july/september 2008                        special edition                      PhP150.00newsbreakwww.newsbreak.com.ph    ...
dear reader                                First, Please Clean Up                                In June, President Arroyo...
c o N t e N t S                           3     Dear reaDer             OvERvIEW      5     unearthing strife By Roel Land...
o v e r v i e wUnearthing strifeRising metal prices and friendly government policy spur a surge in investments and set off...
Palparan’s involvement in mining dis-                                                                                     ...
o v e r v i e wFLAsH POinTsa sampling of mining-related conflicts in 2007 and 2008                 kasiBu, nueVa Vizcaya  ...
o v e r v i e win conflicts over mining claims, trans-        May, Switzerland’s Xstrata, which has a       mines, irrespo...
a blockade against OceanaGold, the Aus-         slows, warn that delayed regulatory ap-                                   ...
ing industry and the various sectors, such                                                                                ...
o v e r v i e wthe MGB has said that another 8 millionhectares are “highly mineralized” thatcould be explored and develope...
eNviroNMeNtnot Fit for MiningSet to resume in July, mining operations in Rapu-Rapu are stillexpected to pose threats to th...
JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 13
eNviroNMeNtindustrial and community relations, em-         Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) of    measures taken by...
PHotogRaPHS by gigie CRuzengineeR ViRgilio PeRdigon                    FatHeR andy baliWaS                              dR...
million was left behind, says David, butthe money was not used efficiently.  For Rapu-Rapu, an initial P137 million       ...
eNviroNMeNt                                                                                                               ...
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
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Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict

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The Philippines is not conducive to socially responsible mining—not yet. There’s a lot of cleaning up to be done. The national government can start by making mining companies pay up for the damages that their operations are expected to bring.

The Foundation for the Philippine Environment saw, as we did, the need to put matters in perspective before the government grants any more mining permits. They provided funding for this special issue. Editorial judgment was left to us.

Roel Landingin, our guest editor, came up with a very comprehensive lineup of stories. This is the first journalistic assessment of the mining industry since the Supreme Court upheld the mining act in 2004.

We invite you to establish with us whether miners and officials have learned from mining’s ugly past

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  • maam where can i buy a back copy of this? I will need it as a source for my thesis at the UB College of Law. Thank you.
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  • www.no2mininginpalawan.com
    and VOTE to stop large-scale
    open-pit mining in PALAWAN
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Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict

  1. 1. july/september 2008 special edition PhP150.00newsbreakwww.newsbreak.com.ph We Make Sense of the News the big dig Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons of Conflict inside Palparan: From Soldier to Miner Acid Drainage in Rapu-Rapu Gunning for Nickel in Zambales Why Bishops Renounce Mining Local Solutions to a National Problem
  2. 2. dear reader First, Please Clean Up In June, President Arroyo issued Executive Order 734, placing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. To environmentalists, the new setup is not as harmless as it seems. It came at a time when a few municipalities in Palawan had made known their opposition to mining activities. The capital, Puerto Princesa City―that city internationally applauded for environmental management—has adopted a total ban on mining. The big foreign companies are keen on the huge nickel ore deposits in the province, and the green souls are convinced that these interests pushed for EO 734. The implication of the President’s order is that the PCSD, which is empowered to implement environmental laws in Palawan, will now have to bow to DENR rules, such as those on issuing environmental clearances and mining permits.newsbreakPUBlIC TRUST MEDIA GROUP InC. And we all know that the DENR has, in some cases, compromised the efforts of many local governments to seriously run after irresponsible miners.Marites Dañguilan VitugEditor in Chief One wonders why the national government would go to great lengths for the mining industry, thatroel lanDingin it would not spare even the country’s last frontier.Guest EditorglenDa M. gloria The government has touted mining as our economic hope. From $264 million in 2005, miningManaging Editor investments could reach $4.1 billion by 2010.MiriaM grace a. goAssistant Managing Editor What we have found out is that the mining industry’s economic impact remains negligible—jobslala riManDo created are only 0.4 percent of total employment, and revenue is less than 1 percent of totalBusiness Editor government collection each year.geMMa BagayauaOnline Coordinator Our research shows that many communities resist large-scale mining operations because of the costsaries rufo to the environment and the health of the locals.Senior WritercarMela s. fonBuena The Philippines’ mineral potentials make it one of the world’s five mostStaff Writer attractive mining investment destinations. Its minerals policy is alsoJesus f. llantoPurPle s. roMero one of 10 worst in the world. The legacy of the mining industry here is aJenny lynne aguilar string of abandoned mines, tailings waste pollution, and disasters.ResearchersJose y. Dalisay Jr. The Philippines is not conducive to socially responsible mining—notEditorial Consultant yet. There’s a lot of cleaning up to be done. The national government canleanne Jazul start by making mining companies pay up for the damages that theirArt Director operations are expected to bring.Buck Pago Roel landinginPhotographer The Foundation for the Philippine Environment saw, as we did, the need to put matters in perspective before the government grants any more mining permits. They provided funding for thisPublished byPublic Trust Media Group Inc. special issue. Editorial judgment was left to us.with editorial and businessoffices at Unit 202, Roel Landingin, our guest editor, came up with a very comprehensive lineup of stories. This is the firstS & F Condominium journalistic assessment of the mining industry since the Supreme Court upheld the mining act in 2004.137-B Panay Avenue,Quezon City 1103 Philippines We invite you to establish with us whether miners and officials have learned from mining’s ugly past.Telephone: +632-920-0097Fax: +632-920-3611www.newsbreak.com.phglenDa M. gloriachay florentino hofileñaMa-an B. hontiVeros Miriam Grace A. Goroel lanDinginMarites Dañguilan Vitug Assistant Managing EditorMembers of the Board gigigo_newsbreak@yahoo.com JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 3
  3. 3. c o N t e N t S 3 Dear reaDer OvERvIEW 5 unearthing strife By Roel Landingin EnvIROnMEnT 12 not fit for Mining By Chay Florentino Hofileña 17 Dirty Past By Roel Landingin and Jenny Aguilar 20 not all Minerals aiD health By Ana Marie Leung, MD COMMUnITIES 22 ProtracteD War By Aries Rufo 26 BishoPs anD actiVists By Aries Rufo 28 on shaky grounD By Carmela Fonbuena POlICy 31 local solutions By Roel Landingin 34 a safe heDge By Germelino Bautista, PhD IMAGES 36 reVisiting raPu-raPu Text by Chay Florentino Hofileña Photographs by Gigie Cruz FOCUS On lUzOn 42 gunning for nickel By Carmela Fonbuena 44 Breaching the BarricaDes By Roel Landingin 46 Defaulting on nature By Prime SarmientoFOCUS On ThE vISAyAS 49 seconD life By Earl Parreño FOCUS On MInDAnAO 52 fostering DePenDence By Purple Romero 56 surrogate state By Purple Romero 58 DiViDe anD rule By Gemma Bagayaua FIRST PERSOn 62 the Peaks of taMPakan By Purple Romero 63 Data Mining By Jenny Aguilar coNtributorS Jenny aguilar is a Newsbreak researcher. geMMa Bagayaua is Newsbreak’s online coordinator. gerMelino Bautista teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University. carMela fonBuena covers Congress for Newsbreak. chay florentino hofileña teaches journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University and is a board member of the Public Trust Media Group. roel lanDingin is Manila correspondent of the Financial Times and is a board member of the Public Trust Media Group. ana Marie leung is chairperson of the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine at Saint louis University in Baguio City. earl Parreño is a director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms. PurPle roMero is a Newsbreak researcher. aries rufo is Newsbreak senior reporter and covers politics, the judiciary, the gigie CRuz Church, labor, health, and other social issues. PriMe sarMiento is a writing fellow of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Cover photograph by gigie cruz4 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  4. 4. o v e r v i e wUnearthing strifeRising metal prices and friendly government policy spur a surge in investments and set off a spate of conflicts. Protracted disputes may hold the industry back. By Roel lAndinGin manix abReRat o friends and foes alike, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan was just being his usual self―rough, tough, and heavy-hand- ed―when, last April, he helped subdue the civilian security guards of a Bulacan mine whose ownership is being disputed. Then he figured in a similar incident in Zambales province, acting this time on behalf of a mining company that wanted to control the Masinloc port where mineral ores are loaded onto oceangoing ships. JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 5
  5. 5. Palparan’s involvement in mining dis- Still, there is no doubt that the mining in-putes―and his tendency to use excessive Rise And sHine dustry in the Philippines is recovering fromforce to overwhelm opponents―signals mineral prices in the last five years a prolonged slump since the mid-1990s.that conflicts over mining claims are tak- While still beneath the peak in the golD $/ounceing a nasty, vicious turn. 1980s, the number of large-scale metal- In February, security personnel from 1000 lic mines rose by more than half from 900DMCI Mining Corp. and A3Una, which 14 in 2003 to 21 in 2007. The new mines 800are parties to a dispute over huge nickel included Toronto Ventures Inc.’s goldand chromite deposits in Sta. Cruz, Zam- 700 mine in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte,bales, almost clashed over control of ac- 600 and Lafayette Mining Ltd.’s polymetalliccess to the Balitoc pier, according to a 500 mine in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, which fig-report in the Manila Times. 400 ured in two toxic waste spills in 2005. 300 Rising tensions among mining claim- Atlas Consolidated Mining and Devel-ants prompted the Zambales police chief, 200 opment Corp. is set to reopen this year Jan00 Jan01 Jan02 Jan03 Jan04 Jan05 Jan06 Jan07 Jan08 Jul00 Jul01 Jul02 Jul03 Jul04 Jul05 Jul06 Jul07 Jul08Sr. Supt. Rolando Felix, to call for what a copper mine, which used to be Asia’she called a “peace forum” among mining coPPer ($/lb) biggest copper mine until it was closedsecurity managers, many of whom used 5.000 because of flooding in 1994, with strongto be former Armed Forces officers, to support from host communities in To-avert possible bloodshed. 4.000 ledo City in the island province of Cebu. An Australian mining company chief Benguet Corp., which used to be the 3.000told Newsbreak that there are cases where country’s biggest gold producer, has re-armed forces units are on one side of the 2.000 started gold milling operations in Aku-dispute while the police are on the other. pan, Benguet, that was closed down in 1.000 1990 after the Baguio earthquake. Lackingemerging boom 0.000 money to hire its workers back, it instead The escalation of mining-related con- JUnE 03 MAy 04 MAy 05 APR 07 MAR 08 entered into an ore-sharing agreementflicts represents the underside of a min- nickel ($/lb) with small-scale miners who deliver oreing boom that is beginning to take shape 30.000 to the company for processing.in the Philippines amid soaring global Approved mining exploration and pro-prices of valuable metals such as gold, duction permits almost doubled to 447 incopper, and nickel, which now sell at 20.000 2007 from only 294 four years before. Ap-twice or thrice the levels three years ago. plications for mining permits rose from More than three years after the Su- 2,073 to 2,458 during the same period.preme Court famously reversed itself and 10.000 Large-scale mining is beginning toupheld the 1995 Mining Act in December stimulate the economy of host communi-2004, the value of copper, gold, nickel, and ties, barangays, and towns nationwide. 0.000other precious metals mined in the Philip- JUnE 03 MAy 04 MAy 05 APR 07 MAR 08 However, the industry’s overall econom-pines more than doubled from only P41.1 Source: Kitco.com ic impact remains negligible. Mining jobsbillion in 2003 to P95 billion last year. The grew from 104,000 in 2003 to 139,000 inbulk of the increase came from higher posits in Tampakan, South Cotabato. 2007 but the proportion to total employ-global prices but volumes also went up by The actual numbers are less than the ment remained at a marginal 0.4 percent.29 percent. Nickel output surged five-fold government’s targets, with cumulative Similarly, taxes, fees, and royalties col-between 2004 and 2007. (See graph.) investments between 2004 and 2007 lected by the national government and lo- Investments in large-scale mining ven- reaching $1.4 billion, almost just half of cal government units from mining moretures also began coming in. From almost the $2.4-billion target. than quadrupled from P1.5 billion innothing before 2004, funds to explore, de- So far, it’s the relatively small projects 2003 to P6.4 billion in 2006. However, as avelop, and open up new mines averaged such as Toronto Ventures Inc.’s Canatuan proportion of total government revenue,US$264 million per year between 2004 mine, Lafayette Mining Ltd.’s Rapu-Rapu the amount was still less than 1 percent,and 2006, and rose to $605 million last mine, and Crew Gold’s Masara mine that a sign that government revenue fromyear. (See graph on page 9.) are onstream. The bigger copper and nick- mining continues to be insignificant. This Mining investments are seen to soar to el projects, such as Saggitarius’s Tampa- reinforces the view of many experts that$892 million this year, $1.8 billion next year, kan project, have been delayed because of the fiscal regime under the 1995 Miningand $4.1 billion in 2010 amid expectations technical or environmental issues. Act is heavily stacked against the statethat global mining giants, such as Xstrata of Artemio Disini, chairman of the Cham- and in favor of the mining companies.Switzerland, will invest $2 billion through ber of Mines in the Philippines, says theselocal affiliate Saggitarius Mining Inc. to de- large-scale mining ventures will likely Higher Stakesvelop what could be Southeast Asia and start operation in 2012 and 2013 instead Rising mineral prices and attractiveWestern Pacific’s biggest new copper de- of 2009-2010 as originally expected. geologic prospects have raised the stakes6 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  6. 6. o v e r v i e wFLAsH POinTsa sampling of mining-related conflicts in 2007 and 2008 kasiBu, nueVa Vizcaya Apr. 2008: nueva vizcaya Gov. luisa lloren Cuaresma orders the closure of OceanaGold ltd. for refusing to pay local quarrying taxes. The provincial government issues a cease and desist order directing Delta Corp. and Oceana Gold Philippines to stop from their ongoing sta cruz, zaMBales earth quarrying activities in the Didipio Gold-Copper Project. Feb. 2008: The DEnR confiscates some May 2008: Pro-mining village leader and former OceanaGold employee 200,000 metric tons of “illegally mined” is shot to death amid rising tensions in Didipio, where Cuaresma has nickel ore worth $4 million seized in the set up a barricade to stop the company’s mining operations after it private port of mining firm A3 UnA Corp. ignored the provincial government’s tax assessment. Feb. 2008: Security personnel from DMCI Mining Corp. and A3Una, which Doña reMeDios triniDaD, Bulacan are parties to a dispute over huge nickel Apr. 2008: Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan subdues and chromite deposits, almost clash over civilian security guards of a Bulacan mine that is a subject of control of access to the Balitoc pier. an ownership dispute. he also figures in a similar incident in zambales a few weeks after. laBo, caMarines norte Manila Oct. 2007: The nPA attacks El Dore Mining afterMar. 2008: Anti-mining lawmakers and the company refuses to pay “revolutionary taxes.”nGOs file a new case challenging theconstitutionality of provisions in the 1995 caraga regionMining Act on Financial or Technical Apr. 2008: President Arroyo directs topAssistance Agreements (FTAA) and Mineral military officials to deploy the so-calledProduction Sharing Agreements (MPSA). Investment Defense Force to ensure theUnlike the previous case against FTAA, the safety of mining companies in the Caraganew suit could potentially hurt more mining region after a spate of nPA attacks sinceprojects because there are over 200 the start of the year.MPSAs compared to only two FTAAs. siBuyan islanD, roMBlon Monkayo, coMPostela ValleyOct. 2007: Armin Marin, a councilor Apr. 2008: Southeast Mindanao Goldknown for opposing mining, is shot Mining Corp. files a petition askingdead while leading a protest by the Supreme Court to review a 1996some 150 islanders against a nickel ruling upholding the government’sexploration project. right to take full control of Diwalwal. The firm also reveals that the siPalay, negros occiDental government has entered into a deal granting mining rights in Diwalwal to Mar. 2007: Farmers in Sipalay City, zTE International, an affiliate of the negros Occidental, urge their city Chinese firm involved in the $329- council to oppose mining operations million broadband controversy. of Colet Mining Development Corp. in Barangay Malucaboc. Apr. 2008: Monkayo village leader Franco Tito warns of fresh bloodshed if the government awards mining Brooke’s Point, PalaWan rights in the gold-rush area to Apr. 2008: The Brooke’s Point Chinese firm zTE International. Federation of Tribal Councils stages a mass action against taMPakan, south cotaBato proposed mining operations Jan. 2008: nPAs attack Sagittarius in Palawan, especially in Mt. autonoMous region in MusliM MinDanao Mines’ base camp, destroying P12 mil- Mantalingahan Protected Feb. 2008: The Moro Islamic liberation Front (MIlF) asks the lion worth of property. landscape. Arroyo administration to halt all mining applications within May 2008: B’Laan tribesmen hold for the proposed Bangsamoro territory, mostly located in the a few hours Canadian geologists and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Jun Mantawil, the their Filipino companions, according to chief of the MILF’s peace panel secretariat, says the move the police. SMI says they were merely was meant to help restore the credibility of the Mindanao blocked from entering certain areas. peace process. JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 7
  7. 7. o v e r v i e win conflicts over mining claims, trans- May, Switzerland’s Xstrata, which has a mines, irresponsible mining waste dis-forming longstanding but relatively be- 62.5-percent interest in the prospective posal practices, and devastating miningnign disputes, quite common in the Phil- copper deposits in Tampakan, South Co- accidents, such as when Marcopper Min-ippines where recordkeeping is poor, into tabato, made a surprise bid to buy Aus- ing Corp. released 2-3 million tons of minebitter and potentially deadly clashes. tralia’s Indophil Resources, which holds waste into the Boac River in Marinduque They have also attracted higher financial the remaining 37.5 percent. province, flooding farmlands and villagesexactions from the communist New People’s Indophil resisted, and called the offer along the 26-kilometer waterway.Army (NPA), which has stepped up attacks “unrealistically opportunistic.” It said Reaching a national consensus on min-against mining companies that refused to that Xstrata wanted to acquire the entire ing amid these conflicts is harder underheed its demands for “revolutionary taxes.” Tampakan prospect, the largest undevel- these circumstances, as Department of En- On New Year’s Day this year, the NPA oped copper deposit in Southeast Asia vironment and Natural Resources (DENR)burned down several buildings at Sagit- and Western Pacific. It said Xstrata’s of- Secretary Lito Atienza knows only tootarius’s remote base camp in Tampakan, fer price of $397 million “does not reflect well. He is spending more and more of hisSouth Cotabato. An international securi- the value of Indophil.” time managing conflicts among the differ-ty consultancy that advises multinational The rise in conflicts from overlapping ent mining claimants. The former mayorfirms operating in the Philippines noted mining claims is adding to the primor- of Manila even had to personally overseethat attacks or encounters involving the dial debates on the impact of large-scale the seizure of nickel ores said to be illegal-NPA surged from only five in December2007 to 12 in January 2008 in the Davao-Compostela region, a mineral-rich area. career shift. Mining industry leaders complain maj. gen. Jovito Palparan (Ret.) oversees securitythe NPA exactions have become more forces that allegedly tooksystematic recently. A foreign mining over ore asia mining andcompany chief told Newsbreak: “The development Corp. inNPA has engineers who look at your bulacanoperations. They go to MGB (Mines andGeosciences Bureau) and get the mineraldeposit of the area and, from there, theycalculate. They also go to the companyWeb site. Then, they compute.” Indeed, vastly higher nickel priceseven turned old family and businesspartners―the Atayde and Lecaros fami-lies, for example―into bitter adversar-ies in the battle for control of low-gradenickel laterite deposits in Narra and Sof-ronio Española towns in Palawan. The Platinum Metals Group Corp.of the Atayde family is now protestingmoves by the Lecaros’s Olympic Mines, mining on the environment and local ly extracted in Zambales.the original claimant to the area, to revoke communities, and the longstanding com- Atienza is credited with opening upa longstanding operating agreement with plaints by local officials about their lack lines of communication between the min-Platinum. Olympic has assigned the min- of authority over mining projects. ing industry and the Catholic bishops. Heing rights to another company, Citinickel Across the country, residents and local also won the admiration of the mining in-Mining Development Corp. governments of communities, towns, and dustry and local government units after The dispute has involved no less than provinces hosting at least 14 large-scale he found a way for the LGUs to directlythe provincial governor, Joel Reyes, who mining projects are strongly opposed to receive their share of excise taxes on min-is facing corruption charges before the mining, according to the MGB. These in- eral production from mining companies.Sandiganbayan for granting a small-scale clude Nueva Vizcaya, Marinduque, Rom- The innovative move is widely expectedmining permit to Platinum. blon, Albay, and Zamboanga del Sur. to help address the local officials’ com- “Trouble started when nickel prices The toxic mining waste spills in Austra- plaints about not getting their fair shareskyrocketed in the last couple of years,” lian firm Lafayette Mining Ltd.’s polyme- of revenues from mining activities.said Linggoy Atayde, one of the found- tallic mine in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, in Oc- However, even before the Deparment ofers of Platinum. “Before that, everything tober 2005 perked up fresh opposition to Finance (DOF) and the Department of Bud-was smooth sailing.” large-scale mining throughout the Philip- get and Management (DBM) could put the Even global mining companies in joint pines. It raised doubts if the government new system into place, trouble erupted inventures to look for mineral wealth in the and the mining industry have indeed left Nueva Vizcaya, where the provincial gov-Philippines are not spared from strife. In behind their ugly legacy of abandoned ernor herself, Lourdes Cuaresma, is leading8 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  8. 8. a blockade against OceanaGold, the Aus- slows, warn that delayed regulatory ap- ing, not even the DENR secretaries. Eventralian mining company that is set to start provals in the Philippines could force com- President Fidel Ramos said that miningcommercial operations on a copper mine in panies to rethink projects in the country. was just being tolerated. We were a voiceKasibu town next year. A big worry for mining investors is the in the wilderness in advocating that min- The provincial government, which is risk that government’s supportive policy ing still had a role to play in developmentunhappy with OceanaGold’s failure to de- could wane because of populist pressures in if properly done,” he says.liver on a promise to build a road from the the event of a big mining disaster or the exi- A foretaste of what it’s going to be like if aprovincial capital of Bayombong to Ka- gencies of political survival. Foreign mining big mining disaster happens became clear insibu, has levied a quarry tax on the com- investors generally have a low level of trust the wake of the two toxic mining waste spillspany’s earth-moving operations. When in the consistency of Philippine government in Lafayette Mining’s polymetallic mine inthe company refused to pay, the governor mining policies and regulations. Rapu-Rapu, Albay, in October 2005.led provincial officials in putting up a bar- Horacio Ramos, director of the Mines In March 2006, President Gloria Arroyoricade to prevent equipment from getting and Geosciences Bureau, recalls how the ordered a review of the 1995 Mining Act,in and out of the mining area. government turned excessively hostile which was upheld by the Supreme Court towards mining in the aftermath of the just a little over a year before, after the in-constraints 1996 Marcopper disaster. fluential Catholic Bishops Conference of the The flood of fresh and longstanding “Nobody in government wanted min- Philippines called for its repeal and for adisputes could hold back the incipient moratorium on large-scale mining. She alsomining boom that the government is hop- appointed Bishop Arturo Bastes, a Catholic buCk Pagoing will help drive economic growth, cre- prelate known for his critical stance againstate jobs, and lift millions from poverty. large-scale mining, to head an independent They add to mining investor concerns commission to investigate the disaster.about the communist guerrilla attacks and Arroyo’s actions were clearly drivenred tape that could hold back mining proj- more by short-term political consider-ects for years despite government support ations. She had just survived anotherfor the industry to attract foreign invest- attempt by disgruntled military officersments in large-scale mining projects. to oust her from power, and needed the While mining industry leaders think that Catholic bishops’ support badly amidlocal community resistance has eased some- growing calls for her to step down overwhat, they complain that the permissions allegations over corruption and cheatingprocess remains long and complex. Oceana- in the May 2004 presidential elections.Gold’s mining project in Nueva Vizcaya Still, the mining industry complainedtook 20 years and counting to get started. about what looked like a shift in govern- “The slow pace of approvals by the ment policy “from active promotion of theDENR and MGB for exploration permits, previous two years to one of cautious re-environmental clearance certificates, and consideration of policy reforms,” accordingmining permits has not improved,” says to the Chamber of Mines’ letter to Arroyo.the Chamber of Mines’ Disini. mines and geosciences bureau director Horacio Ramos In that letter, Benjamin Philip Romual- That has forced some companies to by- dez, the chamber’s president, warned:pass the national mining regulators by BOOMinG “This has led mining companies to be-securing temporary permits from local mining investments in the Philippines ($ million) lieve and confirm their early suspicionsofficials. “In nickel projects, some com- that investment policies in the Philip- 4,500.0panies resort to getting small-scale min- 4,141.0 pines are not stable and are heighteneding permits to develop and operate their 4,000.0 by high political risks.”properties earlier,” Disini says. “The Politically-motivated policy shifts haveconflict between legitimate large-scale 3,500.0 not helped improve mining investors’mines and illegitimate companies needs 3,000.0 confidence in the Philippines. The latestto be resolved at a higher level.” FORECAST survey by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian The MGB has not approved a single fi- 2,500.0 2,210.2 think tank, showed that most of the inter-nancial or technical assistance agreement 2,000.0 1,845.1 national mining company executives re-(FTAA) with a mining company since garded Philippine mineral policy as onethe landmark Supreme Court ruling. The 1,500.0 of the 10 worst in the world even thoughtwo existing FTAAs were signed back in 1,000.0 892.0 they regarded the country’s mineral po-the 1990s though there are now 53 appli- 461.3 605.0 tential as one of the five most attractive.cations compared to 40 in 2003. 500.0 139.5 191.4 Some investors, already worried by the 0 Flip-Flopsglobal credit crunch and the possible eas- 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 Experts trace the instability of govern-ing of metal prices as the world economy Source: Mines and Geosciences Bureau ment policies to conflicts between the min- JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 9
  9. 9. ing industry and the various sectors, such communities and indigenous peoplesas the indigenous peoples and local com- CROWded subsisting on swidden agriculture, hunt-munities, that are affected by an intensely Population densities of five most favored mining countries ing, and fishing.disruptive activity such as mining. 300 “The government likes to say the Phil- Formal, governmental mechanisms ippines is a highly mineralized countryfor resolving the disputes and debate are 250 and point to maps showing big gold,either ignored, do not work properly, or copper, or nickel deposits in many areasare deeply distrusted, prolonging and 200 around the country,” says La Viña. “I tell POPUlATIOn/SQ. KMintensifying the conflict over time. Policy them, yes, that’s true, but those areas arechanges and reversals reflect swings in 150 also densely populated and rich in biodi-the balance of power of the parties to the versity.” (See map on page 32.)debate, they explain. 100 The Fraser Institute survey of global “I don’t think we can have policy sta- mining company executives lists thebility on mining unless we find a way to 50 Philippines as one of the top five coun-resolve the conflicts and issues surround- tries in the world in terms of attractiveing the industry more credibly,” says An- 0 mineral potentials, along with Russia,tonio La Viña, a former undersecretary at PHiliPPineS gHana bRazil PaPua RuSSia Brazil, Ghana, and Papua New Guinea. neW guineathe DENR and now dean of the Ateneo But the Philippines stands apart from the Source: Fraser Institute for country rankings;de Manila School of Government, which other countries in the list for its extreme- World Bank for population densitiesrecently launched a research program on ly high population density of 277 peopleenvironment and natural resources gov- per square kilometer. That is eight timesernance. vested interests,” says Filomeno Sta. Ana the average population density of the The Philippine mining industry’s and other members of the Action for Eco- four other countries. (See graph.)legacy of tailings waste pollution that nomic Reforms in a critique of the govern- Canada and Australia, where most ofhas contaminated at least 14 major river ment’s mining revitalization program. the international mining companies oper-systems, abandoned mines that are now At heart, the conflicts are about com- ating in the Philippines come from, haveshowing signs of acid mine drainage, and munities’ access to land and other natu- some of the lowest population densitiesenvironmentally devastating mining di- ral resources such as forests, watersheds, in the world. In Australia, there are onlysasters have made communities distrust- and wildlife habitats that could be totally 2.6 people per square kilometer, while inful of not only of the mining companies or partially blocked by mining activities. Canada, the figure is only 3.2. That meansbut also of the government that failed to Because the Philippines is an archi- there are about 80 to 100 times more peo-properly regulate them. pelago made up of thousands of small ple per unit area in the Philippines than “Socially responsible mining cannot islands and is densely populated, many in either Canada or Australia.thrive, given the dominance of weak insti- areas with high concentrations of mineral Approved mining claims already covertutions, resulting in regulatory capture by deposits are often populated by upland almost half a million hectares of land but malaCaÑang PHoto and aSia SoCiety auStRalaSia CentRetWo faces. President arroyo visits Catholic bishop Ramon Villena to personally greet him during his 67th birthday in bayombong, nueva Vizcaya, in march 2006. Villena is leading thecampaign against mining in the province by firms such as australia’s oceanagold, whose executives posed with arroyo during her visit to australia in September last year. From left: Philippineambassador ernesto de leon, oceanagold chairman Jim askew, oceanagold chief executive Stephen orr, and oceanagold (Philippines) Chairman Jose leviste Jr.10 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  10. 10. o v e r v i e wthe MGB has said that another 8 millionhectares are “highly mineralized” thatcould be explored and developed in thefuture. That could set the stage for evenfiercer conflicts between mining interestsand local communities. Germelino Bautista, in a paper writ-ten for the Ateneo School of Governmentprogram in natural resources governance,estimates that more than 80 percent ofthe 15.8 million hectares of public forestlands are already categorized as timber-land with tenure, national parks, gamerefuge and bird sanctuaries, wildlife ar-eas, and established forest reserves. “Sowhere will the prospective mineralizedareas identified by the MGB amountingto about 8 million hectares come from?” akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-baraquel bayan muna Rep. teodoro Casiñoasked Bautista. Fresh Challenge The country’s laws provide for proce-dures—local government consent, socialacceptability or free, prior, and informedconsent (FPIC) in the case of indigenous speoples— to settle these conflicting ettled jurisprudence seems to be alien to judicial decisions on the mining in-claims and interests on land and natural dustry.resources. However, the government has Just 11 months after the Supreme Court declared the 1995 Mining Act un-not invested enough to empower the lo- constitutional in January 2004, the high court reversed itself and said the legis- lation was consistent with the country’s basic law after all.cal government and communities to par- In March 2008, lawmakers belonging to the Akbayan and Bayan Muna parties filed twoticipate in the processes meaningfully. new suits with the Supreme Court raising fresh questions on the constitutionality of someNeither has it put enough safeguards to provisions of the mining law.ensure that the consent-giving process This time, it’s not just the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA), whichwould not be subject to manipulation by allow foreign companies to own 100 percent of mining projects in the Philippines, that arepowerful parties. being assailed but also provisions that apply to Mineral Production Sharing Agreements Not many local governments have the (MPSA). That could have broader implications because there are 262 MPSAs comparedcapability to estimate the economic value of to only two FTAAs.maintaining biodiversity of a certain tract One of the suits questions the constitutionality of the mining law’s provisions on MPSAs inof forest land so this could be compared Section 80, and seeks to nullify such agreements that have been issued to mining companies.with the projected benefits of mining. The section states: “The total government share in a mineral production sharing agree- ment shall be the excise tax on mineral products.” Even the DENR has few experts on The petitioners argue that the provision is unconstitutional because it limits the govern-natural resources valuation. “We used to ment’s share in revenue from MPSAs to excise taxes only, effectively allotting nothing tohave experts in environment and natural the State as owner of the mineral resource.resources accounting at the policy and The other petition against FTAAs was prompted by then Environment Secretary Angeloplanning division but they’re all gone Reyes’s attempt to get a better deal for the government in future assistance agree-now,” said Ramon Paje, an undersecre- ments.tary at the Department of Environment In July 2007, Reyes issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2007-12 that re-and Natural Resources. “Most became vised the FTAA guidelines on how revenues are shared between government and theconsultants in the private sector.” mining company. Instead of allowing mining companies to choose from three options, the With no credible system to manage new order fixed the revenue sharing scheme. The government effectively receives half ofconflicts, mining policy in the Philippine net mining revenue or gross output less deductible expenses. Reyes issued the order ostensibly to simplify the process of negotiating FTAAs withwill continue to be very tentative, and mining companies but he also wanted to improve government’s revenue share frommarked by an endless series of reviews, FTAAs. he admitted that given the three options, the mining firms will likely choose theshifts, and even reversals depending on option based on excess profits, which only kicks in when the company’s profitability ratiothe prevailing political mood. exceeds 40 percent. That seldom happens. The chances of the government getting ad- Mineral prices are inherently volatile ditional revenues under the scheme are “somewhere from zero to nil,” he said.but they at least move along price cycles Still, the petitioners are dissatisfied with Reyes’s move because it applies only to futurelasting at least half a decade long. Min- FTAAs and not to the two existing agreements. Indeed, Reyes’s order gives the two FTAAing policy cycles in the Philippines tend holders—OceanaGold and Sagittarius Mines Inc.—the option to shift to the new systemto have a much shorter duration. n or stick with the old one. The order also leaves MPSAs untouched. —roel landingin JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 11
  11. 11. eNviroNMeNtnot Fit for MiningSet to resume in July, mining operations in Rapu-Rapu are stillexpected to pose threats to the environment, modern technologynotwithstanding. Strict monitoring is recommended.By ChAy FloRentino hoFileñAJ uly 1 marks another milestone in the stalled Rapu-Rapu mining project in Albay province. By then, a new group of Korean inves- tors would have taken over operations that the government, inves- tors, and anti-mining advocates are watching for different reasons. Located on the eastern side of Southern has refused to go away. It has not helpedLuzon, the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Proj- any that two other fish kill events wereect is expected to yield 10,000 metric tons reported afterwards―in 2006 and againof copper, 50,000 ounces of gold, 600,000 late last year.ounces of silver, and 14,000 metric tons Previously ordered by the Departmentof zinc annually. Projecting a mine life of of Environment and Natural Resourcesabout seven years from the exploration (DENR) to cease operations in 2005, andto production stages, the mining compa- after a corporate handover that saw ne-ny’s technical experts say that the project gotiations ending only in April this year,could extend all the way to 2012. the Rapu-Rapu project is racing to make Rapu-Rapu is significant because it up for lost time. Now controlled by a Ko-was, for a time, viewed as a test case of rean group that consists of LG Interna-whether “minerals investment in the tional Corp. (LGIC) and Kores Inc., a Ko-Philippines is an acceptable business rean government company, the projectproposition from a risk perspective,” ac- “will strictly follow DENR regulationscording to Roderick Watt, former coun- on the environment,” Scott Kim, LGICtry manager of Lafayette Mining Ltd., chief representative, promises.former majority owners of the project. The resignation in early June of the The success of the project is important management team led by former Envi-to a government wanting to resuscitate an ronment Secretary Carlos Dominguez ofindustry that has remained almost dor- LPI has prompted a reorganization thatmant for more than two decades. After will likely spell no changes in the com-reaching its peak in the 1970s under for- pany’s choice of technology to mitigatemer President Marcos, mining produced adverse effects on the environment.copper and gold that accounted for one- Residents of the direct impact baran-fifth of the country’s total exports in 1980. gays Malobago, Binosauan, and Pagcol-By 1992, this dropped considerably to a bon regard the mining operations withlittle more than 6 percent, thus the passage a mix of betrayal, anticipation, and dis-of the more liberal mining act in 1995. trust. They enumerate unfulfilled prom- To the Arroyo administration, Rapu- ises made by previous owners, and re-Rapu is a badly needed showcase to blunt main apprehensive about the long-termwell-deserved criticism of mining opera- effects of the spills on their livelihoodtions that have left behind mostly sordid and the safety of the project’s 17-hectaretales of devastation and destruction. open-pit mine. Close to three years after two cyanide The project is estimated to have a po-spills believed to have caused “fish kills” tential investment of US$42 million and Danger Beneath.in the area, the stigma associated with potential gross sales of $41 million a year. lafayette mining’sthe Australian mining company, Lafay- About 81 percent of the project hires come tailings dam inette Mining Ltd., and its domestic sub- from the Bicol region and Rapu-Rapu it- Rapu-Rapu islandsidiary, Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI), self, says Joey Cubias, vice president for gigie CRuz12 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  12. 12. JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 13
  13. 13. eNviroNMeNtindustrial and community relations, em- Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) of measures taken by the company.phasizing how the local community has the University of the Philippines, assert In their final report, David and Rome-benefited from operations. that if applied properly, technology can ro pointed out that the mining company Cubias admits that because of the address the destructive effects of AMD. should resort to lime dosing only duringmostly negative experiences with mining Continuous “lime dosing” during op- emergency situations such as when therehere, “our challenge is to be the model of erations and “encapsulation” after the life is an overflow in settling ponds wherethe mining industry in the Philippines.” of the mine are among the most common wastes are treated. Lime dosing, accord- methods used in AMD areas. The use of ing to them, is “costly, time-consuming,acid Mine drainage alkaline chemicals like hydrated lime de- and erratic as it depends on the avail- The biggest challenge they actually face creases acidity and keeps dissolved met- ability of the material. It is also a reactiveis proving that they will be able to control als from forming solids or sediments in method rather than a preventive one,the harmful effects on the environment of waterways. and usually will be carried out when theacid mine drainage (AMD), a naturally Encapsulation entails capping AMD- problem already exists.”occurring phenomenon in the area. generating material with compacted clay David warns that when extracting re- AMD, according to Dr. Emelina Regis materials that are covered with topsoil sources, mining companies should beof the Ateneo de Naga’s Institute for En- planted to grass and trees. Vegetation conscious that a significant amount ofvironmental Conservation and Research, prevents erosion of the topsoil, which in money should go to the rehabilitationhappens naturally “when iron sulfide turn prevents the clay from drying and of the mined areas. Before counting rev-rocks are exposed to oxygen in the air cracking. Cracks are lethal because they enues, they should factor in the environ-and water resulting in a chemical reac- will allow the seepage of AMD material. mental costs which might make opera-tion that produces sulfuric acid and red In their assessment of RRPI’s AMD con- tions not worth the trouble after all.iron sulfate precipitate.” trol strategies after fieldwork in October This precipitate, according to her new- 2006, David and Rustica Romero of NIGS toxinsly released book, Impacts of Mining in an pointed out that at the time, the company In Rapu-Rapu, reported fish kills inIsland Ecosystem: The Case of Rapu-Rapu was able to manage AMD. They, howev- 2005 and 2006 were followed by anotherIsland in the Philippines, “coats rocks and er, recommended the pursuit of research occurrence in October 2007. This prompt-sediments along the river course, making on new methods of AMD treatment and ed Regis and her team to investigate.the whole expanse of the affected section “daily monitoring of surface waters.” They went to the area in November lastappear red. In addition, the acid dissolves An MGB Technical Working Group year to collect water samples and analyzeheavy metals contained in the rocks. The (TWG) tasked to monitor a test run of the them. They found tremendously highacid and heavy metals are toxic to living mining project’s operations after the two levels of copper and cadmium in sedi-organisms, thus killing them, rendering cyanide spill incidents in October 2005 ments, indicating that these metals hadthe river dead.” echoed the views of the third-party ex- already attached themselves to the silt, “In islands capable of AMD, the dam- perts about the non-sustainability of lime clay, and sand particles of the sediments.age is long-lasting in terms of agricul- dosing. The test run was intended to de- This, they attribute to the barrier createdtural productivity, clean and safe fresh- termine the adequacy of environmental by the mining company.water supply, and sustainable fishery gigie CRuzresources…. Once AMD starts, it cannotbe stopped or even remediated under thepresent technology,” Regis warns. The AMD management plan submit-ted by Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc. (RRMI)to Mines and Geosciences Bureau Direc-tor Horacio Ramos in August 2006 con-cedes that mining activities can acceler-ate AMD. It goes on to say that AMDis “recognized as potentially the singlelargest cause of detrimental environ-mental impact resulting from mining ofsulphidic ores. The generation of AMDfrom a mine waste dump and tailingsimpoundment can cause deteriorationof [the] quality of receiving waters if it ispresent in sufficient quantities and is not hyPeraciDity.effectively managed.” Thus, the need for mouth of the Pagcolbon creek that carried mine tailings intoa good AMD management plan. the sea in 2005. Researchers Geologists like Dr. Carlos Primo Da- found an increase in acidity ofvid, associate professor at the National the water around the area.14 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  14. 14. PHotogRaPHS by gigie CRuzengineeR ViRgilio PeRdigon FatHeR andy baliWaS dR. emelina RegiS “Barriers will only concentrate the tox- ceedingly high” in water at the upper and Regis recommends that the govern-ic metals during the dry season but will lower tailings ponds inside the mine. ment cancel all mining permits associ-eventually release them during heavy Cadmium and copper cause cancer and ated with the Environmental Compliancerainfall, but this time, at higher toxicity birth defects, and can alter body parts in Certificate granted to LPI. She also askslevels enough to kill marine organisms.… animals. Arsenic can affect growth and government units to stop granting min-Barrier or no barrier, pollution and fish reproduction, while zinc can cause disor- ing permits in Rapu-Rapu either now orkills will continue due to mining,” Regis ders in the nervous system and damage in the future. But no one is listening.says in her report. to the pancreas, among others. The toxic metals, Regis explains, are Also in 2006, the TWG found elevated wanted: Success Modelsgenerated by high volumes of waste levels of cadmium and lead in the Pag- In fairness to mining, David says he hasrocks, tailings, and overburden soil, colbon and Maypajo creeks. “These met- seen how strict monitoring and policingas well as the use of cyanide and other als apparently come from the adit and by government regulatory agencies canchemicals to extract metals from the ore. the seepage from the toe of the [mine tail- push mining companies to compliance― Father Andy Baliwas, parish priest of ings] dam,” says the TWG report, point- as was the case in Rapu-Rapu, which wasRapu-Rapu’s Sta. Florentina parish, says ing to the old tunnels of previous mines closed down. Blanket statements for orhe remembers the seawater smelling of in the area as a source. against mining cannot be made, he adds,chemicals and of the dead fish having the The presence of lead and cadmium because the situation in mining projectsscent of crushed ore. In the morning it was traced to “erosion of materials after are distinct from each other.was extremely hot before it rained heav- heavy rains.” Heavy rains likewise tend- Compromises may need to be made andily and caused dead fish to surface near ed to increase copper content in nearby benefits must be weighed against environ-the poblacion. creeks. The team, however, reported cya- mental destruction that mining could cause. In its defense, LPI says the mining site nide, arsenic, chromium, and mercury Monitoring and implementation of environ-could not have been the cause of the fish levels to be within standards. mental laws should be done. “If DENR can-kill last year because its operations had The polluted waterways have affected not patrol, forget it,” says David.been suspended. To this, Regis points to marine life and the people’s livelihood in Policing powers should be exercised byAMD as the culprit because it is a process Rapu-Rapu. Engineer Virgilio Perdigon Jr., government more strictly during opera-that is “self-generating.” secretary general of the Polytechnic Institute tions rather than before, with a threat of In her 2006 study, Regis says that metal of Aquinas University in Legazpi, says that closure for non-compliance with DENRanalysis done by her group showed high a decline in fish catch has also been report- standards, according to David.levels of cadmium, copper, and zinc in ed. Citing findings of Ibon Foundation, he Likewise, a significant amount of moneythe nearby Pagcolbon river and Ungay says that the decline in the weekly income should be allotted for the rehabilitation ofcreek. They also found high levels of ar- of fisherfolk was as high as over 93 percent mined areas and this should be commen-senic, cadmium, and copper in riverbank in Malobago and 33 percent in Binosauan, surate to the projected cost of rehabilita-sediments. Copper was found to be “ex- both direct-impact communities. tion. In the case of Marcopper, about $12 JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 15
  15. 15. million was left behind, says David, butthe money was not used efficiently. For Rapu-Rapu, an initial P137 million Acid islandhas been sought for mine rehabilitation, lEGAzPI CITy—From the skies above, the collapsing over their heads.but Manuel Banaag of MGB’s Mining, En- 5,600-hectare Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay A long-time critic of mining in Rapu-Rapu,vironment, and Safety Division, explains looks like an elongated lizard. It draws a few Dr. Emelina Regis of the Ateneo de Naga’sthat estimates are updated every two passenger boats that traverse the Albay Gulf Institute for Environmental Conservationyears. If AMD is not adequately controlled, daily, transporting locals who travel for three and Research, lists four reasons why miningsums for rehabilitation will increase. hours here or to nearby barangays. should not be done in the area: Rapu-Rapu is The government’s Abandoned Mines Smaller boats wait patiently for passengers in the typhoon path, has no dry season, is anProgram was given a P50-P60 million and residents who criss-cross the islands, un- island ecosystem with steep slopes, and has mindful of frequent rains that come their way. iron sulfide rocks capable of generating Acidbudget only recently and MGB has started Depending on the direction of the wind and Mine Drainage or AMD (see related story).a risk assessment of closed or abandoned the tides, travel time can be shorter. This is alarming especially for residents ofmines, many of them dating back to the While currents can be calmer in the morning, an area that, according to Regis, possessesMarcos period. Consolidation of regional the eastern side of the predominantly mountain- “unique biodiversity, streams with crystalassessments will be done, after which, pri- ous island faces the Pacific Ocean and is ex- clear waters, coral reefs that continually sup-orities for rehabilitation will be listed. posed to stronger winds and higher waves ideal ply fish for the local communities, and beach- Banaag says the rehabilitation design for surfing. es draped in white sand.”and engineering measures for the Baga- The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical The Philippines, she says, is one of only 17cay mine in Eastern Samar are expected to and Astronomical Services Administration megadiversity countries in the world. It hasbe completed this June. Like Rapu-Rapu, (PAGASA) characterizes Rapu-Rapu’s climate more than 52,000 species that have beenBagacay has a residual AMD problem. A as “Type II,” or having a pronounced wet pe- identified, with more than half found nowhere riod from november to February. By as early else. Its coral fauna is the richest worldwide,permit to mine the area was granted be- as May this year, however, as in most parts with 430 species, followed by Papua newcause it contains the only bauxite reserve of the country, it had already started to expe- Guinea with 380, and the Great Barrier Reefin the country, yet it was later declared rience rains. with 350.part of the Samar Island National Park, a The site of a 180-hectare mining project The country is likewise part of the Coral Trian-protected area. that was the subject of controversy first in gle that includes Indonesia, Papua new Guinea, If successful, Bagacay will be the first October 2005 because of a reported “fish and Borneo. This Triangle, Regis explains, hasrehabilitated mine in the country. Banaag kill,” Rapu-Rapu also hosts an open-pit mine the “highest coral reef diversity in the world.”says they are looking at the Brukunga that is an awesome display of human ingenu- Coral reefs are important because they servemine in Australia as a model. It was ity, color, and solid rock. The danger associ- as nursery grounds for fish resources in South-closed in 1972 and then later rehabilitat- ated with most open-pit mines is masked by east Asia.ed by the state government. Acidic water this splendor. The Philippine marine environment ecosys- At its highest point, the pit is 200 meters tem diversity is high and is believed to bewas treated and the sand-tailings dam, above sea level and at its lowest point, 40 me- greater than what is found on land. Rapu-Rapu,which was left bare, was planted to grass ters. At its longest, it stretches for 830 meters in fact, is listed among the country’s marineand native trees, which have become pro- and is about 360 meters wide. Environmental- conservation priority areas yet the nationalgressively established since 1988. ists and those who oppose open-pit mining government has given the go signal for mining If Bagacay works, it can in turn be the have been asserting that this type of mining operations here.model for Rapu-Rapu. has a strong potential of destroying nearby At the very least, this points to a clear But it appears that no amount of assur- areas because hills are leveled off to obtain conflict between conservation and mining in-ances about environmental safety or use ore deposits near the surface and because it terests, if not confused priorities for an areaof new technology can placate those who generates huge amounts of waste. possibly designed to keep miners at bay.oppose mining in the island. yet it is also the safest for workers be- —chay florentino hofileña Mining was done by the Japanese Im- cause they do not have to work underground in tunnels that are perennially in danger ofperial Army during World War II andthen by the Hixbar Mining Company,which used open pit and tunnel miningbefore abandoning the area in 1976. Theycame and made a fortune but the com-munities they left behind remained asdestitute as ever. “Mining has brought only promises,deception, and division,” Baliwas says,mirroring the cynicism of townsfolkwhose trust had been repeatedly brokenby miners who explored and exploitedthe wealth beneath them, leaving behind gigie CRuzdeep scars that have not healed. n16 | newsbreak speCIAl IssUe
  16. 16. eNviroNMeNt PlaCeR dome teCHniCal SeRViCeS, maRCoPPeR mine PoSt-SPill imPaCt aSSeSSment deCembeR 2001 Waste lanD. aerial view of the dredge channel in the boac river estuary where mine tailings from marcopper spilled into the sea in 1996dirty PastMany of the companies carrying out the biggest and most important miningprojects today have a history of releasing harmful wastewater and substancesinto the environment. By Roel lAndinGin and Jenny AGuilARL afayette Mining Ltd. is not the first nor will it be the last mining Pollution Law. By that time, Atlas, which company to suffer a disaster that adversely affects the environ- used to run Southeast Asia’s biggest cop- ment and surrounding communities. per mine, had already been closed since 1994 because of a flooding accident and Indeed, 10 companies or almost half of 2002 when the mining industry suffered labor and financial troubles.the 24 mining firms undertaking what the a slump. (See graph on page 18.) Three years before that, the Philip-government considers high-priority mining pines’ worst mining disaster happenedexpansion and development projects fig- disaster History in March 1996 when Marcopper Miningured in accidents or were the subject of pol- About six years before Lafayette’s twin Corp.’s open pit burst open and releasedlution investigation in the last two decades, mining waste spills in October 2005, At- 2 to 3 million cubic meters of mine tail-according to data compiled by Newsbreak. las Mining and Development Corp. dis- ings into the Boac River in Marinduque.Many were issued notices of violation by charged 5.7 million cubic meters of acidic The accident killed aquatic life in the 26-the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) for waste water into the Sapangkaku River in kilometer waterway and flooded farm-releasing excessive amounts of pollutants. Toledo City, Cebu. The accident, which lands and villages along its banks.(See table on page 19.) happened in August 1999, discolored the Other companies that figured in min- PAB data also shows that notices of nearby coast up to 2 kilometers from the ing accidents, according to a list com-violation are being issued once more shore and resulted in a “fish kill.” piled by Mines and Geosciences Bureauagainst mining companies after the no- The company was fined US$210,000 for (MGB) officials, include Manila Miningtices dropped to zero between 1998 and exceeding effluent limits under the Water Corp., Philex Mining Corp., and Lepanto JUly/sepTeMBeR 2008 newsbreak | 17

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