Mining and Water Use in South Cotabato and Davao del Sur


Summary of the presentation of the research results delivered last 19 June 2013 in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
Leah Vidal, Ph. D. (Ateneo Institute of Anthropology)
Maricel Hilario-Patiño (Ateneo Institute of Anthropology)
Lourdes Simpol, Ph. D. (Tropical Institute for Climate Studies)


A. The Mining Project and Locale

One of the difficulties encountered during the beginning of this research was the absence of maps. So, maps were created to visually illustrate the complexity and gravity of the impact of mining, not only on the physical but on the political and cultural landscape as well.

The locale of the Tampakan Copper– Gold Mining Project can be divided into three major areas depending on its project components. These are the Final Mining Area, the Resettlement Area, as well as the Off-lease Infrastructure Area. The final mining area, or FMA includes the areas covered by the open pit, waste rock storage facility, waste rock conveyor, tailings storage facility, ore conveyor, concentrator, freshwater dam, and other related structures. The resettlement areas are the places where the people who will be displaced as a result of the project will be relocated. The Off-lease infrastructures or OLI include the slurry pipeline to transport the concentrate produced at the mine site to the filter plant which will dewater the concentrate, a coal fire power station, transmission lines from the coal fire power station to the mining areas, and a port facility (…).

The Final Mining Area (FMA) covers approximately 9,605 hectares of land located between the quadrant boundaries of Kiblawan municipality of Davao del Sur Columbio municipality in Sultan Kudarat, Malungon municipality of Sarangani, and Tampakan in South Cotabato. The B’laan’s ownership over the ancestral domains affected by the mining project is formally recognized by the Philippine Government. The areas identified, delineated, and substantiated with proofs by various indigenous groups to be part of their ancestral territories have been awarded by the Philippine Government with Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT). The mining project straddles the quadrant boundaries of 4 municipalities belonging to 4 different provinces, as well as 4 CADT areas. It creates a very complex political dynamics which require complicated negotiations with and among four municipal LGUs, and for 4 heterogenous collection of B’laan clans to negotiate with the mining company, with each other, and several layers of LGUs and government agencies.

In terms of the biophysical environment, the project will directly impact on waterways and watersheds, and will have cumulative effects on biophysical elements of whole ecosystems, from ridge to reef.

The FMA is located within the headwaters of six catchments. Mal in the east and northeast, Manteo in the south, Altayan and Taplan in the west, Dalul in the north, and Mainit in the west, with a significant portion of these lying within the Mal, Altayan, and Taplan catchments. The project will directly affect two river systems — The Mal River in the eastern portion, and the Taplan River and its associated tributaries in the western portion (EIS, 2011, ES-9). The Mal River, which is fed by the Bong Mal and Tukay Mal Rivers and joins the Padada River and finally empties into the Davao Gulf some 50 kilometers from the project site, will be affected by the Tailings Storage Facility and the Fresh Water Dam (EIS, 2011, ES-9). Meanwhile, Taplan River will be affected because the Project’s open pit lies within the sub-catchments of Altayan and Taplan Rivers. Both rivers drain to Lake Buluan in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and some 43 kilometers downstream from the project site (EIS, 2011, ES-9). Based on the maps, the open pit will clear the broadleaf closed canopy forest vegetation cover. This will result in the fragmentation of the forested areas. About 1,000 existing households (approximately 5,000) people from the directly affected areas, particularly Tampakan and Kiblawan are going to be displaced by the project. They will be resettled after their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) has been obtained before the mining construction begins ( EN/Resettlement/Pages/homedefault.aspx). In Tampakan, 456 households will be relocated from the three affected barangays. Sixty-two of these households are B’laan and 16 are non-IPs. In Kiblawan, on the other hand, 414 households will be relocated, 397 of which are B’laan and 17 are non-Ips (EIS, 2011, 6-5 and 6-6). The potential resettlement sites shown in the map below will affect 9 barangays: Datal Biao in Colombio, Sultan Kudarat, Kimlawis, Bololsalo and Tacub in Kiblawan Davao del Sur, Blaan and Malabod in Malungon, Saranggani, and Danlag, Pulabato and Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Initially, SMI planned that it shall transport the ore via an underground concentrate pipeline from the Ore Crushing Conveyor Loading Station in Tablu to a purpose-built port complex in Malalag, Davao del Sur. While not abandoning Malalag as an option, SMI explored the possibility of the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone Development Corporation (KAIDEC) in Maasim, Sarangani as an alternative for their off-lease infrastructure (OLI) facilities (XST 380 Offlease Infrastructure Factsheet_WED.pdf). This component, however, was left out from the current EIA submitted with permission from the EMB. This will have an even wider impact on the ecosystem particularly of the Sarangani Province and the Sarangani Bay.

C. The EIA Review

1. The Conduct of the EIA for the Final Mine Area of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining Project

• Activities Done

Public Scoping: After the project briefing, SMI conducted separate public scoping activities in Tampakan, Malungon, Kiblawan, and Columbio from November 17 to 20, 2009 respectively. Each public scoping activity lasted for one day.

The documentation of the public scoping activities that SMI submitted as one the appendices of the EIS included only the list of issues that were identified in the Public Scoping activities in Tampakan, Malungon, Kiblawan, and Columbio. The issues the participants were most interested in included the EIA study and the preparation of the EIS, Project Description and identification of impact areas, water quantity and quality and how this will impact agricultural activities, displacement and relocation, and access and distribution to project benefits.

However, as the documentation was only a listing of issues which are summary in nature, there was no context on who raised what issue and how . The documentation also does not reveal how the proponents responded to the questions and issues by the participants during the public scoping.

EIA Results: AECOM finished the first draft of the Environmental Impact Statement and submitted it for internal review of Hansen Bailey on July 2010. After undergoing three revisions following the comments of Hansen Bailey and SMI, the EIS was submitted to the EMB for procedural review on December 17, 2010.

Presentation and public disclosure: Reportedly, AECOM conducted 48 disclosure meetings and five public consultations, which included 118 stakeholders groups from June 9 through August 31, 2011. It is a data gap why a public consultation was conducted in lieu of a public hearing. The Public Consultations on the EIS were conducted in Tampakan in South Cotabato, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Malungon in Sarangani, and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat on September 6, 8, 13 and 15 respectively.

• Recovering Voices
Some important issues that emerged during the consultation remained unanswered

The EIA had an incomplete picture: They should have used the watershed framework and followed the watershed continuum. Why was the EIA for the mining area separated from the Off-lease infrastructure, as if they are separate projects?

The consultations were not conducive to participation: The venue was the gym and the crowd was very big. There was too much technical information. People were intimidated by the language used. People had stage fright because they had to use the mike. There was lack of time to raise all our issues.

It lacked analysis of IP issues: Isn’t their belief land is life? Why are they giving away their land? The NCIP has not been helpful in clarifying their position. No analysis on customary laws on leadership and governance and how this changed after the mining company came. Some of the leaders SMI is dealing with are not traditional leaders but are clan members who are tapping the bloodline to accrue benefits from the project. Lacks discussion on violence and marginalization process against customary leaders like the Capions.

No study on human rights: No actual survey of occupants. No assessment of land rights situation in the area, Freedom of movement around the area has been restricted.

Not effective as a planning tool: Voluminous, English, Highly technical. It is not for LGU consumption, It’s not accessible to the layman, The data could only be understood by researchers, We do not have the technical capability and are only banking that SMI-Xstrata is a big company.

2. EIA Review: WATER

• Water Quality

The following are the conclusions after thorough analysis of the water quality report:
1. The EIA did not use standard practices for water sampling. Conditions during sampling were not specified (time and weather conditions) and chain or custody is not specified. Who can attest to validity of samples? Who were the responsible parties or people who undertook the monitoring?

2. The water quality data on field are not acceptable because of serious deficiencies in methodologies, absence of documentation, reliability and credibility. Calibration and standardization documentation is not presented and no clear indication on how these were done. Although the laboratory which conducted the analysis is thorough in the reporting, the problem of sampling is still questionable.

3. Due to the above mentioned deficiencies, the water quality data cannot be used for future monitoring or modeling.

There are data gaps that are identified which are crucial for the study:

1. No correlation of water quality on health and livelihood or consumption. For example Mal and Taplan rivers are utilized in fishing and irrigation. What can be said about the state of the water and its effect to livelihood or consumption at the moment and what will be the different scenarios in the future. There are areas with high coliform count yet being used by the community for drinking, there was no study correlating the health of the people and water quality.

2. No identified sampling sites for future monitoring. Among all the sites sampled from each watersheds where would the critical monitoring sites be located.

3. No identified indicator parameters for monitoring (general for the identified sampling sites and specific to particular sites if necessary).

4. Over-all how many samplings were done? Data on annex in some areas are ranges, but most are single entries. Are these averages? If averages what is the standard deviation value.

• Water Quantity

In contrast to the Water Quality data sets used for analysis, the water quality data sets attached in the annexes are very, very minimal. The former has more than 3000 pages of data sets in the annexes while the latter has less than 10 pages.

An outline of data source was enumerated in the report for methodology of data collection for the surface water models. However, proofs of these data enumerated cannot be found in the Annexes.

No analysis of simulation of data (in form of graphs or scenario) was presented in the report. What were reported in all the modeling reports are results derived from analysis and simulation.

The above concern on lack of data reported brings to deeper concern at the moment, the added risks due to climate change. No thorough historical presentation of weather and climate related extremes were done in the watersheds within the project site.

An important data gap that was not reported is water allocation for all the stakeholders in the affected watershed.