Marcopper Placer Dome Mining Disaster, Marinduque Island, Philippines

Flooded villages, toxic rivers, ill residents, children dying: The 1996 Marcopper Placer Dome mining disaster remains one of the largest environmental disasters in Philippine history. The fight for justice still goes on.


Description
The first operations for the Marcopper mine date back to 1956, when the company Placer Dome Limited became active in the area by undertaking extensive geological mapping and drilling. Mining operations started in 1969 through the exploration of the Mt. Tapian ore deposit, containing copper concentrate, as well as gold and silver. At that time, the mine was co-owned by Placer Dome Inc. (39,9%) and its partner, the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos [1;2].
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Basic Data
NameMarcopper Placer Dome Mining Disaster, Marinduque Island, Philippines
CountryPhilippines
ProvinceMarinduque province
SiteSanta Cruz
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesSilver
Copper
Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Marcopper Mining Corporation, held by Placer Development Ltd. (former Placer Dome), operated two mines on Marinduque Philippines; the Mt. Tapian Pit and the San Antonio Mine. The two mines were under operation from 1969 – 1996. [2].
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Project Area (in hectares)4758.32
Level of Investment (in USD)>40,000,000 USD (=secured loan for mining development)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population15,000 directly affected, much more indirectly affected
Start Date1969
Company Names or State EnterprisesMarcopper Mining Corporation from Philippines - mining
Placer Dome Inc. from Canada - mining
Barrick Gold Corporation from Canada
Placer Dome Technical Services Limited (PDTSL) from Canada - mining
MR Holdings from Cayman Islands
Relevant government actorsPhilippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Provincial Government of Marinduque
International and Financial InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB)
Solidbank Corporation from Philippines - finance, banking
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) (RCBC) from Philippines - banking, finance
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMarinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC); Calancan Bay Fisherfolks Federation; Upholding Life and Nature (ULAN); Provincial Government of Marinduque; Kalikasan; Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM); Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; Protestant National Council of Churches; Calancan Bay Villagers Support Coalition (CBVSC); Mining Watch, and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Fishermen
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths, Other Health impacts, Other environmental related diseases
Otherblood intoxication by heavy metals and other substances (lead, cyanide) and subsequent deaths.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Compensation
Project cancelled
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Withdrawal of company/investment
Migration/displacement
Court decision (undecided)
There have been settlement processes between the company and the provincial government, but no acceptable outcome was achieved. The court decided that the provincial government may re-file the case in Canada.
Development of AlternativesThe provincial government of Marinduque has filed a lawsuit against the company, demanding proper compensation for the vast damages as well as clean-up activities and a clean up fund. The provincial government of Marinduque further pursues a Moratoria on Mining on the Island in order to become a mining-free zone.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The damages are vast and irreversible. There hasn't been proper compensation (if possible) or proper environmental clean-up.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

References

[4] Sarah Beamish, Extracting Accountability: The Need to End Impunity for Environmental Crimes and Human Rights Abuses Committed by Canadian Corporations Abroad (New Haven, Ct.: One Justice Project, 2014).
[click to view]

Links

[7] GMA News online (17/09/2008). SC tells RCBC to go after Marcopper: (accessed 20/04/2015)
[click to view]

[1] Socialwatch 2005. Marinduque mining disaster (accessed 20/04/2015)
[click to view]

[2] Mining Watch /Catherine Coumans. 2002. Placer Dome Case Study: Marcopper Mine. (accessed 20/04/2015)
[click to view]

[5] Mining Watch Canada 2014. Philippine Province’s Lawsuit against Barrick Gold Could End Up in Canada. (accessed 20/04/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Business World online (25.03.2015). Mining-free Marinduque? (accessed 20/04/2015)
[click to view]

Media Links

Video Documentary on the case “Bleeding Heart”
[click to view]

Other Documents

[3] Historical Overview of and Updates on Mining in Marinduqe and its Impacts. Marinduque Council of Environmental Concerns (MACEC). 2005 (accessed 20/04/2015) Source: http://es.slideshare.net/no2mininginpalawan/historical-overview-of-and-updates-on-mining-in-marinduque
[click to view]

Marcopper Mining Spills Source: http://www.rappler.com/business/special-report/whymining/whymining-latest-stories/16197-whymining-conversation-philex-vs-marcopper
[click to view]

Marcopper pit Source: http://www.ecogrout.com/hot-bitumen-grouting-stops-major-inflow-philippines/marcopper-philippines-1/
[click to view]

Waste disposal into the Bay Source: http://www.miningwatch.ca/blog/philippines-marinduque-pushed-wall-barrick-gold
[click to view]

The Marcopper Tapian pit Source: http://www.miningwatch.ca/blog/philippines-marinduque-pushed-wall-barrick-gold
[click to view]

River contamined by copper-sulphate Source: http://www.miningwatch.ca/blog/philippines-marinduque-pushed-wall-barrick-gold
[click to view]

[8] Marinduque Mining Tenement Map
[click to view]

Situation of Mogpog river now in Marinduque
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Last update24/04/2015
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