Mining in Bakun and Royalco's withdrawal, Philippines

While Royalco provoked community division to achieve a manipulated free prior informed consent to their mining explorations, villagers successfully united to resist, until the company withdrew the project.


Bakun municipality has been targeted by several mining companies since the 1960s (see project details). In 2007, Royalco Philippines Inc., subsidiary of Australian miner Royalco Resources Ltd. started explorations in the area. However, the indigenous Kankanaey villagers, whose livelihoods depend on their ancestral lands, threatened by mining, have never provided valid Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) to the company operating on their certified ancestral lands [1].

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Basic Data
NameMining in Bakun and Royalco's withdrawal, Philippines
SiteBarangay Gambang, Bakun municipality
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 CommoditiesLand
Rare metals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsReports state that Royalco aimed for a 5,400ha Exploration Permit (No. CAR-0001), for which they required Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) [1;11]. The exploration is divided into 5 phases, of which the first (I and II) have already begun [3].

Exploration Phase I corresponds to the Exploration Permit EP No. 005A-2008-CAR, first granted on May 21, 2008, and renewed on June 22, 2010, covering 986ha in Bakun, Benguet area, for the exploration of Gold and Copper reserves [11;12]. Exploration Phase III is covered by Exploration Permit 005B-CAR, with a total area of 1,442ha [11].

Royalco Philippines Inc. is a 100% subsidiary of Australian Royalco Resources Limited [14]. Prior to Royalco, other companies tried to set up mining operations in Bakun municipality. During the 1960’s, BOMA Mining Exploration was active in the region, and changed afterwards name to Trans Asia, and finally Dalton Pacific Resources in 2001. In 2006, Oxiana Philippines, which was subsidiary of Australian Oxiana Limited, became tenement holder. In 2007, Royalco started explorations [1].

According to reports from 2008, main stakeholders in Royalco’s operations included Oxiana, Anglo Pacific and Riomin Gold [1]. In 2010, Royalco started to agreements with Brazilian mining firm Vale SA for copper exploration in Bakun [13,16].

In its 2014 annual report, Royalco’s Bankers are reported to be the ANZ Banking group, as well as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia [14].

According to the population census of 2010, 13,587 people live in Bakun municipality [15].
Project Area (in hectares)5,400
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10,000-20,000
Start Date2007
End Date16/06/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesRoyalco Philippines Inc. from Philippines - mining
Royalco Resources Limited from Australia - mining
BOMA mining exloration Company from Philippines - mining
TransAsia Minerals from Indonesia - mining
Dalton Pacific Resources from Philippines - mining
Oxiana Philippines Inc. from Philippines - mining
Oxiana Limited from Australia - mining
Anglo Pacific Group from United Kingdom - mining
Riomin Gold - mining
Relevant government actorsNational Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Local Governmental Units (LGU)
International and Financial InstitutionsANZ Bank group Australia (ANZ) from Australia
Commonwealth Bank of Australia from Australia - banking, finance, investment
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBAKUN AYWANAN (Defend and Nurture Bakun); Gambang Indigenous Peoples and Community Organization (Gipaco); KIRED (Kasibu Intertribal Response for Ecological Development); AUBD (Alliance of Upland Baranggay for Sustainable Development); ALMUSEGAM (Alliance of Multisectoral Groups Against Mining); Benguet Mining Alert and Action Network (BMAAN); Cordillera Peoples Alliance Urgent Action; Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK); Benguet-Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur (BAMPIS) Mining; Kalikasan-PNE; Alyansa Tigil Mina
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingEthnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Local ejos
Fisher people
Local government/political parties
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
Indigenous Kankanaey
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
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
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation
Continuous blockades and guarding of village entry points to avoid that mining equipment would be brought into the area
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, 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, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Potential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherTactic division of indigenous community
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of AlternativesThe aim of BAKUN AYWANAN (Defend and Nurture Bakun) was to stop Royalco's operations in Bakun, which was achieved when in 2014 the company announced to withdraw exploration activities.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.After years of protests, the mining company pulled out and stopped explorations
Sources and Materials

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)
[click to view]


[2] PIPLINKS online (23/11/2008): "Bakun folk stop mine accord" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[5] PIPLINKS online (02/10/2010): "House to probe Royalco" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[6] PIPLINKS online (28/02/2011): "Congress Validates Flaws in Securing Consent for Mining in Benguet" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[7] PIPLINKS online (13/02/2011): "NCIP recalls Royalco certificate" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[8] PIPLINKS online (01712/2011): "Mine-affected communities mine their experiences at opposing large-scale mining" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[9] PIPLINKS online (26/06/2011): "NCIP says Bakun mining controversy a closed case" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[1] PIPLINKS online (12/12/2008): "Australian Mining Company Royalco Violates Indigenous Community’s Collective Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[4] online (20/06/2013): "People’s barricade to defy Royalco mining’s TRO, government soldiers" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[10] Mines and Geosciences Bureau, 2014, "Royalco relinquishes to gov't 986 has. exploration area" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[13] PIPLINKS online (01/07/2010): "People of Bakun call for the protection of ancestral domains" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[14] Royalco Annual Report 2013-2014. "Exploring Opportunities Globally" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[15] Philippine Population Census 2010 (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[11] PIPLINKS online (11/09/2010): "Bakun officials request dialogue with NCIP" (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

[3] PIPLINKS online (21/09/2009): "Protests vs Royalco continue" (accessed on 12/02/2019)
[click to view]

[16] Northern Dispatch Weekly online (02.01.2011): "Vale SA acquires Royalco Bakun mining exploration" (accessed on 12/02/2019).
[click to view]

Other Documents

[12] Mines and Geosciences Bureau, 2014, list of exploration permits. (accessed on 08/06/2015)
[click to view]

Area covered by Royalco's exploration permit source:,
[click to view]

Villagers oppose the mining explorations Source:
[click to view]

Protest marches Source:
[click to view]

Signs Source:
[click to view]

Anti-mining gatherings Source:
[click to view]

Benguet Declaration of Unity Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update11/03/2019