Cimatu must enforce mine closures and open-pit mining ban

September 17, 2018

 

Cimatu must enforce mine closures and open-pit mining ban

Peoples Mine Audit report prove that responsible mining is a myth

 

Quezon City – Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) strongly believes that DENR Sec. Cimatu has the obligation to enforce the closure and suspension orders against 26 mining operations that violated Philippine environmental laws.  Many of these mining companies even failed to comply with their own contractual obligations or conditionalities attached to their mining permits.

 

In Feb. 2017, former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez issued these mine closure and suspension orders.  The decision was based on the Mine Audit reports done in 2016 and prepared by a multi-disciplinary team from various DENR offices, with participation from civil society organizations and affected communities.  However, upon the assumption of now DENR Sec. Cimatu, he ordered the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to review these closure orders.

 

This July 2018, the MICC has reportedly completed its technical review process and is recommending the lifting or reversal of 22 of the closure/suspension orders.  Allegedly, this report based is based on a desk review on “technical and legal” compliance done by researchers and experts. We don’t know if actual field visits and interviews with affected communities were done by this technical review process.

 

With the launching of the book “Peoples Mine Audit: Documented violations and non-compliance of large-scale mining projects in the Philippines”, ATM is providing the DENR with additional evidences and testimonies that responsible mining is not happening in the Philippines.

 

We strongly urge Sec. Cimatu to give the mine closures initiative equal commitment as he has shown in implementing the Boracay clean-up. He has no reason to procrastinate anymore, with the evidences presented in the publication.

 

The book gives a stronger voice to mining-affected communities, especially in light of the annual Mining Philippines Conference hosted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, to be held in Manila on Sept. 18-20, 2018.  With their theme of “Strategic Synergies: Communicating the Gains of Responsible Mining”, the fake news that is “responsible mining” must be exposed.

 

In Nueva Vizcaya, Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) conducted exploration activities outside of its approved exploration permit area.  Since the commercial mining operations in 2013, the water supply in the town of Kasibu has been reduced drastically, practically making at least seven (7) deep wells dried and useless. Recently, a petition led by Vice-Mayor and majority of barangays not to extend and renew the mining contract has been submitted to the provincial government and

the DENR central office.

 

 

 

 

In Sta. Cruz, Zambales, the mining contracts of four mining companies (BNMI, EMI. LAMI, and ZDMC/DMCI) have been cancelled, and their ECCs revoked.  However, illegal mining activities have been documented as late as May 2018.  Compensation to displaced farmers and fishers have not even started.  The promised rehabilitation of rivers, coastal areas and irrigation systems has not been fulfilled.

 

Sta. Cruz has lost more than 800 hectares of productive rice lands and at least 1,000 fishers and fishpond owners displaced by environmental degradation.

 

Worse, communities were shocked to learn that a ferro-nickel processing plant has been approved to be constructed in the adjacent town Candelaria, Zambales. This project is backed by Chinese investors and was reportedly approved by Gov. Amor Deloso and endorsed by Pres. Duterte in

2017.  Which begs the question, “why was this ferro-nickel plant approved when the four mining

contracts were already cancelled?”.

 

The continued operations of the four nickel mining projects in Sta. Cruz, Zambales poses direct threats to the watershed, irrigation, farmlands, coastal area and fishing grounds of residents. In addition, these mining projects increase the risks and vulnerabilities of residents to flashfloods, erosions and landslides.

 

In Palawan, the operations of Citinickel Mining and Development Corp. (CMDC) are operating illegally inside a restricted core zone of a protected area in the town of Narra, Palawan.  The mining operation does not have SEP clearance from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development or PCSD. In Sept. 2015, the DENR-MGB actually issued a Cease-and-Desist Order against CMDC operations.

 

In Aroroy, Masbate, inspections by DA-BFAR and DENR-MGB in 2015 revealed that marine life was contaminated  by  cyanide  and  mercury.     Filminera  Resources  Corporation  (FRC)  is  allegedly operating  since  2009,  without  an  Environmental  Compliance  Certificate  (ECC)  and  toxic  mine tailings were reportedly dumped in the waters of the surrounding barangays. FRC also reportedly constructed  a  spillway  along  the  National  Road  at  Baranggay  Panique  and  tailings  ponds  which have become dams that impede or obstruct the natural flow of bodies of water

 

ATM is disgustedly alarmed that two expiring mining contracts were given extension in a midnight deal in June 2016.  A few days before the assumption of Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary, the Mineral Processing Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Marcventures Mineral Development Corp. (MMDC) and the Exploration Permit of the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).  Both are operating in Mindanao.

 

MMDC is operating in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, inside a watershed protected landscape.  The company is linked with the political clan of the Pimentels in CARAGA.  MMDC’s mining contract was cancelled by DENR in 2017.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, SMI was given an extended Exploration Permit, despite the ban on open-pit mining in the Provincial Environment Code of South Cotabato and the absence of a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the Bla’an indigenous communities.  The mining tenement of SMI is also encroaching on a primary forest and land-conflicts with agrarian reform beneficiaries have not been resolved.

 

With the passage of Typhoon Ompong (international name “Magkhut”), we again witness the vulnerability of the Philippines to extreme weather events that are linked to climate change.  The more deforestation and permanent land use we implement by promoting or expanding large-scale mining operations, the more threats and risks are posed to the Philippines.

 

We challenge DENR Sec. Cimatu to address these evidences and immediately enforce the closure and suspension orders issued against these mining companies and their destructive operations.

 

Specifically, we demand that DENR immediately:

 

1.   Disclose the official findings and recommendations of the MICC regarding the technical review of these mine closure and suspension orders;

 

2.   Implement the closure and suspension orders by deploying composite teams to the mine areas that will actually force the immediate cessation of extraction activities;

 

 

 

To President Rodrigo Duterte, we re-iterate the following demands:

 

1.   Given the failure of the MICC to take into account the social, health and peace costs of mining operations, we urge the President to uphold the mine closures and suspension orders. A revamp of the MICC is in order for while it has done everything in favor of mining operations, it has done little or nothing in alleviating and addressing the suffering of mining-affected communities.

 

2.   Executive Order 79 (EO 79 or the Responsible Mining policy) must be fully implemented, and we strongly encourage Pres. Duterte to enforce the “no go zones”, the performance audit of mine operations and the moratorium on mining applications.

 

3.   DAO 2017-10 (Ban on open-pit mining) must be fully implemented, and an Executive Order strengthening its implementation should be issued by President Duterte as soon as possible.

 

4.   DAO 2017-07 (Mandatory participation in EITI) must be fully implemented, and Pres. Duterte should instruct DENR Sec. Cimatu to ensure the compliance of all mining companies to this administrative order;

 

 

5.   Given the current serious risks and threats posed by climate change (e.g., flashfloods, landslides, erosions, extreme weather events, etc.), we appeal to the  Office of the President to consider establishing a moratorium on mining operations, especially in areas characterized as highly susceptible to climate change risks or are highly-vulnerable geo-hazard zones.

 

6.   With the reduced rice production capacity of the Philippines, and reduced fish-catch brought by coastal contamination and climate change, a direct threat to food security is now

present.  We ask Pres. Duterte to instruct Dept. of Agriculture Sec. Manny Pinol to issue the maps of Special Agricultural and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZs) that are considered as no-go zones for mining and other destructive practices.

 

7.   Pres. Duterte should issue an order declaring all functioning watershed areas in the Philippines, as well as small-island ecosystems, to be no-go zones for mining and other destructive practices.  #

 

For more details, please contact: Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator: (0917) 549.82.18 / nc@alyansatigilmina.net

 

Additional Notes with links:

 

1.    The closure and suspension orders were issued by former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez last February 2017.

Ms. Gina Lopez.

a.    https://www.rappler.com/nation/160270-denr-closes-mining-operations

b.    http://denr.gov.ph/images/stories/MINING_AUDIT_RESULTS-after_the_mining_audit2.pdf

 

2.    DENR Administrative Order 2017-10 (Ban on Open-pit Mining) is still in effect, and President Duterte has publicly declared that he supports and will continue to implement this policy.

a.    Inquirer (Nov. 21, 2017) http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/946686/duterte-rejects-call-to-lift-ban-on- open-pit-mining

b.    ABS-CBN (Sept. 5, 2017) http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/05/17/duterte-agrees-with-gina-open- pit-mining-has-to-stop

c.    Rappler (Apr. 9, 2018) https://www.rappler.com/nation/199876-duterte-open-pit-mining-ban-2019 d.    Tempo (June 5, 2018) http://tempo.com.ph/2018/06/05/open-pit-mining-shutdown-by-year-end-

mulled/

e.    Manila Bulletin (June 3, 2018) https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/06/03/duterte-plans-to-shut-down- open-pit-mining-by-years-end/

f.     Philippine News Agency (July 26 2018) http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1042797

g.    https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1014880/duterte-to-issue-eo-soon-banning-open-pit-mining

 

 

3.  DENR Administrative Order 2017-07 (Mandatory participation of mining companies in EITI)

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