rejects large scale mining in the Philippines as a practice that is destructive to communities and the environment. Thus, as in the previous mining conferences held in the country, we welcome these delegates with flags and streamers and chants of "no to mining" and "respect IP rights" and "mining kills". We say this last more vehemently because this conference boasts that the mining industry will fuel ASEAN growth.

Mining cannot be the driver for growth of ASEAN economic integration and social development, or in the words of Sec. Atienza, "ASEAN ascendancy on the world economic stage". For one, the much taunted super-cycle of mineral prices has gone bust. Prices are plummeting even faster than they skyrocketed a few years ago, when China and India drove demand sky high.

From its record price of more than $20/ per pound, nickel's value has plunged over the past year to less than $10/ per pound. It is now worth about as much as it was in 2003 -- before the boom happened. Copper's price is at its lowest in over a year and seems set to continue its plunge. The worsening global economic crisis only intensifies the mining industry's own crisis: bankruptcies, investments losses in stocks, stiff community resistance.

We remind the industry that rock bottom mineral prices coupled with the massive public backlash after the Marcopper disaster in 1996 finished off the mining industry. No, mining has no place in the Philippines.

The 8th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference is actually a conference of meetings: the 9th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Minerals (ASOMM), the 2nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Minerals (AMMIN), Consultative Meeting on Minerals Cooperation of ASEAN + 3 and the 5-day Mining Conference of the Private Sector-led ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA). The objective is to come up with regional policies that will promote regional cooperation among ASEAN member-countries. But with mining multinationals competing with each other and falling investments up for grabs, ASEAN member-countries may be in a race -- to the bottom-which does not bode well for integration and cooperation.

Sec. Atienza has been quoted to say the conference "will also promote environmentally sound and socially responsible mineral development practices in the management and utilization of mineral resources" but given the demonstrated inability of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau to manage the risks inherent to mining, public opinion about mining is currently low.

While the Mines and Geosciences Bureau was able to declare Barangay Masara in Compostela Valley as a geohazard area, they were not able to do anything to prevent the landslides that killed 24 people there.

The MGB also bears responsibility for what happened to the small scale miners in Itogon. "This particular incident proves strongly our conviction and contention that mining, particularly in upland areas, should not be done because mining in the country, are still irresponsible," stated Bishop Ramon Villena, speaking on behalf of the CBCP about the Itogon incident.

The MGB cannot safeguard communities in geohazard areas, nor can it secure abandoned mines or hold companies responsible for their rehabilitation. Yet we allow the MGB to not only set the standards for every new mine in the country but to invite more mining in.

The Alyansa Tigil Mina believes that the MGB lacks the resources and the willpower to conduct its regulatory functions of mining in the Philippines , and it is jeopardizing the safety of Filipinos across the nation. Thus, a Manila Declaration on Responsible Mining which the conference hopes to come up with in the next few days would be another hot air balloon to explode in ASEAN.

The Alyansa also accuses the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples of laxity and general incompetence.

As revealed in the Philippine Asset Reform Report Card, a major survey done earlier this year, there was a section on ancestral domains that revealed more than half of all respondent IP communities have to contend with extractive industries.

More than 40% of respondents stated that mining was the extractive industry they contended with.

The prevalence of conflicting territorial claims showed what a failure the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples have been at protecting IP rights.

As the PARRC survey covered more than half of all ancestral domain claimants and title holders in the country, we consider this to be an institutional failure of the highest order.

Our government agencies are untrustworthy, as mining is untrustworthy. While it may claim economic benefits, all we see are communities wrecked, the landscape shattered, scandal and pollution.

The Philippine experience of mining thus is of death. Mining kills communities. Mining kills culture. And mining will kill the dream of real cooperation in ASEAN. Consider it a fact that as long as these mining conferences are held on Philippine soil, the Alyansa Tigil Mina will be there to remind them that their business is not welcome here.

References:

Jaybee Garganera (09153153719) Terence Osorio (09178450512) Alyansa Tigil Mina Secretariat 632-426-6740

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Government offers mineral program as ASEAN mining model

By Catherine J Teves, PNA -

16 October 2008

MANILA - Government is offering its two-pronged mineral development program as one model Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members can adapt to help boost respective mining industries.

"This can be used in further developing such industries," Philippine foreign affairs undersecretary Enrique Manalo said Thursday at opening of the Second ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Minerals which Department of Environment and Natural Resources hosted at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City .

The Philippine program covers sustainable development-based legislation which enables the country to benefit from its mineral resources, he said.

"Our program also promotes public-private sector cooperation in responsible mining," he continued.

Through this program, the Philippine government aims to transform mining nationwide into a USD10 billion industry by 2012.

Manalo noted boosting mining will augur well for ASEAN, particularly amidst the on-going international financial crisis.

"We have the necessary mineral resources to buffer this crisis and can export these to sustain our respective economies," he said.

He also noted maximizing mineral development will help further hike ASEAN's USD737 billion gross domestic product and USD720 total trade.

"The region is evolving as a significant player in the global arena - for many industries, ASEAN is becoming indispensable," he said.

Philippine defence secretary Gilberto Teodoro assured the military's continuing efforts to improve security nationwide so mining operations can proceed with minimal hitches.

"Government is throwing its full support behind this industry," he said during the event.

He noted mining is among priority sectors government identified in its 2004-2010 Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan.

This plan aims to generate through mining during such period some 240,000 jobs nationwide, he added. (PNA) LOR/CJT/mec

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Mining giants cautious

Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews contributor - http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5310&Itemid=160

MindaNews

16th October 2008

MANILA - Several mining giants are reportedly wary on pouring more investments in the Philippines because of potential risks involved that include volatile government policy on mineral development in the country.

Phil Carney, who spoke on strategic risk and management planning during the 8th Asian Pacific Mining Conference, said although there has been a shift in policy direction in the Arroyo government towards mining -- one from "tolerant to active promotion" -- big mining firms want "100 per cent assurance that their investments here are protected."

He said the 60-40 rule on local and foreign ownership in mining firms are holding back foreign investors from pouring in more capital to fast track the exploration and development of existing and potential mining projects.

In December 2006, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which allows big ticket mining firms to own 100 per cent of local mining companies under the financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA).

The maximum FTAA contract area that may be applied for or granted per Qualified Person

in the entire Philippines are 1,000 meridional blocks or approximately 81,000 hectares onshore; 4,000 meridional blocks or approximately 324,000 hectares offshore or a combination of 1,000 meridional blocks onshore and 4,000 meridional blocks offshore.

So far, only two firms have been granted FTAAs.

One of them is Sagittarius Mines, Inc., holder of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

The Tampakan Gold and Copper project is the biggest in Southeast Asia and Western Pacific region and reportedly has a potential ore deposits of f 2.2 billion tons at a grade of 0.6% 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% copper cut-off grade.

Carney also said eyes are now focused on China following a projected decline in its gross domestic product over the next few years.

"China used to have a 12 per cent annual GDP growth. Now it is down to something like eight per cent," he said.

China is the world's biggest consumer of commodities products because of the demands of its ever growing economy.

Any slow down in China's economic growth, Carney warned, will affect the global mining industry.

At the same time, he likewise said the global financial meltdown and possible recession in the US could take their toll on foreign investments in the mining industry in the country.

Carney said while prices of minerals in the international market have been relatively steady, how the US can recover from its current financial crises two or three years from now is crucial to the local mining sector.

The Arroyo government has been pushing for the revitalization of the mining industry and has vowed to make the Philippines a "mining country" in 2011.

Environment secretary Lito Atienza earlier said the Philippines could attain that target if the mining sector will contribute six percent of the country's GDP.

But while Carney said foreign mining firms have now viewed the Arroyo administration as mining-friendly, a change in leadership when the president steps down from office in 2010 could also affect the future on the country's mining industry.

Aside from the aforementioned risks, the Philippine mining industry is also facing strong opposition from environmentalists and the Catholic Church which has traditionally taken an anti-mining stance. (Edwin G. Espejo / MindaNews contributor)*


'Respect mining moratorium in Mindoro'

Madonna Virola, Southern Luzon Bureau,

The Inquirer

16th October 2008

CITY OF CALAPAN, Philippines -- More than 4,500 anti-mining advocates formed a human chain along J.P. Rizal Street here Thursday to urge President Macapagal-Arroyo, who arrived for a peace council meeting, to respect a mining moratorium. The human chain was timed by the multi-sectoral Alyansa Laban sa Mina (Alamin, Alliance Against Mining) for the arrival of Arroyo after lunch for the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) of the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region at the Filipiniana Hotel here.

Joining the protest were representatives from indigenous peoples' groups, the church, Rotary Club, cooperatives, barangay (villages), religious groups and academe.

At the LPSA, a two-page position paper on ecology, food security and the threats posed by large-scale mining by the Intex Resources Corp./Aglubang Mining Corp. in Oriental Mindoro was presented to Arroyo by participants led by pastors of different parishes, leaders of people's organizations and civil society groups.

"We are alarmed by the prevailing situation of ecological crises and imminent destruction of the environment occasioned by a lack of respect for nature and the plunder of our natural resources by large-scale mining, with Mindoro island having a total of 92 mining applications as reported by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in January 2008," said the paper.

A major concern has been the continuing exploration under the Mindoro nickel project of the Intex Resources and Aglubang Mining, "which critically threatens the food security and ecological integrity of Oriental Mindoro," the paper added.

The mining concession covers the Mag-asawang Tubig Watershed identified in Mindoro's Physical Framework Plan as the largest source of irrigation water for 40,000 hectares of collective rice land in Calapan.

Anti-mining activists say the concession threatens the towns of Naujan, Baco and Victoria , and Calapan City , which had a combined rice production of nearly 170,000 metric tons in 2006, or about 50 percent of total provincial production, enough to feed more than 783,000 people for a year.

The paper said in 2000, the estimated agricultural productivity of Oriental Mindoro at farmgate price was P11.4 billion.

Assuming that mining would adversely affect only 30 percent of the total productivity, the total loss of the province would be P4 billion, it said.

The 9,720-hectare mining site also covers the ancestral domain claim of the Alangan and Tadyawan Mangyan communities, who stand to be displaced.

Two peoples' organizations hold certificates of ancestral domain claims within the mining concession and earlier passed a written opposition to mining.

In July 2001, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through then secretary Heherson Alvarez, revoked the mining concession, citing the environmental and social impacts of the project.

But on March 10, 2004, the Office of the President revoked the notice of termination/cancellation earlier issued against the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement of Aglubang Mining Corp., despite a 25-year-mining moratorium declared by the provincial board on January 28, 2002.

"Since the economic thrusts of the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro are anchored on food sustainability, ecotourism and the development of the agri-industry, the entry of mining operations is found to be detrimental to the sustainable development agenda of the province," the paper said.

"We appeal to President Macapagal-Arroyo to ensure that our mining moratorium is respected and to save our critical watershed presently being threatened by the mining operation of Intex and Aglubang Mining," it said.

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