On-Line Petition calling for the Cancellation of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of the SMI-Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine Project

Please support the online campaign calling for the cancellation of the Tampakan FTAA. Petisyon ni Fr. Oliver Castor, CSsR Quezon City, Philippines Despite the existing ban on open pit mining issued by the local government unit of South Cotabato, the residents and indigenous peoples community are still under grave threat from the world’s fouth largest copper producer Xtrata Copper and its Philippine contractor SMI Philippines. This is because of the existence of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement signed by the Office of the President that allows SMI to large-scale exploration, development and utilization of an estimated average of 360,000 ounces of gold and 375,000 tons of copper per annum within a mine area covering approximately 10,000 ha (SMI 2013: 11). The open pit would reach an extent of 500 ha and a depth of 785 m while the topsoil stockpile would cover an area of 5 ha and the pit ore stockpile 49 ha (AECOM 2011: 2-9). If realized, the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in the Philippines and one of the largest of its kind worldwide. It straddles the jurisdiction of two regions, four provinces, four municipalities and nine barangays. The area is predominantly characterized by rainforest. About 5,000 people – approximately 1,000 households – inhabit the affected area and will require resettlement of inhabitants majority belonging to indigenous communities An independent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) on Tampakan conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) exposed various moments of government deficiencies referring to the human rights of people possibly affected by the Tampakan Project. The HRIA observed a context which...

Message of Pope Francis on the occasion of World Environment Day

  Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! Today I want to focus on the issue of the environment, which I have already spoken of on several occasions. Today we also mark World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which sends a strong reminder of the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food. When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it (cf. 2:15). And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb “to cultivate” reminds me of the care that the farmer has for his land so that it bear fruit, and it is shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone. Benedict XVI recalled several times that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not “care” for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for. We are losing the...

CBCP–NASSA Position Paper: PHILEX MINE WASTE SPILL

POSITION PAPER FOR THE SENATE HEARING OF COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, ON THE ISSUE OF PHILEX MINE WASTE SPILL 19 March 2013 Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP–NASSA)   Mining or extractive industry can be destructive to the environment – “Our experiences of environmental tragedies and incidents with the mining transnational corporations belie all assurances of sustainable and responsible mining that the government is claiming. Increasing number of mining affected communities, Christians and non-Christians alike, are subjected to human rights violations and economic deprivations. We see no relief in sight” (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006). The Church challenges the government policy on mining and categorically declares that: “the Mining Act destroys life. The right to life of people is inseparable from their right to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people’s right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas” (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006). We pursue our advocacy for a sustainable ecology because it is part of our Christian responsibility. With the late Pope John Paul II, we believe that “Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith” (The Ecological Crisis No. 15, Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace). The Second Plenary Council of the...

Artisanal and Small-scale Mining vs. Large-scale Mining: Can they work together?

According to the large scale mining (LSM) companies, the artisanal and small scale miners (ASM) should be held accountable for the destruction of the environment since most of the time, their operations are not regulated, unsafe, irresponsible and illegal. On the other hand, the small scale miners would also contend that large scale mining’s effects to the environment and communities are larger since they plunder hectares of land, dig a hole, produce massive waste and leave them open after a while. The cat-dog fight seems to never end. It may be recalled that on April 14, 2012, the Municipal Peace and Order Council of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur had to issue a resolution urging the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board to immediately resolve the tension between TVI Resources Development Incorporated and Mossma (Monte de Oros Small-scale Mining Association). Mindanews reported that “since April 5, trucks bearing diesel fuel and mining-related chemicals and tools, have been barred entry at the IA (inter-agency) checkpoint, with TVI claiming it has rights over the gold-rich area as holder of a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) over 4,779 hectares, under the Mining Act of 1995. Mossma, on the other hand, claims it has prior rights under the People’s Mining Act of 1991 over a portion of TVI’s MPSA, which it has been mining allegedly since the mid-1980s and which it had repeatedly petitioned to be segregated from TVI’s MPSA and declared as Minahang Bayan or People’s Small-Scale Mining Area.” (Mindanews.com, April 15, 2012) Oftentimes, incidents like the above-mentioned if not halted can result to bloody conflicts damaging the properties and lives of people. According to...

Canadian mining engineer to keynote Ateneo conference

Ateneo de Davao’s hosting of the Conference on Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Conference in Mindanao, on November 15-16, 2012 at the Ateneo Finster Auditorium will highlight the keynote address of Mr. Adrian Daniel, a mining engineer from British Columbia, Canada. In the presence of Mindanao’s small scale miners, non-governmental organizations, grassroots leaders, academics, researchers, students and other stakeholders, he will speak about the issues, opportunities and future options of artisanal and small scale mining. Mr. Daniel was a consultant on metallurgical and international development projects. Notably the creation of a 1,000,000 USD full metallurgical research and development laboratory with the purpose of modernizing Guyana’s mining practices through the use of physical and cyanide gold extraction methods in 2010. The project connected CIDA, AcmeLabs and Guyana’s mining commission with the goal to present safe, sustainable and modern alternatives to the use of mercury in artisanal gold mining as a component to Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. “My responsibilities included the management and coordination of local and international staff, standard operating procedures, creations of safe work practices, ordering of equipment, media relations, training and testing the local engineers,” according to Daniel. “We are also here (in Guyana) to show them technologies such as gravity concentration and flotation which can be used, initially, to process materials and so reduce the mass that goes on to the next step such as cyanide,” he said in an interview posted on Guyana Chronicle Online (October 30, 2010). Daniel continued that, “with pre-concentration, you can, conceptually, get down to five per cent of your starting material that would see cyanide leaching. So 95 per cent...

AdDU holds conference on small-scale mining

Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), committed to its vision and mission for a continuing effort to promote environmental stewardship and protection, is yet again to engage in a discussion on mining in Mindanao – this time on artisanal and small-scale mining. It must be remembered that AdDU hosted a more generic conference on mining in Mindanao early January of this year. The conference slated on November 15-16, 2012, at the Finster Auditorium of the University hopes to bring together a wide array of stakeholders from small-scale mining groups, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, academics, researchers, students and grassroots leaders with the theme, “Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in Mindanao: Issues, Opportunities and Future Options.” “It is our desire that this conference will serve as a platform for the stakeholders to identify how artisanal and small-scale mining in Mindanao can be managed as a legal, responsible, safe and efficient livelihood opportunity, with inputs from international experiences. At the same time, we want this to be an avenue to analyze and articulate the economic needs of artisanal and small-scale miners, map market opportunities, and develop practical recommendations for alternative livelihoods, including small and medium enterprises and supply chain development,” said Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, President of AdDU. The conference’s website, www.ecoteneo.org, also indicates that the gathering will further attempt to engage stakeholders across all sectors and create an association for consultation and dissemination of information; contribute to the immediate and long-term resolutions of existing and potential conflicts; and address the specific issues faced by women and children in the context of artisanal mining. To this end, the steering committee led by Mr....