MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining blasts worry Subanen people

Published by MAC on 2009-02-23
Source: Ryan Rosauro, Mindanao Bureau

DAPITAN CITY - People in the hinterland village of Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, have renewed their protests against mining in their area.

Alex Cabugos, a farmer leader, told the Inquirer by phone that around 20 mostly Subanen people held a picket on Friday to prevent TVI Resources Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) from blasting and drilling.

Most of them were women, said Timuay Jose Anoy, a Subanen leader.

The next day, however, Jose Dagala of TVIRD's community relations department negotiated with the community to end the picket and promised no blasting activities until the matter was discussed with management, Cabugos said.

Both parties agreed to meet on Feb. 18, but a vigil continues in the area, he added.

The picket culminated a weeklong appeal by the Canatuan community for a stop to the mineral extraction activities of TVIRD, which started in December last year with the commissioning of its sulphide project.

The sulphide project seeks to extract copper and zinc deposits from the area where it previously mined for gold and silver.

In its website, TVIRD said commissioning activities could last between three to six months and were aimed to "achieve optimal levels of production."

Anoy said Canatuan residents were anxious of the renewed mining activities that, he added, damaged the house of one family.

He said the activities did not have the consent of the community, which has been protesting TVI's presence since 1994 when it acquired rights over a 508-hectare mining tenement within the 8,000-hectare ancestral domain of the Subanen.

Despite the opposition, the company managed to secure a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement with the government.

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