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Palawan - A Clash Between Mining and Biodiversity


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Palawan - A Clash Between Mining and Biodiversity

Palawan - A Clash Between Mining and Biodiversity

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  • Please post more pictures of Palawan if you want to advertise this campaign against mining. We need to take actions quickly to stop destruction. Philippines have suffered enough calamities from one thing to another due to humans greediness. If we allow miners in Palawan what else have we got left? None. We Filipino must unite and fight for our country. Philippines is one of the blessed country in the world. Our children will suffer if we don't look after our God's nature. Merlyn Cabuyao.
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  • ‎’NO TO MINING IN PALAWAN, and other Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), Island Ecosystems, Natural Forests and Agricultural Lands.’
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  • 1. Vol. 45 No. 7 • JULY 2011 Php 70.00
  • 2. COVERARTICLESS TO RY Palawan A clash between mining and biodiversityBy Alyansa Tigil Mina and Save Palawan Move- The expansive reserves of metal ores particularly nickelment and chromite, which lay underneath old growth forests, at- tracts mining investments into the province. The 354 approved mining applications all over Palawan constitute a major threatAfter the example of Gerry, let us say No to Mining! And, to Palawan with extensive remaining forest cover and relatedfor Gerry, let us individually affix our signature to 10 Mil- biodiversity.lion Signature Campaign for a No to Mining In Palawan Palaweños fears that damage to Palawan’s biodiversityadvocacy. Gerry has made us see the evil of mining, not will become irreparable if mining increases the threat to theonly in extracting minerals in the depths of the earth but ecosystem and to a booming eco-tourism industry of thealso in the unmasking of the truth in the depths of a person’s province. Many feel that the costs of mining far outweighheart. Let us carry on his fight to make it our own.” (Bishop its benefits.Pedro Arigo, DD, Vicar Apostolic of the Apostolic Vicariate Dr. Gerry Ortega, an environmental advocate andof Puerto Princesa) broadcast journalist who was very vocal against mining in Palawan was killed on January 24, 2011 after his morning alawan is a biodiversity hotspot in the Philippines. Few radio broadcast. He has been receiving death threats dueP places on earth can match the distinction of the prov- ince, home to seven protected areas, a declared “GameRefuge and Bird Sanctuary” since 1967, and a “Mangrove to his strong opposition to mining and exposed bribery in the government in endorsing of mining through his radio program “Ramatak” over DWAR, a local affiliate of RadyoReserve” since 1981. UNESCO declared the whole Province Mo nationwide.a Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1990. Included are two The Philippines has suffered many disastrous environ-World Heritage Sites: The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park and mental impacts from mining including the Marinduque/Boacthe Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. River mining disaster in 1996, recurrent pollution problems16 IMPACT • July 2011
  • 3. COVER ARTICLES S TO RYcaused by the Atlas mine in Toledo City, Cebu, and the Rapu- following biodiversity:rapu mine tailings spills in Albay in 2005 were among themany tragedies which offer lessons of the enormous human • 15 lakes, 42 ponds, 44 waterfalls, 72 natural springs,and environmental costs brought by mining. 9 mineral springs, 28 principal rivers, 43 streams and 165 These factors should require the Philippine government to creeks identified as potential sources of water for domesticexercise extreme caution in authorizing mining operations in consumption and irrigation;Palawan. Social awareness of this problem is widespread and • 13 out of the 16 sea grasses that can be found in thegovernment actions to prevent damage to the environment country;have led to the enactment of laws such as the Republic Act • 42,500 hectares of mangrove forests, having 31 speciesNo. 7611 otherwise known as the Strategic Environment Plan and 90% of the known mangrove species in the country;for Palawan Act or SEP Law directed towards the preven- • approximately 690,000 hectares of terrestrial forest;tion of activities and events that may adversely affect the • 8 of the 11 amphibians endemic to the Philippines areenvironmental sustainability of the province. A resolution found only in Palawan;passed in November 2008 by the Provincial Board secures • 279 species of birds are found in Palawan and 27 area 25-year moratorium on small-scale mining in Palawan. endemic to the country;However, this is not enough to prevent large-scale mining • 15 of the 25 marine mammals in the Philippines arecorporations from plundering the Island. found in Palawan; Here the picture is clear that people appears to be overwhelm- • 58 species of terrestrial mammals are recorded and 19ingly made worse because of environmental degradation and or 33% are endemic to the country and 16 are restricted tohuman rights violations attendant to mining operations in the the Mt. Mantalingahan Range;province. Government statistics attest that only a small frac- • 24 endemic reptiles and 69 species are found in the Mt.tion are benefitting from the employment generated by the Mantalingahan corridor;mining operations1 and the occasional company-sponsored • 4 of the 5 marine turtles are found in Palawan; andcommunity outreach programs. • 379 species of corals found in Palawan and 82% of the total coral species recorded in the country.Palawan: a biodiversity hotspot Palawan is home to endemic species—both flora and fauna The UNESCO declared two areas in Palawan as Worldthat cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is home Heritage sites: The Tubattaha Reed Marine Park in 1993to 30% of the country’s coral reefs, has 17 key biodiversity which covers 332 square kilometers north and south reefsareas2 (KBAs), and 8 declared protected areas. The province with very high density of marine species. The North Islets areis host to one of the areas in the country with intact old growth the nesting site for birds and marine turtles. Puerto Princesaforests.3 Subterranean River National Park in 1999 hosts some of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund Identification of most important forests in Asia, and is a site that contains aBiodiversity Hotspot recorded that Palawan comprises the full ‘mountain to sea’ ecosystem. © Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media 17 FILE PHOTO Volume 45 • Number 7
  • 4. COVERS TO RY In 1992, Republic Act No. 7611 also known as the Strategic Environment Plan for Palawan Act (SEP Law) was passed establishing a framework of development for the province that support and promote its sustainable development growth. The law especially addresses regulations referring to the environmentally critical areas networks (ECAN) of the province composed of the terrestrial or forestlands, marine or coastal area, and ancestral lands. Unfortunately, even the law recognized the presence of “mine sites in major catchments or are dangerously close to fragile shore and in-shore of marine zones.” The SEP Law endorses the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), which is in charge of governance, implementation and policy direction of SEP Law. However, the biodiversity of Palawan is under very high threat. Conservation International has identified Palawan as a sitefor threatened amphibians, mammals, birds, reptiles, and freshwater fish, as well as for restricted-range and congregatory birds,using confirmed locality data for each target species. Geo-tagging4 has also found the province and its biodiversity under threat due to some 354 mining tenements encroached inalmost 50% of its total land area, covering forest ranges of Mt. Bulanjao which is a protected area and falls under ‘core zones’5which should not be open to any development activity, and 90% of ancestral lands.History of mining in Palawan Mining has been operational in Palawan at least since the 1970s. The island province is endowed with minerals resourcesincluding gold, nickel, copper, cobalt, chromite and even mercury. To date, the resource-rich Palawan has mining applications,and various mining permits issued as presented in Table 1 below.Table 1: Mining Permits in Palawan6 Corporation/Permitee Permit No., Area coverage, location Mineral Resources Current activi- ties/stage Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation MPSA7 No. 114-98-IV issued in June 4, 1998 covering Nickel Commercial 990 hectares (has) in Bataraza, Palawan Operation Central Palawan Mining and Industrial MPSA No. 171-01-IV issued in January 16, 2001 covering Limestone Exploration Corporation 4896.1000 has in Quezon, Palawan Palawan Star Mining Ventures Inc. MPSA No. 172-01-IV issued in January 16, 2001 covering Limestone Exploration 5234.2079has in Quezon, Palawan Pyramid Hill Mining and Industrial MPSA No. 173-01-IV issued in January 16, 2001 covering Limestone Exploration Corporation 5149.9000has in Espanola, Narra and Quezon, Palawan Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation MPSA No. 213-2005-IVB issued in April 28, 2005 covering Limestone Development 84.5364has in Bataraza, Palawan MacroAsia Corporation MPSA No. 220-2005-IVB issued in December 1, 2005 Nickel, chromite, iron, and other Exploration covering 1113.9836has in Brooke’s Point, Palawan associated mineral deposits MacroAsia Corporation MPSA No. 221-2005-IVB issued in December 1, 2005 Chromite, nickel, copper and other Exploration covering 410has in Brooke’s Point, Palawan associated mineral deposits Citinickel Mines and Development MPSA No. 229-2007-IVB issued in January 3, 2007 Nickel, chromite and other Exploration Corporation covering 2176has in Narra, Sofronio Espanola, Palawan associated mineral deposits Berong Nickel Corporation MPSA No. 235-2007-IVB issued in June 8, 2007 Nickel, iron, cobalt, chromite Exploration covering 288has in Quezon, Palawan and other mineral deposits Lebach Mining Corporation MPSA No. 285-2009-IVB amended into Exploration Permit Nickel, chromite, cobalt, copper, For registration No. 00001-2009-IVB amended in November 19, 2009 gold and other mineral deposits covering 2573.3300has in Brooke’s Point, Palawan Celestial Nickel Mining Exploration MPSA No. 017-93-IV issued in September 18, 1993 Nickel Exploration Corporation covering 2835.0600 has in Brooke’s Point, Palawan Narra Nickel Mining and Development FTAA8 No. 05-2010-IVB issued in April 12, 2010 covering Nickel, cobalt and other On-going Corporation, Tesoro Mining and De- 12381.72has in Rizal, Bataraza, and Narra, Palawan associated minerals explorat¬ion velopment Corporation and McArthur Mining Inc Berong Nickel Corporation EP9 No. IVB-60 issued in February 12, 2010 covering Nickel and cobalt On-going 1069.41has in Quezon and Aborlan, Palawan explorationSource: Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as of March 2011 Today, different large-scale mining permits cover a total of 38, 202.2749 hectares of Palawan, while mining applications coveralmost the whole of the island province. Meanwhile there are 11 abandoned mine sites in Palawan as shown in the table next page. 18 IMPACT • July 2011
  • 5. Palawan: A Clash Between Mining And Biodiversity Mining Company Area of operation Mineral on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has bluntly violated all required Palawan Quicksilver Mining Sta. Lourdes, Mercury procedures leading to transparent and genuine FPIC processes, Inc. Puerto Princesa City siding instead with the mining companies.17 Atlas Consolidated Mining & Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Gold Development Corp. Princesa City Impacts of mining in Palawan Palawan Venture or Palawan Irawan, Puerto Princesa City Chromite In January 2010, through geo-tagging technology and partici- Consolidated Mining Co. patory audio-visual documentation18, it was found that mining Soriano Mining Corporation Aborlan, Puerto Princesa City Nickel tenements had intruded into identified ‘core zones’ of protection Trident Mining Corporation Narra, Palawan in Palawan. These activities will damage the province’s water Infanta Mining Corporation Brgy. Ipilan, Brooke’s Point Nickel supplies, soils, forests, rivers, corals and marine environments. Celestial Mining Corporation Brgy. Ipilan, Brooke’s Point Nickel The efforts to protect and conserve Palawan are now being put Long Point Mining Corpora- Berong, Quezon Nickel in danger and erode by the circumventing laws and encroach- tion/Soriano Mining Nickel ment even in the core protected zones is a clear violation of laws Benguet Company Inc. Balabac Gold ore by mining companies. These widespread abuses further put the Nin Bay Mining Corporation Roxas, Palawan Silica island at higher risk to the different potential impacts of climate Republic Glass Mining Cor- Roxas, Palawan Silica change. poration Anda and Galido (2006)19 identified several socio-cultural,Source: Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) economic and environmental impacts of mining in Palawan in the Since the early 1970s, the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation thirty years of mining activities there. Identified environmental(RTNMC) has been operating in the municipality of Bataraza in impacts include the following:Southern Palawan. Its operations started when the nickel depositin Rio Tuba was discovered in 1967. On September 18, 1970, the • Deforestation and loss of wildlife habitat for ecologicallycompany entered into a Mining Lease Contract with the Republic important flora and fauna in the mined out areas and the Gotokof the Philippines as lessor, covering 126 hectares of public land limestone quarry area;or 110 Lode Mining claims of nickel, iron and other minerals • Decrease in quantity and quality of water supply;located in Rio Tuba. The RTNMC has a mining claim of 5,265 • Adverse impact on the irrigation system and decrease inhectares of which 353 hectares are currently operated. agricultural production; Study has shown that the activities of RTNMC do not equita- • Erosion and flash floods;bly and efficiently distribute benefits from mining, and that the • Threats to coastal resources brought by erosion and efflu-impacts on the environment are not effectively monitored while ents;the environmental costs are undervalued10 . At present, RTNMC • Water and air pollution; andcontinues to mine and has recently been issued another permit • Health impacts such as skin lesions.expanding towards Mt. Bulanjao range, one of the best conservedultramafic11 forests in Palawan.12 These are the very reasons why the SEP Law was passed in Further, the exploration permit issued to MacroAsia Cor- 1992. The rationale behind the law being,poration13, Ipilan Nickel Corporation14 and Lebach Mining “The destruction of Palawan’s forests would trigger a chainCorporation15 threatens the forests and life in Brooke’s Point reaction that would bring destruction to the entire environmental(also located in Southern Palawan) as well as the survival of and ecological fabric of the province. The resulting soil erosionisolated Pala’wan communities having limited contacts with and loss of top soil would dry up underground and surface waterthe outside world. resources, nullifying the efficiency of irrigation systems and wa- MacroAsia was incorporated in the Philippines on February terworks… There is an urgent necessity to stop this deterioration.16, 1970, originally under the name Infanta Mineral & Industrial It is not enough to rely on a network of Parks in the conventionalCorporation, to engage in the business of geological exploration sense, for this would be too limited in area and arouse distrustand development. As a mining firm, it had actually mined its in local communities.”leased areas in Brooke’s Point in the 1970’s. MacroAsia Corp. It seeks to prevent further environmental degradation in theis a listed aviation support company owned by Lucio Tan. islands. However, violations of environmental and other national Lebach Mining Corporation is a domestic registered company laws and policies make mining a bigger threat to Palawan, itswith registered address Silangan House, 7606 Guijo Street, San resources and its people.Antonio Village, Makati City, Philippines. Lebach’s Chairperson This struggle against mining and towards sustainable devel-and Chief Executive Officer is Edgar L. Rodrigueza. opment has contributed to the rise in numbers of environmental According to joint reports by Ancestral Lands Domain and indigenous advocacy organizations and networks in theWatch in Palawan (ALDAW) and the Center for Biocultural province—including the Environmental Legal Action CenterDiversity (CBCD) of the University of Kent, the exploration (ELAC), Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI) Nagkakaisang mgaactivities there allow the three companies to illegally enter Tribu ng Palawan, Inc. (NATRIPAL), Ancestral Land Domain‘core zones’ and well-developed agricultural lands including Watch (ALDAW) and many others.wet rice fields and coconut plantations, tribal sacred sites and There are local government officials also opposed miningancestral lands.16 because of its threat to the treasured environment and to tourism MacroAsia Corporation and Ipilan Nickel Corporation have like Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn (first electedpermits intruding the Mt. Matalingahan Protected Landscape. in 1992), when he pursued to prioritize tourism over mining inFurther reports said Environmental Compliance Certificates were the capital of Palawan.issued then by PCSD despite the lack of social acceptance. As In 2010, ALDAW, an environmental group launched a signa-of now, also the Palawan branch of the National Commission ture campaign signed by more than 20,000 petitioners from all Volume 45 • Number 7 19
  • 6. COVERS TO RY www.alyansatigilmina.netover the world calling to stop mining in Palawan Forests. Inter- Foundation Inc.’s Bantay Kalikasan. The campaign started withnational organizations such as Rainforest Rescue and Survival the call to stop mining in the province and evolved to stoppingInternational closely partnered with ALDAW in the achievement mining activities in key biodiversity areas (KBAs), island eco-of this objective.20 systems, natural forests and agricultural areas in the country. Palaweños who are affected by mining operations and plans of Today, the signature count has already reached about more thanopening up thousands of hectares of bio-fuel and oil palm planta- 1,300,000.tions supported the launching of the campaign at the local level.Their primary campaign concerns included the following: No to mining in Palawan The main call of Palaweños and organizations on the threat of • Objection to RTNMC building roads towards a biodiversity mining is for the PCSD to strictly enforce the SEP Law and imple-hotspots in the Mt Bulanjao Range; and ment policies that are geared towards sustainable development, • Opposition to mining permits being issued to MacroAsia especially respecting the identified policies for the environmen-Mining Corporation and Celestial Nickel Mining Exploration tal critically areas network (ECAN). Further, national policiesCorporation (currently being operated by Ipilan Nickel Corpora- should respect the rights of indigenous peoples and communitiestion) despite the absence of genuine consultation processes, and in rejecting mining applications based on the identified seriousa flawed free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process. adverse impacts it has brought in the past and will bring in the future if it is allowed to develop further extraction of minerals Furthermore, these mining companies have been allowed to in Palawan.enter forested “Core” and “Restricted” zones despite all rules Executive Order (EO) No. 23 issued on February 1, 2011 byand regulations enshrined into the Strategic Environmental Plan President Benigno S. Aquino III declaring a moratorium on the(SEP), also known as Republic Act 7611. cutting and harvesting of timber should not be limited to pro- Dr. Gerry Ortega, an environmental advocate and broadcast tecting natural and residual forests. In the case of Palawan, thejournalist who was very vocal against mining in Palawan was whole of Palawan, including its outlying island municipalities,killed on January 24, 2011 after his morning radio show in Puerto should be spared from logging and mining. Existing concession-Princesa City. In the past months before his death, he has been ers must no longer be given permits to expand operations andreceiving death threats because of his opposition to mining and their activities should be strictly monitored. The exploitationexposition of bribery in the government relative to mining through of its mineral and oil fields, its marine wealth and virgin forestshis radio program “Ramatak” over DWAR. should stop now. Immediately after Ortega’s death, the 10-million signature The Philippines is clearly threatened by the effects of climatecampaign to stop mining in Palawan was launched by the Save change. Already there are increased extremes of weather andPalawan Movement (SPM) in partnership with ABS-CBN increased numbers of typhoon storms per season as compared to 20 IMPACT • July 2011
  • 7. Palawan: A Clash Between Mining And Biodiversityeven 20 years ago. Mining particularly strip mining and open pit operations are particularly vulnerable when affected by extremestorms. Exposed minerals and toxic residues can be more easily flooded into the environment. Admittedly, the Philippines is below par when it comes to international practice of water and toxic waste management at min-ing sites. The already disastrous legacy of mining in the Philippines will, it is feared, worsen. The international community shouldtake stronger action in order to regulate mining particularly, near sea level mining that might be easily inundated as sea level risesand all mining in monsoon/typhoon /hurricane affected zones. (The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace and theNational Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) has committed to help the Save Palawan Movement campaign. To help in thecampaign, please see your diocesan Social Action Center, or visit the website www.no2mininginpalawan to sign online ordownload the signature form. Signed forms may be sent to the Save Palawan Movement headquarters through any JRS Expressbranch for free.) I1 Based on the CSO Assessment of Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2004-2010 in mining, as of 2008, the government reported that only 13,462 jobs were created by the miningindustry or a mere 5.36% of its intended projection of 239,000 indirect and direct employment.2 Key Biodiversity Areas are “sites of global significance for biodiversity conservation, identified using globally standard criteria and thresholds, based on the needs of biodiversity requiring safeguard atthe site scale.“ They cover 70% of the world’s natural resources. (Ruth Grace Ambal, Conservation International-Philippines)3 2000 Data from HARIBON Foundation 2003 based on ESSC 1999 cited there are only 18.3% total forest cover in the Philippines and only 3% remaining old growth forest.4 Data from Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), as of March 2011.5 Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) is an agreement wherein the government shares in the production of the contractor, whether in kind or in value, as owner of the minerals and thecontractor gets the rest. (DENR-MGB Description)6 Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) is an agreement for the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of minerals. (DENR-MGB Description)7 Exploration Permit (EP) allows a qualified person to undertake exploration activities for mineral resources in certain areas open to mining. (DENR-MGB Description)8 The Costs and Benefits of Three Decades of Mining in Rio Tuba, Bataraza, Palawan by Antonio G.M. La Viña, Grizelda Mayo-Anda, Mary Jean A. Caleda, Redempto D. Anda, Katherine Mana-Galido,Loreto L. Cagatulla, published by ELAC and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), September 2006, pp.1-95] Ultramafic (also referred to as ultrabasic) rocks are igneous and meta-igneous rocks with very low silica content (less than 45%), generally >18% MgO, high FeO, low potassium, and are composed ofusually greater than 90% mafic minerals (dark colored, high magnesium and iron content). The Earths mantle is composed of ultramafic rocks. “The Mt. Gantong/Brooke’s Point 2010 Geo-Tagged Report”, Mining Threats to Watersheds, Core Zones and to the Ancestral Domain of Isolated Indigenous Communities, Palawan Island (ThePhilippines) The Cost and Benefits of Three Decades of Mining in Rio Tuba, Bataraza, Palawan, pp. 27-66, Sharing Natural Wealth for Development – Case Studies from Palawan Province, Philippines, ELAC andAteneo De Manila University, September 2006.18 Photo Courtesy of One Palawan Movement Volume 45 • Number 7 21