Summary of Findings of the Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) on the Impacts of the PHILEX Mining Corporation (PMC) Mine Tailings Pond 3 Failure

Summary The PMC TP3 breach that occurred in August of 2012 caused environmental destruction that continuously threatens the lives and livelihood of the immediate communities surrounding the mining operations as well as the communities that are dependent on the watershed ecosystems affected by the pollutants coming from mining. The following are the summary of the findings of the EIM conducted last October 26-28, 20012 with the objective of determining the immediate impacts of the mine tailings spills to the environment and the communities: Mine Tailings Destruction The immediate manifestations of the environmental damage caused by TP3 breach were the smothering of marine life thriving in Balog River and the junction of Balog and Agno River brought about by mine tailings spill. It rendered the Balog River and the confluence of Balog and Agno River practically biologically dead. Heavy Metal Contamination The mine tailings was also proven to contain heavy metals that includes copper, zinc arsenic and cobalt that were found in impacts sites, the Balog River and the junction of Balog and Agno River. Copper is the most prevalent heavy metal that registered high concentration in the junction of Balog and Agno River, the highest value is 4.5 times the threshold limit. Prevalence of Various Illnesses in the Community and other Environmental Impacts In San Felipe West, the community experienced headache, chest pains and skin rashes. Some gold panners in San Nicolas, Pangsinan who drank water from the wells dug up beside Agno river lasthad loose bowel movement and itchy sore throats during the TP3 incident. The communities from Sitio Pangbasan, an impact area of the mine tailings spill, observed the rise in river level comparable to flood levels during Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in the morning...

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...

Healing a Broken World

Healing a Broken World A Special Report by the Task Force on Ecology Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Society of Jesus Editor: Fr. Patxi Alvarez, SJ Download (PDF, Unknown) Share...

An Xstrata mine threatens human rights in the Philippines

Lucerne/Berne/Aachen, 12 June 2013 – The Zug-based group Glencore-Xstrata is showing insufficient respect for the rights of the affected population with its plans to exploit one of the world’s biggest open-pit mines in the Philippines. Because the project threatens the livelihood of tens of thousands of people, tensions are rising and the first deaths have occurred. That is shown by a study commissioned by the Fastenopfer, MISEREOR and Bread for All. The Swiss government is now challenged to act. Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), a subsidiary of the Zug-based giant Xstrata group, that has merged with Glencore, plans to exploit the biggest copper and gold mine in Asia in Tampakan, Philippines. “About 5,000 indigenous people would be relocated and their traditional land destroyed. The mine would also threaten the water supply of tens of thousands of people,” says Father Joy Pelino, the director of the Social Action Center of Marbel diocese, who opposes the project. The area is politically unstable and violence is increasing: already, eight people have been killed in the context of the project. The powder keg is about to explode. A study conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) shows that SMI has contravened its obligation of due diligence. The UN’s Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights state that companies are responsible for respecting human rights worldwide. Precisely in such an area of conflict they must conduct prior, detailed investigations of the effect of their activities on human rights. For Daniel Hostettler, human rights expert of Fastenopfer, one thing is clear: “A mix of government failure, a poor and marginalised population, and armed conflicts...

The Tampakan Quandary

By Atty. Dante Gatmaytan ON FEB. 19, 2013, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that it issued an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mining, Inc. (SMI) in Southern Mindanao. The DENR followed a directive from the Office of the President (OP) dated Feb. 4 (OP Case No. 12-F-159) where Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. rebuked the DENR for failing to issue the ECC. He wrote that SMI had complied with the requirements of the Environmental Impact Statement and should be issued an ECC. Ochoa opined that the DENR did not have to consider the ordinance banning open pit mining in South Cotabato as an obstacle to the issuance of the ECC. These developments may create the impression that mining in Southern Mindanao is imminent. It is not. In the same announcement, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Ramon Paje said that the grant of ECC to SMI was “subject to certain conditions,” and failure to comply may result in the cancellation of the ECC. SMI also needs to satisfy the requirements of other laws such as the Mining Act of 1995 and the Local Government Code of 1991. For example, Paje explained that under the ECC, SMI is directed to follow the provisions on toxic and solid wastes of laws on clean air and water and mining. SMI must observe appropriate practices on vegetative restoration, engineering structure, land use, and soil and water management, and ensure proper stockpiling and disposal of generated waste materials and erosion control. Paje added that under the provisions of the Mining Act, SMI must set...

Update on the FPIC Process at Brooke’s Point, Palawan

Two FPIC processes have been attempted so far by the Lebach Mining Corporation (LMC) in Brooke’s Point, Palawan. The first community assembly for the FPIC process took place on August 6-11, 2012. The second community assembly meeting took place on March 18-22, 2013. Five (5) barangays – Ipilan, Aribungos, Barong-Bargon, Mambalot, Maasin – were surveyed by the first Community Consultative Meeting (CCA), with IPs in 3 of the barangays (Maasin, Ipilan, and Aribungos) submitting their opposition to the Palawan NCIP. While there is no exact figure of the anti- and the pro mining supporters, a conservative estimate averages around 300 anti-mining and pro-mining attendees in every barangay. Of this number, approximately 200-250 individuals are anti-mining and about 50-100 are pro-. With the help of Ancestral Land Domain Watch (ALDAW); Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI); and Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), Inc.; the IP leaders petitioned the Palawan NCIP to declare the FPIC as null and void after the required Pre-Condition Certificate, allegedly issued by NCIP ADO-4, was revealed to be falsified. Additionally, the FPIC process undertaken by the company had only addressed the issue of “utilization,” not of “exploration.” The petition asks for the following: Declare the second Community Consultative Meeting null and void; Resolve the petition filed at the first CCA; Make the Lebach Mining Corporation to be accountable for illegal exploration using false FPIC certificate. The follow-up CCA for the second FPIC process was held on March 18-22, 2013. It was likewise declared a “failure” due to the unresolved issues from the first CCA meeting. Here, barangay captains were faced with last-minute changes for the CCA meetings;...

Press Release from Alyansa Tigil Mina: Green groups slam Atienza’s anti-Buhay track record

Sibuyan Island, ROMBLON – An environment group in Romblon scored Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) party-list representative-elect Lito Atienza’s anti-life background on environmental protection. Backed by a strong Catholic charismatic renewal group El Shaddai, BUHAY party-list got three seats for the next congress as it gained victory garnering 1,265,992 votes equivalent to 4.74 percent of the total votes cast. According to the website of Buhay, the party-list’s core principles are based on the Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag: for God, people, environment and country. In being maka-kalikasan or pro-environment, Buhay believes that the Creator gave us abundant and overflowing natural resources which must be developed and used justly for the benefit of all Filipinos and the next generation – not only for the chosen few. Buhay further sees that the Philippines was formed by God to be emulated by the world through the promotion of good and effective governance. But Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE) director Rodne Galicha said in a statement that the background of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Lito Atienza as future lawmaker goes against the very principles of Buhay. “One working day, on December 23, 2009, before Atienza resigned as DENR secretary to run in Manila as mayor, he signed five mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) permits and three exploration permits. What was questionable? All these are midnight deals. How come? December 24thwas non-working holiday, 25th a regular holiday, 26th is a Saturday and 27th is Sunday. He resigned December 28th, Monday.” Atienza stayed as head of DENR from 2007 until 2009 under the baton of...