[Press Release] KIDMADI Bishops Reject the XSTRATA/SMI – Tampakan Copper and Gold Project

The Dioceses of Kidapawan, Marbel and Digos (KIDMADI) reiterate their opposition against the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project by the London based XSTRATA/SMI. As pastors of the flock, they are deeply troubled and concerned on the irreversible damage to the environment particularly to the biodiversity and the last remaining forest, livelihood, food security, health and of the poor communities both of the IPs and the down-stream communities. It is the biggest direct foreign investment to the country at present which amounting to $5.6B, but will it augment its critical damage to agriculture and livelihood of the stakeholders and the country’s economy.

Bishop Romulo dela Cruz, D.D., the ordinary of the diocese of Kidapawan in his letter addressed to the SMI said, “ I have serious reservations about the humongous scale of the project.” And after thorough evaluation and assessment of the EIS  he further noted that, “it fails to convince me that the good which can be expected of the project will outweigh the harm that it brings to man and nature alike. As it stands, I cannot support the project.”

The present mining policies of the Philippines such as Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942), EO 270 (Revitalization of the Philippine Mining industry) and other statutes are all for the extraction of the countries natural resources. These exploitative and destructive mining activities do not promote neither guarantee a Sustainable Development in those communities.

Our National Patrimony, our mineral reserves are exploited aggressively favoring the foreign investors, and what would be left to the Filipino people? Hazardous Waste? The 2% excise tax and other local taxes in which the mining companies are boasting are all fictitious because of its very minimal contribution of the mining industry to the Gross National Product (GNP).

The countries metallic minerals will be all gone and our laws only provide pitiful taxes will be provided for but its destruction of the watershed, protected areas and agricultural zones are irreversible. This economic condition pushes the poor to be marginalized. The poor will be the most vulnerable sector. ALL OUR PRECIOUS METALS ARE GONE FOR FREE. The Mining Act of 1995 and the EO 270 are inconsistent to the newly approved National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NCCAP) 2011-2028 signed by President Benigno C. Aquino III last November 22, 2011.

The Tampakan Copper and Gold Project will go against P’noys’ seven (7) strategic priorities to combat climate change: 1) food security, 2) water sufficiency, 3) ecosystem and environmental stability, 4) human security, 5) climate smart industries and services, 6) sustainable energy, and 7) knowledge and capacity development.

Above all, it goes against the Philippine Constitution which declares as a state policy “to promote healthy and balance ecology.” (Art 2, Sect. 16)

One serious emerging condition of the IP communities defending for their ancestral land is the escalation of violence. According to Fr. Rey Ondap, CP of the Catholic Mission on Indigenous Peoples, “because of strong opposition, tension are prevalent.” There was an alleged harassment of the military in the IP communities. Bishop Dinualdo of Marbel has urged the concerned parties that “we must avoid the escalation of violence.”

After 17 to 20 years SMI/XSTRATA will approximately mine 6.375 million tonnes of copper (375, 000 tonnes per annum) and 6.120 million ounces of gold (360, 000 ounces per annum of gold) in concentrate, who will manage those huge infrastructures? We call for a moratorium to seriously adhere to the voice of the communities.

Bishop Jimmy Afable of Digos shows similar concern since the facilities like fresh water dam and tailings dam will be constracted at the Mal River Catchment, but these huge storage facilities are directly under criss-crossing faultlines. This apprehension was seconded by the reviewer of the EIS of the company that “The Tampakan mine has a high potential for loss of life and  high  environmental damage if a failure of  Dams or Rock Storage facilities occurs.”
Even if the company argues that putting this huge structures under international standard.
The $76M Environmental Impact Assessment cost of the XSTRATA/SMI is not enough study the impact of mining on this one of the most bio-diverse area comprehensively.

It still leaves five general impacts that are not adequately answered:  1) the displacement and resettlement of onsite households, 2) the loss of onsite forest lands and biodiversity resources, 3) the diversion of surface and groundwater for the use of the mine and the displacement of existing in-stream and off stream users, 4) the acid drainage, spillage, leakages, overflows and the pollution of natural water source; 5) the risks of a tailings dam failure or collapse.

The letter of request for a meeting with the president sent by the 3 bishops, Bp. Dinualdo D. Guttierrez, Bp. Jimmy Afable and Bp. Romulo dela Cruz was received in Malacañang last Nov. 9, 2011 tend to discuss with the president some serious concern on XSTRATA/SMI Copper and Gold Project. It pertains to the open pit mining that is very destructive and the location of the mine is in the heart of Quezon Mountain Range and at the same time, at the heart of our forest and watershed. Up to the present no reply was heard concerning the request.

The three (3) dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church gathered the strong 108, 424 signatures that signify the validity of the issues and will be submitted to Malacañang on Dec. 14, 2011 through the National Social Action Secretariat (NASSA-CBCP).

PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF GOD’S CREATION!
PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE COMMUNITIES!
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PROTECT AND PROMOTE THE INTEREST OF HER PEOPLE!
RESPECT THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION!

KIDMADI BISHOPS

(Sgd) Most. Rev. Romulo dela Cruz, D.D.
(Diocese of Kidapawan)

(Sgd) Most Rev. Dinualdo D. Gutierrez, D.D.
(Diocese of Marbel)

(Sgd) Most Rev. Jimmy Affable, D.D.
(Diocese of Digos)

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