[Press Release] Groups Condemn Government for Awarding ECC of SMI/Xtrata -PMCJ

Groups Condemn Government for Awarding ECC of SMI/Xtrata:
TAMPAKAN MINING WILL WORSEN CLIMATE RISK IN MINDANAO

pmcj logoIn a recent development that will worsen the vulnerability of the country, particularly Mindanao, climate justice and environmental groups strongly denounce the P-Noy Administration for recently awarding the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of SMI/Xtrata and pursuing the construction of the mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato amidst strong protest.

“We strongly condemn this decision of the DENR and Malacanang!” said Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), “Typhoon Pablo proved that Mindanao is not safe from disasters brought by typhoons and flooding. The approval of mining in Tampakan, as well as other areas in Mindanao, will only aggravate these climate risks and impair the adaptive capacity of communities near the area.” said Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

Yesterday, February 19, 2013, the DENR granted Xstrata and its local subsidiary Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) its ECC after pressure from Malacanang. Last February 4, 2013 Malacanang through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, the national government lambasted the decision of the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) of denying SMI/Xtrata its application for an ECC.

SMI/Xtrata was twice denied by the DENR of its ECC “until the issues and concerns on the use of open pit mining method shall have been clarified and resolved by the Company (SMI) with the Provincial Government of South Cotabato.”

“Studies have shown that recent devastations caused by Typhoon Pablo (2012) in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, parts of CARAGA region, and Typhoon Sendong (2011) in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan are directly and indirectly caused and worsened by logging and mining in those areas” Arances stressed, “Malacanang have condemned the people of South Cotabato, Saranggani, Davao del sur, and Sultan Kudarat with this act!”

Anti-mining and environmental campaigners agree to these assertions. “Even with great care, mining will always be a threat to our natural resources and to human beings alike. Tampakan will not only exhaust the minerals for the interest of big foreign mining corporations, but it will also fuel climate disasters and can potentially replicate the Philex disaster in Padcal, Benguet.” said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, also a member PMCJ.

Last August 2012, the leading promoter of responsible mining in the country, Philex Mining Corp. faced charges from the government due to the leaking of 20 million metric tons of mining waste into the two major rivers in the Cordillera region when its tailings pond burst due to heavy rains. According to DENR, this is the biggest mining disaster in the Philippines.

Tampakan: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Based on SMI/Xtrata’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the basis for the granting of its ECC, it will have to cut 800 hectares of virgin forest in the area, will use up and waste billions of litres of freshwater, displace thousands of indigenous peoples from their ancestral domain and erect the largest tailings dam in the country, where 1.1 BILLION tons of toxic tailings/wastes will be stored.

“In an area where rainfall is rising and is expected to rise even further, erecting the biggest tailings dam in the country, is a disaster in the waiting, ala Marinduque and Padcal disasters” adds Garganera.

A recent data of the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) culled from the mid-range scenario study of PAGASA stating that Region XII will expect 14.8 percent increase in rainfall with a 0.9C to 1.3C increase in temperature. Rains last month affected the provinces of Saranggani, South Cotabato and General Santos City where 1,102 families where affected by severe flooding due to intense rains in three days.

“With the impacts of heavy rains that our province had just recently experienced, all the more that we cannot allow the contruction of the Tampakan project.” exclaims Agapito Dimol, Program staff of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Socsargen Chapter and a resident of General Santos City

FDC Socsargen Chapter sees that climate impacts, mainly due to storms, will only get worse and will not spare their region.

“The residents of South Cotabato have voiced its rejection of the Tampakan project since the beginning, as embodied in our provincial ordinance banning open-pit mining. The national government should recognize this.” Dimol adds, “we demand that they revoke the ECC.”

“Mining has no place in highly vulnerable areas in the Philippines. The P-Noy Administration must heed the call of its citizens and once and for all reject the Tampakan project. We must prepare ourselves for disasters and not do the opposite. Arances concludes.
About PMCJ:
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) is a broad movement consisting of 103 national networks/alliances and local organizations representing basic sectors, grassroots communities, the marginalized and most vulnerable, including women, indigenous peoples, fisher folk and coastal communities, farmers and rural communities, forest communities, formal and informal workers, environmental groups, urban poor, and others in the Philippines that aims to lead the joint struggles, campaigns and actions in putting forward the climate justice framework as a fundamental element of solving the climate crisis.

 

Please refer to:

Gerry Arances, PMCJ Coordinator, 09328778578,gerry.arances@gmail.com

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, 09277617602,nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Agapito Dimol, FDC Socsargen Program Staff, 09212861341,gscfdc@yahoo.com

PressRelease
February 20, 2013

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