Mamanwa tribesmen lift barricade vs mining firm

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/26 June)—Members of the Mamanwa tribe have lifted their barricade against the Adnama Mining Resources Inc. (AMRI) after they were paid P10 million in royalty fees.

Datu Reynante Buklas, one of the Mamanwa chieftains, said they lifted the blockade at the mine site of AMRI in Barangay Urbiztondo, Claver town in Surigao del Norte after they got their initial royalty payment from the company.

AMRI is extracting nickel ore within the 48,679-hectare ancestral domain of the Mamanwas. The company ships the deposit to China.

Buklas said they set up last June 15 the barricade at the mining site, paralyzing the operations of the company, for non-payment of royalties due to them.

In a text message, he told MindaNews Tuesday night that they got the initial P10 million royalty payment from AMRI last June 19, paving the way for the company to resume operations.

AMRI owes the Mamanwas a royalty payment totaling P30 million for the year 2012, he added.

But Dulmar M. Raagas, president of the Chamber of Mines in Caraga Region, denied that AMRI failed to pay its royalty obligation to the Mamanwa tribe, the holder of the ancestral domain title.

“It’s not the AMRI who failed to meet the obligations. On the contrary, AMRI has fully paid its royalty payments on time. The delay was on the part of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP),” Raagas said.

He said he had talked with Omar Abanid, AMRI vice president and mine site manager, about the matter.

Raagas said the Mamanwa tribesmen should demand the NCIP to release their royalty fees.

MindaNews tried but failed to reach AMRI and NCIP officials for comments.

Buklas said it was Abanid and another staff who gave them the check and have it deposited to their bank account last Wednesday.

This was not the first time that the Mamanwa tribesmen held a barricade against a mining company in the area.

In 2009, Buklas and other chieftains barricaded against Taganito Mining Corp., forcing the company to pay its royalty obligations from 2006 to 2008 amounting to P72.5 million.

It was touted as the “largest royalty payment” ever made to a tribe in the country’s mining history.

Three other mining companies are operating in Claver— Shen Zhou Mining Group Corp., Platinum Group Mining Corp. and the Taganito High Pressure Acid Leach Nickel Corporation.

The latter has just started the commissioning for its hydrometallurgical processing plant in preparation for their commercial production this September.

Buklas stressed that if mining companies in the area would not pay their royalty fees, they would not hesitate to hold a barricade against them to stop their operations.

“If they don’t want to pay, they should stop mining and get out of our lands,” Buklas said in Surigaonon.

Under the Mining Act of 1995 and the Ingenious Peoples Rights Act of 1997, Lumads are entitled to one percent of the gross earnings of mining operations in their ancestral areas. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)