Miners bewail exclusion in int’l mining conference in Davao

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/26 January) – Mining industry players under the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) castigated Thursday the 2012 International Conference of Mining in Mindanao for apparently excluding them from the event.

Organized by the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the mining conference kicked off Thursday until Friday in Davao City.

In a statement, Rocky G. Dimaculangan, COMP vice president for communications, said they earlier sent a letter addressed to Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, AdDU president, requesting participation in the conference, but the group did not receive a response.

In its letter, the chamber said, “We do understand your anxieties and your genuine concern for the protection of our environment and our people and we share the same concern particularly on how we can efficiently utilize our resources for the betterment of our country and citizens.”

The COMP stressed that in order to achieve this, it is necessary to pursue real multi-stakeholder dialogues.

“At this time, we believe we should be engaging with various groups in order to understand the perspectives of others on the mining industry as we recognize that in moving forward, we need to appreciate each other’s concerns, respect views and opinions because in the end, we know that we can work together on commonly-shared values,” the letter reads.

Conference organizers could not immediately be reached for comments.

COMP also pointed out the participation of Dr. Catherine Coumans, Dr. Robert Goodland, and Mr. Clive Wicks as guest speakers, foreigners known for their staunch opposition to mining in the Philippines through their works based on visits to mine sites in the country and on extensive consultation with anti-mining organizations.

Dr. Goodland was to specifically discuss the Tampakan Copper-Gold project in South Cotabato, a project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).

SMI repeatedly asked, also through Fr. Tabora, to be allowed to present the Environmental Impact Assessment findings on the project during the conference but the company’s request was snubbed, COMP said.

“It has thus become clear that the International Conference on Mining in Mindanao was organized with the end in view of stopping mining all over the country. Undoubtedly, the Conference organizers will echo the call of the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) for a blanket moratorium on mining based on a report described by former AdDU President Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, S.J. as ‘ivory tower theorizing on the mining industry’,” COMP further said in the statement.

ASoG organized a similar mining conference in November 2011 wherein COMP members were also not invited to take part, the statement said.

Dimaculangan said that the legitimate large-scale mining firms aim for “consultative, transparent, and active” links with their host communities.

Mindanao is home to some of the mining areas in the Philippines, one of the richest mineralized countries in the world, with the largest mineral resources that could be tapped and contribute to national economic development.

“We believe that mining, if done responsibly, can act as a catalyst for strengthening the country’s economic base,” Dimaculangan said.

Mindanao has the largest resources and reserves inventory in the country of copper at five billion tons, gold at 3.4 billion tons, aluminum at 292 million tons, and iron at 411 billion tons, according to the COMP statement. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)