ABOUT THE NETWORK
The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is a coalition of organizations and groups who have decided to collectively challenge the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. Composed of Non-Government Organizations, People’s Organizations, Church groups and academic institutions, the ATM is both an advocacy group and a people’s movement, working in solidarity to protect Filipino communities and natural resources that are threatened by large-scale mining operations.
Why was the Alyansa Tigil Mina formed?
The Alyansa Tigil Mina was born out of the collective concern of Non-Government Organizations, People’s Organizations and other Civil Society Groups against the impending threat of the revitalization of the mining industry in the Philippines. In mid-2004, NGOs/ POs, decided to disengage from a series of consultations convened by the DENR regarding the revitalization of the mining industry.
An assessment of the situation with the aid of Indigenous Peoples support organizations and anti-mining advocates, the decision was made that a watchdog-type organization was needed, much like the Bantay-Mina coalition of the late 1990s.
Specifically, the group was worried that the pro-mining machineries (the industry itself, media and the government and its agencies) were gaining ground in the promotion of mining as their claims, and roadshows and promotional materials were passing without challenge.
Alyansa Tigil Mina became the challenge to the official line of thinking about mining.
Why is it concerned with the revitalization of mining?
The Alyansa Tigil Mina is concerned that the government has shifted its policy on mining form that of “tolerance” to “aggressive promotion,” with the issuance of Executive Order 270-A, last January 2004. The EO provided for guiding principles for the revitalization of the mining industry. Despite the seemingly innocuous policy statements of EO 270-A, a closer reading would reveal that its ultimate purpose is not the promotion of sustainable development through responsible mining but the promotion of large-scale, environmentally destructive mining through the entry of foreign investments in the mineral industry.
The same EO also provided for the formulation of a National Minerals Action Plan (NMAP) for minerals development. The NMAP exposed the true intent of government in promoting the minerals industry at whatever cost as it elaborated and interpreted the policy statements in EO 270-A.
What are the calls of Alyansa Tigil Mina?
The alliance is calling for the:
Scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the Passage of an Alternative People’s Mining Act.
Revocation EO 270-A and the rejection of the National Minerals Action Plan.
A nationwide moratorium on large-scale mining operations.
Is the Alyansa Tigil Mina totally against mining?
NO. The ATM is against the policy regime of this administration in promoting foreign-controlled and export-oriented large-scale mining.
WE ARE AGAINST MINING AS IT IS BEING PRACTICED TODAY.
We are against the liberal interpretation and implementation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 270-A that shifts the policy from tolerance to the relentless promotion of large-scale mining. In the same way, we are against the National Minerals Action Plan (NMAP) whose listed priority mining sites will encroach on almost 53% of ancestral domains of Indigenous Tribes and about 60% of protected areas.
Our opposition is also based on the intent to allow foreign control and ownership of mineral resources. This approach will not drive local development or fuel national industrialization as most of the extracted minerals will be exported as raw products. In the end the Philippines will continue to depend on imported mineral products.
More importantly, our opposition also stems from the systematic weakening of safety nets that assure participation and self-determination of local development. The Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process was emasculated. To many special incentives were granted to large-scale mining companies to the detriment of LGUs and local communities. In addition, the potential impact of large-scale mining operations pose threats to sustainable agriculture, community-based upland development and coastal and fisheries resources.
Finally, we are critical of the way that the government is promoting the mining industry as a poverty-reduction stratgey, and as the base for economic development. This is simply not an honest practice. The projections of values and volumes of mineral resources have not been validated or have been distorted. The government has backtracked on its own projections any number of times. The claimed economic benefits of mining are too short-term and threaten too much – sustainable livelihoods and local development – as well as creating issues of social displacement, cultural conflicts and environmental degradation.
What is Sustainable or Responsible Mining?
The short answer is that both concepts are myths.
The long answer is that “Responsible Mining” is the current term applied to the framework of the government for the revitalization of the mining industry. This was a modification of the “Sustainable Mining” approach being espoused by the Mines, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) paradigm at the international level.
However, global environmental groups successfully debunked the concept of “Sustainable Mining” forcing the industry to replace it with the term: “Responsible Mining.”
The framework of Responsible Mining is very impressive. However, what is not easily apparent is that there has yet to be any large-scale mining operation that has completed the whole cycle of the model yet. What the model provides are examples of best practices from DIFFERENT and VARIOUS operations happening in DIFFERENT countries. The model has not been successfully closed or “looped-in” in one single mining operation in a specific area.
In our own analysis, the concept of responsible mining is a weak model, because:
It relies on the voluntary compliance of large-scale mining companies.
It highly depends on the ability of the government to enforce/ implement safeguards articulated in national laws.
It does not address the issue of corporate and state graft and corruption, a scenario that is not uncommon in extractive industries or third world countries.
There is only token recognition of safeguards such as the participatory decision making process, the free prior and informed consent process, the Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Compliance Certificate and so on.
Are there alternatives to Large-Scale Mining?
YES, there are alternatives.
We should recognize that the nature of the Philippine economy is largely agricultural with a high potential for agro-industrialization. This, in fact, was the main strategy outlined in the 1987 Constitution – which promoted first the social justice and asset reform agenda – towards national industrialization. The threat of large-scale mining operations endanger existing sustainable livelihoods in an area.
Agro-forestry. In Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, more than 700 hectares of citrus orchards in Malabing Valley are threatened by the Didipio Gold and Copper Project. Farmers earn 1 million pesos per hectare from these citrus farms. It is highly doubtful that the mining operation will give the same benefits. This same model of agroforestry has been successfully replicated in Bukidnon.
Eco-tourism and Watershed Development. The Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP) has established that in the long-term (over 25 years) the benefits of ecotourism, fisheries, water use and agriculture development will actually bring more benefits to the three Samar provinces than the proposed open pit bauxite mine. This data has been used to pressure the DENR to create the Samar Island National Park. In the same vein, the collective resistance of Oriental Mindoro for the entry of Crew Minerals for the Mindoro Nickel Project, has actually resulted in improved agricultural production and higher productivity of Lake Naujan. Sibuyan Island, Romblon has been described as the biodiversity equivalent of the Galapagos Islands, and mere hours from Manila. Yet instead of becoming a focus for “green tourism” the interior of the island is set to be an open pit mine.
Fisheries/ Coastal Resource Development. In an archipelagic country like the Philippines, coastal resources provide much of the protein requirements of the people, and mining threatens the health of the seas. Rapu-rapu is an example of fisheries resources tossed to the wayside – a series of spills at the mine set off a poison scare that devastated the area’s fishing industry. The mine eventually went bankrupt and closed, while the fishing industry continued on.
Community-based Small Scale Mining. We cannot discount that in the Northern Philippines, especially in the Cordilleras, mining has been a traditional way of livelihood for some cultural groups. And their practice of mining returns actual and concrete benefits to the households and the communities. This model could be developed with stricter environmental safeguards and replicated in other prospective mining sites. At the very least, the benefits of the industry would go to the local community and not exit the country.