By DEE AYROSO
The environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) hailed the exit of the Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore from the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in Mindanao, calling it “a victory for the people.”
“Glencore, potentially the largest mining project in the country to date, ultimately failed in the face of massive people’s resistance against foreign and large-scale mining,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
The project covers 10,000 hectares in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, which has an estimated 2.4 billion metric ton deposit, containing 13.5 million metric tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold.
In a June 24 statement, Glencore said it had signed a share sale agreement with an affiliate of the Australian company, Indophil Resources-NL, for the sale of its remaining interest in the Tampakan project. In January this year, Glencore had divested part of its share to Alsons Prime Investments Corporation.
Sagitarrius Mines Inc (SMI), which is the government’s contractor for the project, was controlled 40 percent by a joint venture of Glencore-Xstrata Copper and Indophil, of which Glencore has 62.5 percent, and Indophil holds 37.5 percent. The 60 percent non-controlling equity is held by the Tampakan Group of Companies.
The company’s exit comes even before it started its production, targeted in 2016. In 2001, Glencore assumed the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) over the project from Western Mining Company (WMC). Its exploration had met fierce resistance from the surrounding B’laan communities, peasants, environment, church and human rights groups.
“Glencore-SMI has been eager to plunder the estimated 2.4 billion metric tons of copper-gold deposits in Mindanao since 1992, but has been stopped time and again even as it is currently supported by the Aquino administration,” Bautista said.
Bautista said the Glencore had been landgrabbing 24,000 hectares of ancestral lands, forest and farms, and had caused the displacement of at least 5,000 people, and loss of livelihood to some 40,000 others.
At least 10 people had been killed by suspected state forces and paramilitary groups, in an effort to suppress opposition, Bautista said.
“Glencore was also the mastermind behind the vilification and illegal detention by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera Jr. in 2014,” Bautista said.
Bautista said the new mining company in Tampakan “will face the same stiff resistance from the Filipino people.”
“We will never stop defending our lands, rights and natural resources. Indophil, SMI, and other large-scale foreign mining giants should completely abandon the Tampakan mining project and leave Mindanao,” he said.