SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/03 August) – Taganito Mining Corporation, now under the Nickel Asia Corporation Group of Companies, has paid a total of P72.5 million to the Mamanwa, the indigenous peoples on whose ancestral domain the mining firm operates in Claver, Surigao del Norte.
Jane Urbanek, Group Community Relations Manager, told the 1st Caraga Media Conference last Saturday that after the payment of P51.5 million in February 2009, for the 1% royalty from July 2006 to December 2007, the firm paid P21 million to the Lumads’ association, on December 18, 2009 for the 1% royalty for the year 2008.
Under the Philippine Mining Act and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) or Lumads on whose ancestral domain a mining firm operates, are entitled to a royalty/share of 1% of the gross production/output.
TMC on February 19, 2009 deposited P51,536,292.46 to the account of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Ampantrimtu) in the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Surigao City.
TMC President Gerard H. Brimo, in his letter to lawyer Jose Dumagan, acting regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said the amount “represents 1% of our gross sales of Nickel laterite computed from July 2006 (the date of our Memorandum of Agreement with the Ampantrimtu) to December 2007 from our Taganito mine.”
“We believe that this is the largest IP royalty payment to date by any mining company pursuant to the 1995 Mining Act and the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997). We are delighted to play such a major role in the advancement of our Mamanwa brothers and we look forward to continuing good relations with them and the NCIP.”
Brimo also said that once the audited sales figures of laterite shipments in 2008 are finalized, “we will provide a similar computation for the royalty due. In the absence of any specific guidelines on when this should be paid, we propose to pay the 1% royalty on sales for the first half of 2008 at the end of June and the royalty for the second half or 2008 at the end of September.”
Urbanek told MindaNews that the payment for the 2008 royalty was made on December 18, 2009.
She said TMC will be paying P10 million “more or less” for the 2009 royalty. “This is subject to the agreed-upon sharing between the Taganito/Urbiztondo Mamanwa community and the Indirectly Affected Mamanwa communities. NCIP would have the documents pertaining to their sharing agreements, and the figures.”
Asked about the royalty payment for the first six months of 2010, Urbanek replied, “Usually, we compute on a yearly basis. 2010 is not over yet.”
Changes have apparently been made on the payment schedule since Brimo’s February 2009 letter proposed payment for the first half and second half of the year.
A nickel processing plant is now at its initial stage of construction. “We are on the initial stage. First year. It will take about four years to complete the project. During the construction stage, a maximum of about 4,000 workers will be needed,” she said.
Urbanek added that when the plant’s operations start, “only about 1,000 skilled staff will be needed.”
Urbanek also said the company paid P822 million taxes in 2008 and 2009 but could not say how much of this went to the coffers of Makati, the firm’s main office, and how much went to the coffers of Barangay Taganito, Claver town and Surigao del Norte province.
The Taganito Times issue of January to March 2010 said TMC paid P387 million in 2008 and P316 million in 2009 for national taxes (income tax, excise tax, customs, VAT, documentary and royalty tax). It also paid 6.4 million local taxes (business tax, real property, occupancy fee, community tax, registration fees, wharfage fees and permit fees W/T on), and P61.1 million in 2008 on withheld taxes (payroll, w/t on royalties, w/t on dividends/expanded); and P39.7 million in 2009.
Out of 822 million paid in 2008 and 2009, a total of 15.4 million in local taxes were paid.
Urbanek told the conference participants that the Mamanwas are now being trained for livelihood and that they would soon sell “pizza and pasta” with the construction workers as their market. “They love (pizza and pasta),” Urbanek, who claims to be an IP from Palawan, said of the Mamanwa.
Asked further about this plan in an e-mail, Urbanek replied to MindaNews: “The Mamanwa Store and Cafe is going to be constructed this month. The building plans are ready. There will be training on: how to manage a business like this (their products, grocery and cafe), simple bookkeeping, marketing, menu-making, pricing, quality control, waitering, cashiering, etc. This store will be the display center of the Mamanwa products like their mats, bead necklaces and other baskets, their farm products…Pizza and pasta are going to be ‘additions’ to their menu… bearing in mind the big market of workers in the area because of the THPAL project.”
In September last year, Sumitomo Metal Mining of Japan and Nickel Asia Corporation, the country’s biggest nickel mining group, signed a memorandum of understanding in Japan to proceed with a $1.3-billion nickel-processing plant in the municipality of Claver, Surigao del Norte.
TMC will supply all of the required nickel ore to the plant over an estimated 30-year project life, while Nickel Asia will take a 20- to 25-percent equity interest in the project under a joint venture company called THPAL Corp. The output of the plant, a mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide, will be purchased by Sumitomo for final processing at its refinery in Japan.
The Taganito plant will reportedly be thrice bigger the size of the Coral Bay plant in Southern Palawan. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)