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San Roque Metals Inc. Nickel mining in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, Philippines

Environmental destruction, militarization and arbitrary bombings: the ‘new’ modus operandi of how some mining companies establish large-scale operations in the Philippines.


San Roque Metals Incorporation (SRMI) started mining operations in Tubay in 2006, initially as a small-scale venture, but was awarded in 2008 and 2009 two Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) [1;2]. Since the beginning of their operations, villagers as well as local governmental officers have complained about environmental destruction, negatively affected livelihood resources (i.e., fishing and farming), as well as health impacts, such as through increasing respiratory diseases through mining dust. SRMI was accused of violently forced evictions [7] and has several court cases pending since 2007, such as surpassing its small-scale mining limit and a filed case for plunder and theft [7;8]. Moreover, the tribal group who signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) complained that royalties, to which they are entitled because SRMI operates on their ancestral lands, remained unpaid [3].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:San Roque Metals Inc. Nickel mining in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, Philippines
State or province:Agusan del Norte province
Location of conflict:Tubay municipality, Barangay Fraternidad
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Rare metals
Iron ore
Nickel, cobalt
Project Details and Actors
Project details

San Roque Metals Incorporation (SRMI) started mining operations in Tubay since 2006, initially as a small-scale venture [2]. On September 24, 2007, SRMI was shut down because “the company has exceeded its allowable annual production of 50,000 metric tons other than holding a small–scale mining permit R.A. 7076 (Small–scale Mining Act)” [g].

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Project area:1079.05
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:more than 20,000
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:SR Metals Incorporation (SRMI) from Philippines - mining
Relevant government actors:Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its attached agencies — the Environment Management Bureau (EMB), Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB); Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Bureau of Soil.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Sangguniang Bayan of Tubay; Accredited Tribal Sectoral Leaders of Indigenous Cultural Communities of Tubay; Hinaki Tribal Association in Sitio Hinaki; Municipal tribal council of Tubay; National Solidarity Mission led by Task Force Surigao; Support Group Higala sa Bakwit; Roman Catholic Parish Church of Tubay; Kahugpong sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO); Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM); Kalikasan PNE, and others.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
indigenous Manobo, Mamanwa tribes
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
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, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths
Other Health impactsExposure to toxic contamination of water and soil
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: 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, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement
Potential: Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Villagers and local government officers are fighting to completely stop SRMI's operation. In addition they claim unpaid taxes and royalties.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project goes on
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

[click to view]

[2] Minda News online (10/02/2011): "Tubay mayor says floods aggravated by overflow of mining firm’s settling pond" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[3] GMA News online (05/12/2010): "Agusan Norte officials, town folk urge nickel miner to go" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[4] Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Press Release: "Mining firm in Agusan: unsystematic, inadequate – says MGB probe" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[5] PIPLINKS online (25/04/2012): "Indigenous peoples and environmental activists protest military bombing in Mindanao" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[6] MGB communciation (20/04/2012): "Monitoring team: Mining has no major violation" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Inside Mindanao (21/03/2008): "Mining guards demolish 50 houses of Mamanwa tribe" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[8] InterAksyon online (03/12/2014): "SC upholds ruling that Erice-linked mining firm is liable for violating ECC" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

SRMI corporate video
[click to view]

Short video produced by affected locals
[click to view]

Video on the environmental conflict (in Tagalog)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim"dot" scheidel" at" gmail "dot" com
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1957
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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