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Glencore Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, Philippines

Militarization and killings as key ingredients of one of the largest mining areas in South East Asia for copper and gold; seek for justice still ongoing


The Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in the Philippines, owned by Glencore Xstrata, the Australian Indophil, and the local subsidiary Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI), is one of the largest copper-gold mines in Southeast Asia. It covers a mine area of around 10,000 hectares in in the municipalities of Malungon (Sarangani), Columbio (Sultan Kudarat), Tampakan (South Cotabato) and Kiblawan (Davao del Sur), as well as four provinces in the Davao Region and the Regions XI and XII. The project directly impacts watersheds, around 3,000 hectares of forest, and ancestral domains that are sacred for local populations. An estimate of 5,000 people, mostly indigenous peoples, will have to be re-settled as a consequence of the mining, and many more are likely to be affected. The operations will also endanger food and water sources, impacting living conditions and possibly leading to social unrest. The risks of pollution, erosion, siltation, flash floods, landslides, and other seismic geo-hazards are also very high. For these reasons the Bla’an people and other indigenous tribes have been protesting against the mining project. In response to the strong opposition of local populations, however, military forces and paramilitary groups have been deployed in the area and are acting in defence of the investment. This militarization resulted in the killing of anti-mining and indigenous peoples leaders, and other countless violations of human rights. Juvy Capion and her sons Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 6, were killed in 2012 in an operation mounted by the military in Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur against her husband, Daguel Capion. History of the conflict During the mandate of the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a governmental order was issued, which allowed police, military and paramilitary forces to be employed to defend investments projects that could be threatened by insurgents. This order was the basis for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between SMI and the local governments that created the Special Forces KITACO, in 2008. This MoU legalized the entry of military and paramilitary forces into ancestral Bla’an territory. The repeated entrances of security forces were accompanied by several violations of human rights and the murder of tribal leaders that opposed the investment project. The KITACO forces are composed by private intelligence groups, as well as by personnel of the police and army of the Government of the Philippines. Several local executives and other members of the National Police of the Philippines confirmed that SMI financed their operations in the area affected by the project, unsurprisingly rebranded as KITACO growth Area. The salaries of the private intelligence forces, as well as many of the police forces composing the KITACO Special Forces, for instance, come from the vaults of SMI/Glencore-Xstrata. This militarization of the area not only obstructed the legitimate contestation to the project, but also hampered any possibility of implementing pertinent local regulation prohibiting open-air mining. In 2012 the Department for Internal Affairs and the Justice Department issued an order to the local government of the affected area to revoke this same legislation. This is arguably a violation of the Constitution and the Local Government Code, which since 1991 have delegated power of self-government to the local authorities. This also adds to the incapacity of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples to defend the rights of the Bla’an people, who declared its strong resistance to the Tampakan project. The Commission indeed failed to voice this opposition, and to take any action even after the murders and violence that the Bla’an people suffered.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Glencore Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, Philippines
State or province:South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur
Location of conflict:Municipality of Tampakan, South Cotabato Municipality of Malungon, Sarangani Municipality of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat Municipality of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Copper
Other aggregate metals in the copper and gold ores.
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The proposed mine structure will significantly affect the whole ecosystem of the four provinces especially the supply of water. The Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) shall cut-off the 14-km range including the head water of the Mal-Padada river system. The Fresh Water Dam (FWD) will contain at least 215-million liters of water, cutting the source of the Mal-Padada river system and will directly affect the supply of water to the Manteo-Buayan river system. The Waste Rock Storage Facility (WRSF) that will raise approximately 300 to 400 meters high will be silting the Dalul-Alip river system and will cover the rice fields of Colombio municipality of the hundreds of thousands of silted soil from the Tampakan Mines.

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Project area:10,000
Level of Investment:5,200,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,000 directly-impacted people will be displaced; 150,000 farmers whose livelihoods will be at stake; and downstream communities whose water sources will be affected.
Start of the conflict:1995
Company names or state enterprises:Glencore Public Limited Company from Switzerland
Glencore-Xstrata from Switzerland
Alsons Group of Companies
Relevant government actors:Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau,
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,
Department of Agriculture,
Armed Forces of the Philippines—Philippine Army
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tampakan Forum, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Popular Peoples Tribunal, Catholic Church (local bishop), Armed rebel groups, Tribal groups (Blaan), Social Action Center of Marbel <>, Alyansa Tigil Mina <>, Philippine Misereor Partnerships Inc <>, Legal Rights Center , Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, Lilak-Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights , Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates <>
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Bla’an community
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Boycotts of companies-products
Presentation to the case to the Permanent Peoples Tribunal
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Fostering a culture of peace
Development of alternatives:Alyansa Tigil Mina and supporting groups proposes that the company pull out from Tampakan. The government should support the revitalization of agriculture industry in the province.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Not yet. It is successful only when the mining activities fully stop and when the mining project is closed.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, RA 8371
[click to view]

Mining Act of 1995, RA 7942
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Mining vs Food: Tampakan Case Study
[click to view]

Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project
[click to view]

Mining in Tampakan: Intensifying Conflict, Danger in Perpetuity
[click to view]

Tampakan Fact Finding Mission Report, April 2012

Blaan leaders to NCIP “No to Tampakan mining, we want non-FPIC Coverage”
[click to view]

Tampakan: how to lose money and terrify people
[click to view]

Bishops appeal to stop Tampakan mining project
[click to view]

Tampakan Forum PR: Groups blame mining companies for killings, HRVs in Tampakan: “Their blood is in your hands!”
[click to view]

Mining in Tampakan: Risks and Alternatives
[click to view]

Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power
[click to view]

Testimony of the case in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing - Corporate Human Rights Violations and Peoples Access to Justice. Geneva, 23 June 2014
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Peoples' Advocacy vis-a-vis Extractive Industries
[click to view]

Action Alert: Soldiers massacre family of anti-mining human rights defender in Tampakan, Southern Philippines (Juvy Capion)
[click to view]

Killer Dam: Xstrata Tampakan
[click to view]

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Meta information
Contributor:Alyansa Tigil Mina
Last update18/08/2019
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