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Alyansa Laban sa Mina

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

Basis for rejection of the Project

WE are united in defending our right for a balanced and sustainable ecology. The pre-feasibility study conducted by Kvaerner Metals, an international engineering firm commissioned by the mining company itself, admitted the environmental risk associated with the mining project like degradation of agriculturally productive land, degradation of marine and fishery resources due to mine waste disposal, increased erosion and sediment yield, effects on surface and groundwater supply and quality, among many more negative environmental impacts. Thre rejection of the mining project on the premise of preventing ecological destruction was articulated by the former DENR Secretary, Heherson Alvarez himself: "What does it gain a 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?"


WE protest the deceptive strategy and manipulation employed by the mining company to project pseudo-consent from the Mangyan communities. The Mangyan Indigenous Peoples organizations of SANAMA and KAMTI, whose ancestral domain falls within the mining concession, had also expressed their written opposition. However, the Crew-Aglubang company, in collusion with some officials of the NCIP, organized a new tribal group, the Kabilogan, from whom they maliciously manufactured the document of support to the mining activities. Former DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez, explaining his reason for cancelling Crew-Aglubang's MPSA, noted this defective process of obtaining IP's consent: "The MPSA area is covered by ancestral domain claims of not only the Kabilogan tribe but of other Mangyan tribes. The pertinent rules and regulations of the Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997 provide that where a project affects a whole range of territories convening two or more ancestral domains, the consent of all affected Indigenous Cultural Communities Indigenous Peoples shall be secured. Aglubang has not secured such consent" (emphasis supplied).


WE deplore the deception that the mining company employed in trying to make people believe that the Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD) or Subsea Tailings Placement (STP) is a well-established method of tailings disposal for the last 25 years in major continents. Crew also claims that STD is proven to be environmental friendly and that this disposal process is widely accepted even in Canada and in the U.S. Insisting on this premise, the mining company intended to dump the 4 million tons per year of its mine waste, in Mindoro waters, in the coast of Pinamalayan and the productive fishing grounds of the Tablas Strait! However, Crew's claim for the safety of STD was later exposed to be farcical and utterly misleading. In several studies documenting the experiences of communities, like in Lihir and Misima Mine in Papua New Guinea, in Buyat Bay in Sulawesi, Indonesia, it was found out that STD is destructive of the fragile coral eco-system it smothers living organisms, degrades marine and water environment, threatens ecological balance and allows heavy metals and other pollutants to enter the food chain. Moreover, it was found out that STD had been effectively banned in Canada since 1977, under the Canadian Federal Metal Mining Liquid Effluent Regulations, and in section 35 of Canada's Fisheries Act! STD is also considered illegal in the U.S. and has never been proposed in Australia, for it violates the spirit of international covenants that protect the marine environment. It is for this reason that the DENR, in its Memorandum Order No. 99-32, (Policy Standards and Guidelines for Mine Waste) had not recommended the use of STD but only allows it under stringent conditions. And only recently, in July 2004, more than 100 citizens from North Sulawesi Province in Indonesia suffer from Minamata disease, which was suspected to be caused by heavy metal contamination of arsenic and mercury of Buyat Bay. The bay is the site of the Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD) operation of PT Newmont Minahasa Raya.


WE oppose the proposed construction of on-land tailings impoundment in the municipality of Pola as an alternative to STD/STP in waste-disposal method. The mining operation is expected to dump around four million tons of mine waste annually, which is simply beyond the manageable level and the risk of toxic spills is rather high, as what happened in La Fayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay. Despite La Fayette's touted status as the show case of modern and responsible mining technology and the country's flagship mining project, the company admitted that they had to discharge waste water into the sea due to technical problem with a defective valve and the uncontrollable factor of heavy rains. If this situation happens in Pola, the rest of the Naujan Lake National Park will be rendered vulnerable to pollutants and toxic mine spills! Then Crew Country Manager himself, Arne Isberg, admitted in his letter to then DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez, dated June 19, 2001: "An on-land impoundment would permanently occupy a large land area and there would always be a certain risk of failure/collapse that could result in substantial spillage." Further, on July 26, 2000, Isberg, sent another letter to then President Joseph Estrada, asserting, among other things that Deep Sea Tailings Disposal (DSTP) is becoming the environmentally preferred method for tailings management in many countries, as traditional on land tailings impoundment in tropical and seismically active countries such as Philippines has caused lot of problems the environment.Crew's country manager himself had made declarations against the use of on-land impoundment for being risky and damaging to environment because of inevitable spillage. Why is the company now insists on its use when Isberg himself is more than convinced of its risk and danger?


WE commit ourselves to stop the destruction of our remaining forest eco-system. We, in the province of Oriental Mindoro, has just experienced and witnessed the destruction brought about by three consecutive floods in December 2005, submerging the City of Calapan and the neighboring municipalities of Baco and Naujan. The calamities affected thousands of families who had been displaced from their homes. Many of them are until now, in need of assistance for their rehabilitation. The crops and agricultural production were also severely damaged at a total cost amounting to hundreds of million pesos. Admittedly, torrential rain inundated the river, but the flash flood was undeniably aggravated by the denudation of the forest cover. The upstream watershed had long been subjected to commercial logging, and until now illegal cutting of trees has continued unabated. But the proposed large-scale mining, the Mindoro Nickel Project of the Crew Development Corporation, will further destroy the forest eco-system by directly doing its extraction in our already fragile watershed.


WE categorically reject the mining project because it directly threatens the ecological integrity of the critical watershed since the mining concession covers the watershed of four major rivers supporting 70% of the total areas for rice production. On May 13, 1996, the Regional Technical Director of the Forest Management Bureau, in his memorandum to the Director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) declared that the applied mining site, in fact a big portion of it as shown in the enclosed map, falls within Mag-asawang Tubig Watershed Reforestration Project and Proposed Watershed Reservation, while some areas fall within the established reforestration plantation of the DENR, within Unclassified Public Forest, within proposed CFSA/ISF, and within Mindoro Agricultural School Reservation. And only a very small portion belongs to alienable and disposable land classification. Moreover, the report of Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau, in a study conducted by Claro Jose C. Manipon, et al., dated June 28, 2001, also confirms that Crew Minerals has a 30% real stake in the Mag-asawang Tubig River watershed. This fact was confirmed by then DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez, in his letter published in Philippine Star, dated November 13, 2001, where he reported his findings that: "The project site forms part of the recharge area of watershed where the headwaters of Mag-asawang Tubig emanates. The extraction of the Nickel ore deposits by strip mining method will aggravate risk of reducing recharge capability and increasing siltation, even with Best Mining Practice . . . Downstream of the Magasawang Tubig lies vast irrigated ricelands from where thousands of Mindorenos are dependent for their food security. No amount of mitigating measures can take away the risks faced by these areas" (emphasis supplied).


WE maintain that the MPSA issued to Crew Minerals through its affiliate, Aglubang Mining Corporation is null and void ab initio, for the project does not have social acceptability, for the Mindorenos are fully aware of the environmental risks and of the deceptive manipulation committed by the mining company. Long before the cancellation of Aglubang's MPSA, the people of Oriental Mindoro had already spoken. Through the broadest coalition ever assembled in the province's history, ALAMIN (Alyansa Laban sa Mina) was able to staged series of peaceful protest actions attended by a total of 50,000 people to show our strong opposition to the proposed Mindoro Nickel Project. Almost a hundred of resolutions expressing resistance to the mining project had been drafted by different institutions, organizations, churches, sectoral organizations, All the affected local government units, through their Sangguniang Bayan Resolutions, had expressed their unequivocal opposition to the project. In view of the foregoing, lacking the approval of the Sanggunian (councils), we concur with then DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez, in his memo to the President dated 11 April 2001, that the MPSA cannot be said to be valid and enforceable for Aglubang to commence any mining operation. And should Aglubang fail to secure the necessary approval of the local sanggunian (councils) and EMB's EIA, the MPSA may be suspended if not altogether cancelled.


WE do not subscribe to the propaganda of the mining company that mining will bring about the needed development to our province. Large-scale mining does not really benefit the economy of the resource dependent country. A comparative study conducted by Harvard economists, find out that countries with a high ratio of natural resource-based exports to Gross Domestic product (GDP) tended to grow more slowly than countries with less resource intensive economies. Also, a study conducted by Lancaster University in the U.K. found out that mineral reliant, resource-rich countries were among the poorest economic performers between 1960 and 1993. The altruistic posture being projected by the mining company, claiming that they come to bring development, is only part of a desperate scheme to win the approval of the people. The Marinduque experience belied the claim of transnational corporations' exercise of corporate social responsibility. It proved the long-held accusation that the transnational mining company's objective in exploiting our resources is primarily maximization of profit and they could not be expected to invest on social development and environmental rehabilitation. When the Marcopper disaster occurred, Placer Dome readily evaded accountability by divesting from its investment and pulling out of the country, leaving behind toxic mine tailings in the Boac River, the threat of 5 dangerously unstable mine structures and the uncompensated Marinduquenos affected by the 1996 spill. Only recently, on October 5, 2005, the Provincial Government of Marinduque filed a landmark $100 million-suit against Placer Dome for damaging the environment and the health of the residents of the province.


WE stand united to uphold and defend our stand against the entry of any mining operation in the province as 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.


WE demand respect for the sovereign will of the people and the recognition of our right to chart our own direction of development. As aptly stated in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 259-99: the Mindoro Nickel Project is incompatible with the sustainable development agenda of the Provincial Government which is anchored on food security, eco-tourism and agro-industrial development, much less, the development of mining industry is logically being ruled out in the Physical Framework Plan of Oriental Mindoro which stresses more on the environment-related strategies for sustainable land use. Mining corporations should refrain from imposing their profit-driven agenda and in manipulating the national government's bureaucracy, which have become too accommodating in promoting the plunder of our environment in exchange for investments.

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