US-Aquino regime favors big mining companies

ANG BAYAN
21 January 2012


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The Communist Party of the Philippines strongly condemned the US-Aquino regime for exploiting the January 5 tragedy in Pantukan, Compostela Valley to forcibly evict poor and small miners and mining workers from their community. The regime is blaming small miners for the series of landslides in the area. In fact, the landslides are due to exploration activities by big mining companies and past logging operations.

Since the 1950s, big logging and mining companies have been feasting on the bounties of Compostela Valley’s mountains. Maintaining one of the biggest operations is Aguinaldo Development Corporation (ADECOR) which exports logs and plywood to Japan. Since 1969, mining exploration has been conducted in Pantukan municipality by the Nationwide Development Corp. (NADECOR) and the Mitsubishi Metals Mining Corporation of Japan. In the 1990s, Benguet Corporation and its American partner entered the picture. More foreign mining companies poured in with the passage of the Mining Act of 1995. In 1995-97 came Kingking Mines Inc., a partner of EchoBay Mines Inc. and Toronto Ventures Inc., both Canadian-owned companies.

The widespread denudation of the forests and excavations by foreign companies in the area have resulted in many tragedies, the most striking of which was the landslide that occurred at the Apex Mining Corporation mining site in Barangay Masara, Maco town in 2008 that killed 27 residents.

Even before the January 5 tragedy, the US-Aquino regime and the mining companies had already wanted the workers and small miners out of the area. Russell Mining and Minerals Inc. (RMMI) posted an armed security force to ensure its control. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also deployed the 71st IB in Barangay Tibagon, Pantukan. These armed forces sow terror in the mining communities and have committed many human rights violations.

On April 12, 2011, elements of the 71st IB killed Santos “Ricky” Manrique, 49, president of the Federation of Miners’ Associations in Pantukan (FEDMAP). Manrique, who was killed in his house in Napnapan, Pantukan was active in the struggle against the entry of foreign big mining companies in the area. The entire area is now under Oplan Bayanihan.

Kingking Gold-Copper Project. The small miners, their families, church people and antimining activists are mainly opposed to the Kingking Gold-Copper Project (KG-CP) which aims to extract gold and copper from the villages of Kingking and Napnapan in Pantukan. The KG-CP is likewise linked to the biggest gold and copper deposits in Mt. Diwalwal which is in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley.

The mountains of Pantukan are rich in gold and copper deposits. Based on the latest studies, it is estimated that 13 out of the town’s 15 barangays possess such mineral deposits. But the most concentrated deposits are in the mountainous areas of Kingking and Napnapan that cover 1,650 hectares.

The KG-CP will be able to extract an esimated 791.5 million tons of gold and copper worth $70 billion or more than P3 trillion. Its target area is therefore known to have one of the biggest untapped gold and copper reserves worldwide. It will reportedly take 23 years before these deposits are depleted. This explains why several big foreign mining companies have been coveting the area’s mineral wealth so much.

With its potential revenues, the KG-CP has been cited as one of the lead projects of the US-Aquino regime and forms part of the Mindanao 2020 Program.

Thirteen companies applied with and vied for a place under the KG-CP in 2009, but RMMI, an American company in joint venture with NADECOR was favored above the rest and granted a 1,650-hectare concession. It began operations in 2011. RMMI simultaneously expanded its concession to 4,000 hectares.

In June 2010, the Aquino regime also granted Napnapan Mineral Resources Inc. (NMRI) a 4,500-hectare concession through a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA).

The KG-CP utilizes open-pit mining, thus making the destruction of the environment and the people’s livelihoods a foregone conclusion.

More than 8,000 families or 40,000 residents are set to be evicted from their farms once the RMMI begins its operations. Among the areas to be covered by the foreign-owned companies’ operations are the Mansaka tribe’s more than 8,000-hectare ancestral lands.

In 2011, the residents of Pantukan began their struggle against the giant foreign mining companies.