February 20, 2013
Alyansa Tigil Mina strongly condemns, argues environment permit issuance to SMI-Xstrata Mines
Manila—Alyansa Tigil Mina strongly condemns and questions the issuance of a conditional environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to Sagittarius Mines Inc-Xstrata Philippines (SMI-Xstrata) for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project.
ATM has informed the Office of the President and the Mining Industry Coordinating Council of the many questions found in the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted to the Environment Management Bureau for the operations of the Tampakan project. We are not convinced that the submission merits the issuance of the said permit, and that many concerns are yet to be resolved before operations are to be allowed to push through.
South Cotabato Environment Code. Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code puts responsibility to local governments to implement policies necessary for the communities. In 2010, the Provincial Ordinance was signed with a provision banning open pit mining in their province due to identified risks. From this perspective, ATM believes that only a Supreme Court ruling can pronounce it unconstitutional or no “implementable”.
Free Prior Informed Consent. There are five tribal communities whom SMI-Xstrate should secure consent or FPIC from—they only have acquired one. Up to now, SMI-Xstrata has not yet fully complied with these and is yet to secure four other FPICs.
Lack of social acceptability and a string of human rights violations. Other than the FPIC from tribal communities, SMI must inform other communities inside and outside the mine tenement area who may be affected by the project—this includes downstream communities of Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, Saranggani, and Sultan Kudarat, whose water sources will be affected, and whose lives will be at risk in case an accident happens throughout the mine life.
As an aftermath also of the opposition against the Tampakan mining project and militarization of the area, people have been murdered, including five B’laan tribe leaders and members. This new development will escalate human rights violations and bloodsheds. We have earlier confirmed that the B’laan people already declared a pangayao or bloodwar against the military deployed in their ancestral domains.
Threat to the stability of the mountains and its watersheds and increases risks to disasters. From the tragedies of Marcopper in Marinduque to the Padcal Mines leakeage in Benguet last year, to the recent Antique Mines landslide, it would be unintelligent to risk the lives and resources that will be affected if the Tampakan facilities break. It is worth noting that one of the mine facilities will be situated on top of several active faults, and that the open pit will cut down at least 200 hectares of old growth forests and watersheds.
In the SMI-Xstrata Environmental and Social Impact Statement, one of their scientists also noted that: “The Tampakan mine has a potential of loss of life and high environmental damage if a failure of dams or rock storage facilities occurs.”
Unfortunately, these rather very important concerns were put aside in the Aquino government’s desire to accommodate the wishes of foreign investors to the country. This move compels us to believe that this government can turn a blind side on environmental and social issues in favor of promised benefits of development projects.
We reiterate that the ECC issuance puts many communities and resources at high risk, and that this is outright a violation of South Cotabato’s Environment Code and the newly issued Executive Order No. 79. This permit is not only questioned by Alyansa Tigil Mina but by the mining-affected communities who have and will not allow mining in their ancestral lands. (30)
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 09277617602
Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, email@example.com, 0915-3313361
Visit our website: www.alyansatigilmina.net