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Alyansa Laban sa Mina

Home | Affected Sectors | Affected Municipalities | Organizational Profile | Basis for Rejection | Mindoro Nickel Project

Case Brief

History: Entry of the Project

On March 14, 1997, MINDEX Resources Development, Inc. was issued exploration permit by Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau of DENR Region IV, awarding control to a 9,720-hectare concession in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro for nickel/cobalt deposits. The mining site is bounded more proximately to the municipality of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, along the watersheds of Ibulo, Aglubang and Buraboy, river tributaries to Magasawang-Tubig.

The project involves not only mining but also ore processing in Pili, Pinamalayan, using High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) and for its disposal, the Deep Sea Tailing Placement (DSTP) in Tablas Strait. Mindex estimates that the mine site would produce 40,000 tons of nickel and 3,000 tons of cobalt per year. In addition, during the mineral leaching process, 130,000 metric tons of ammonium sulfate are expected to be produced.

In November 13, 1998, during the period that Mindex was applying for a renewal of the exploration permit, an application for a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA AMA-IV-097 and MPSA AMA IVB-103) was submitted by the Aglubang Mining Corporation, covering the same areas being explored by Mindex in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. Aglubang Mining is one of the subsidiaries of Mindex ASA, owning two-third of the concession area.

In February 29, 2000, a Canadian company, Crew Development Corporation has acquired 97.7% of the shares of Mindex ASA, making the former the surviving corporation by virtue of the merger. Mindex changed its name to Crew Minerals Philippines Inc. (CMPI).

The Mindoro Nickel project is now a large nickel-laterite project in the Philippines developed by Crew. The property is held by Aglubang Mining Corp. Inc., a Philippine corporation. Crew has an option to acquire shares in AMC should the project qualify for an FTAA, where 100% foreign ownership is allowed in the Philippines as per a Supreme Court ruling in January 2005.

The original Exploration Permit for the Mindoro project was issued in 1997 and renewed in March 1999 for additional two years. It was the first EP to be renewed in the Philippines under the new Mining Law. Subsequently, in December 2000, Aglubang Mining Corp was granted a Minerals Production Sharing Agreement (docketed as MPSA No167- 2000-IV) covering a large part of the most developed project area, and securing the Company rights to develop and exploit the resource over a 25-year period subject to certain conditions. The remaining parts of the concession area were included in another MPSA application by Alag-Ag Mining Corp.

The full concession area is controlled by the Aglubang and Alag-Ag Mining Corporations, respectively, which are owned by a consortium of Crew Minerals AS and a group of Philippine partners. A pre-feasibility study on the Mindoro Nickel project was completed by Kvaerner Metals, Australia in August, 1998 and it is now in a feasibility stage.


People's Strong Resistance:

A very broad coalition of Mindorenos (people of Mindoro Island) opposed to the mine joined together in May of 1999 to form the organization ALAMIN Alliance opposed to the mine. It included civil society groups, Roman Catholic and Protestant church leaders, NGOs, peoples organisations, schools, teachers and students, mountaineers and environmentalists, peasant groups, human right advocates, Mangyan federations (representing indigenous peoples), elected officials at various levels of government and villages. Several other national and regional NGOs, tribal councils and elected officials campaigned alongside ALAMIN.

The people's unified stand against the Mindoro Nickel Project and their opposition to the entry of any mining operation in the province were clearly articulated in the Ordinance promulgated by the Provincial Council of Oriental Mindoro declaring a mining moratorium in the province. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan Ordinance, passed on January 28, 2002, explicitly forbids all forms of mining in the province, stating that it shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to engage in land clearing, prospecting, exploration, drilling, excavation, mining, transport of mineral ores and such other activities in furtherance of and/or preparatory to all forms of mining operations for a period of twenty-five (25) years. Exempted from the moratorium is the excavation of ordinary stones, sand, gravel earth and other materials, which are operated by small-scale miners.


The Pro-Mining Policy of the National Government:

In spite of its obvious social unacceptability and serious environmental concerns, the mine was approved in December, 2000 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the last days of the regime of President Estrada, who was facing hearings for corruption. In January of 2001, President Estrada fell to the people power revolution, shortly, after which there were huge protests in Mindoro against the approval of the mine.

In July of 2001 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, under the new government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, revoked the mining concession on environmental and social impact grounds. Then DENR Secretary Alvarez explained his decision and that of President Arroyo as being based on the need top protect critical watersheds, to protect the food security of the Mindorenos (local communities), and to respect the social unacceptability of the project. The Mindoro Nickel Project is one case where sustainability is bound to fail President Arroyo is fully aware of the situation. "what does it gain the nation to be short sighted and merely think of money, when an irreparable damage to the environment will cost human lives, health and livelihood capacity of our farmers and fisherfolks endangering the food security of our people," (Heherson Alverez, Philippine Star, November 13, 2001).

The MNP had been rejected overwhelmingly by the people of Mindoro and even by all the local government units. This strong opposition of the people had been one of the decisive factors in the DENR's decision to cancel the MPSA.

However on March 10, 2004, the Office of the President revoked and set aside the Notice of Termination/Cancellation earlier issued against the MPSA (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement) of Aglubang Mining Corporation. What explains the sudden turn-around of government policy? It is quite surprising that the Office of the President will reverse its decision long after the people’s victory had been won.

Crew Gold Corporation, represented by its President and CEO, Jan A. Vestrum, had jubilantly proclaimed the Resolution coming from the Office of the President as signaling the revival of the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) and the change in attitude of the Government of the Philippines towards mining, from that of tolerance to active promotion...

On November 10, 2005, then DENR Secretary Michael Defensor issued an order giving clearance for the exploration activities of Aglubang Mining Corporation subject to the following conditions: that Aglubang shall pursue a comprehensive information, education and communication campaign; that exhaustive social preparation work be conducted to address the opposition to the project; and that necessary permits should be obtained prior to operation. The order of Defensor is based on the alleged endorsement by the local sanggunians of the municipalities of Socorro, Victoria, Pola and Barangay Villa Cerveza.


Recent Developments

On January , 2006, Victoria Resolution was passed reiterating the stand of the Municipal Government of Victoria against mining. All Sangguniang Bayan members voted against the project, and only one was in favor. Subsequently, on January 23, 2006, Municipal Resolution No. 06-06 was passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Pola, Oriental Mindoro and was approved by Mayor Alex Aranas reiterating their strong opposition against the Mindoro Nickel Project. The resolution clarified that the earlier Resolution No. 05-2005, used by Aglubang Mining Corporation and also made a basis for endorsement by Secretary Defensor was actually not an endorsement, but only an expression of posing no objection to the company's request to conduct evaluation or feasibility study regarding the proposed establishment of processing plant and harbor facility in Pola. The Sangguniang Bayan believes that what happened is a case of direct misrepresentation of the true intention of the said resolution.

On January 30, 2006, a caravan-rally was conducted to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the passage of the Provincial Ordinance calling for a 25 year moratorium on large scale mining in the province of Oriental Mindoro. Lead by the PGOM, the Church and the Alyansa Laban sa Mina, the rally showed the unity of all the sectors in the whole province against the Mindoro Nickel Project. The Provincial Governor of Oriental Mindoro, Atty Arnan C. Panaligan disclosed on 30 January, 2006 during the rally attended by some 12,000 people in the town of Pola, this province that the Provincial Government has issued a cease and desist order to the proponents of the Mindoro Nickel Project. The Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro (PGOM) thru its Provincial Legal Officer Atty Lorrybelle M. Tanyag has demanded, ordered and directed the Aglubang Mining Corporation, subsidiary of CREW Gold Corporation, to immediately cease and desist from engaging and performing any activity related to mining within the vicinity of the Municipality of Victoria and other parts of the province of Oriental Mindoro, otherwise the PGOM shall be constrained to file the necessary legal action against the said Corporation.

On February 6, 2006, the Municipal Resolution No. 2005-21 of the Municipal Council of Socorro was passed denying the claim of DENR Secretary Defensor that the Municipality of Socorro is endorsing the mining project of Crew. On that same date, they also passed Resolution No. 2005-22, expressing their strong opposition to the proposed nickel mining in the island of Oriental Mindoro.

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