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mining company hits back over Philippines claims

April 2007

One of the main mining companies operating in the Philippines has rejected trenchant allegations made in an international report that the industry has brought environmental disaster and murder to the islands.

The report says the countryside is littered with more than 800 abandoned mines, and the industry has been guilty of serious human rights abuses. Many of the 800 killings recorded since 2001 are believed to be directly linked to protests against mining, it says.

The 66-page report, Mining in the Philippines – Concerns and Conflicts, followed a visit to the islands by a team led by Clare Short, a Labour MP in the UK parliament and a former international development minister. Short said in her foreword to the report that she was ‘deeply shocked’ by what she found, adding that ‘the mining companies have failed to comply with national law and international standards’.

Signatories to the report were representatives of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy – set up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources – the Philippines Indigenous Peoples Links and the Society of St Columban.

They recommended that the Philippines government should cancel all applications for mining that would cause more serious environmental harm, that the British Crew Development Group should remove its Mindoro nickel project in view of its potential damage to the water catchment area, agriculture and the marine environment, that all projects should be inspected by reputable independent organizations before any investment, and that all financial bodies, including the World Bank, should refuse to back mining projects in the country anyway until the government stops the human rights violations and environmental disruption.

However, the report was condemned by the Canadian company TVI Resource Development Philippines as selective and one-sided. TVI complained that the team had not verified information sources, had not been open about vested interests, and had not contacted the targeted companies before reporting.
TVI emphasized that in its Canatuan project it had introduced programmes to achieve sustainable development for the indigenous community and to promote human rights. This project, said TVI, promised long-term economic development for a poor and troubled area.

The company said its operations had the government’s approval and rejected allegations that it was implicated in harassment by the military. Army units, it said, guarded the Canatuan site against criminal and terrorist attacks. Any complaints of military harassment should be put to the army.

TVI also pointed out that it had spent 130million Philippines pesos ($2.7m, £1.4m) on environmental management and protection in 2004 and 2005. It had allocated 80m pesos for this purpose last year and the figure could rise to 200m pesos.

The report had said that since TVI had started work at the head of the local river watershed fishermen and farmers had experienced poorer water quality and the waters were yielding fewer fish because of silt and cyanide contamination. TVI, however, claimed the disturbed watershed area was tiny and that no leaks of contaminants had been found in its monthly tests. It added that reported cases of skin rashes were not due to water contamination but to scabies, caused by mites.

TVI indicated that it was considering more mining work in the Philippines.




Further Information
http://www.philippinesfactfinding.blogspot.com
http://www.iucn.org/themes/ceesp/Wkg_grp/Seaprise/Mining%20in%20the%20Philippines%20-%20Concerns%20and%20Conflicts.pdf
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