MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Intex Resources' Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), issued by DENR Secretary Atienza, Defective and Highly Irregular!

Published by MAC on 2009-10-26
Source: Alyansa Tigil Mina / ALAMIN Press Statement

The people of Mindoro are furious with the approval of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project by Intex Resources.

To express their anger 25 volunteers, mostly from Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN), will hold a hunger strike and fasting, in front of the DENR Building from 17 November onwards. The hunger strike is planned to be held indefintely, until the ECC is reconsidered and revoked by DENR Secretary Atienza.  

On the first day of the vigil, the 25 hunger strikers will be joined by representatives from the local government units both from Occidental and Oriental Mindoro. On the second day they will be joined by the representatives from the Church, including the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan led by Bishop Warlito Cajandig and the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose. There will be further support from farmers groups and NGOs.

Intex Resources triumphantly brags in its website that the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) was issued to them by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza. Erlend Grimstad, CEO of Intex Resources ASA, claims that by having the ECC, “one of the most important milestones for this project has now been achieved.”

The ECC approved by the DENR on October 14, 2009, came amidst the catastrophic flooding and man-made disasters caused by wanton destruction of the environment. And instead of coming to rescue our fragile ecology, the DENR shamelessly pursued the national policy agenda of the Arroyo government to promote mining industry, with utter disregard to the risks posed by the destruction of Mindoro’s critical watershed through the risky large-scale, strip mining operation of Intex Resources ASA.

Governor Arnan Panaligan believes that “The ECC was granted in gross disregard to the strong and categorical opposition of the leaders and people of Mindoro to the nickel mining project. The DENR, in granting the ECC, placed the long term safety of the fragile environment of Mindoro Island in serious danger. Apparently, the DENR has not learned from recent environmental disasters.”

Approved House (Congress) Resolution No. 25, clearly asserts that “the Mindoro Nickel Project of lntex Resources and Aglubang Mining, covers one of the province's watershed areas as duly declared and identified in the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Physical Framework Plan. The mining exploration site encroaches on the Mag-asawang Tubig Watershed, the largest source of irrigation water for the 40,000 hectares of rice lands in Calapan City, and the towns of Naujan, Baco and Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.”

One of the most objectionable issues in the EIA study is that the flood-prone Barangays in the municipalities of Victoria, Naujan and around the city of Calapan, are not included in consideration of impact areas. This is one of the reasons why the ECC should not have been issued!

For several other reasons, the issuance of ECC is deemed highly irregular and patently questionable because the EIA study conducted for the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) did not pass the technical scrutiny of the EIA Review Committee, which refused to give definitive endorsement for the project. However, Secretary Atienza, in complete disregard for the scientists and experts’ evaluation, unilaterally approved the ECC!

As of this writing, the Chairman of the EIA Review Committee for MNP is contemplating on resigning on all his EIA Review engagement labeling the practice as a sham.

Intex Resources, privy to the decision of EIA Review Committee, should instead be ashamed of an ECC obtained spuriously without passing the standard of credible scientific approval. But Intex Resources did not report this information and it again fails to be transparent in disclosing the negative facts about the project by constantly projecting half-truths and contentious claims.

The timing of the ECC issuance is also of particular concern and is considered highly irregular. It comes at precisely the time when an investigation of a complaint before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Norwegian National Contact Point in relation to Intex's project is about to commence, with a fact finding by the Norwegian Ambassador to Mindoro scheduled soon.

A critical report of prior fact finding trip conducted by the Ambassador in 2007 concluded that ‘The majority of the population on the island of Mindoro is against mining...[They] fear first and foremost destruction of their “watershed” area/flooding/destroyed agricultural land/negative impact on fishing as a result of toxic waste . . .What does seem clear, is that Crew Minerals (now Intex) may have substantial difficulty obtaining an ECC - because of the massive local resistance, not least the resistance in the Mangyan peopleʼs NCIP-registered organizations.'

The issuance of the ECC is an outright insult to the people of Mindoro who have continually expressed their vehement and overwhelming opposition to the project as articulated in the Mining Moratorium of Oriental Mindoro and Municipality of Sablayan, in volumes of Sangguniang Bayan Resolutions, Position Papers of sectoral and civil society organizations, indigenous peoples, farmers, fisherfolks and the Church.

Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato of Occidental Mindoro expressed her total disappointment for the national government’s imposition of pro-mining policy even when it runs contrary to the genuine development thrust of the province: “isang malakas na sampal ito sa autonomy ng lokal na pamahalaan na siyang tunay na nagmamalasakit sa kasasapitan ng ating mga kababayang magiging biktima ng kapahamakan!”

Similarly, Vice Governor Estella Aceron of Oriental Mindoro, is not only mad but infuriated for the ECC issued by the DENR Secretary to Intex Resources, despite the vehement opposition of the people. In a statement published in her blog, she questioned the motive behind questionable ECC issuance: ". . . It is really UNBELIEVABLE! ... What’s happening? Is it because he (Secretary Atienza) is running again in 2010 and he needs all the support from mining companies?”

The people of Mindoro are enraged by the brazen act of betrayal of the public trust, the transgression of our local autonomy and the manner by which our fragile island ecology is sacrificed for profit of the transnational mining companies and their local cohorts.

Contact Person: Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez

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