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Taganito Mining Corporation’s Nickel Operations, Surigao del Norte,Philippines

Militarization, environmental destruction of indigenous lands and unpaid royalties: the ingredients of Taganito Mining Corporation’s corporate success


The conflict over Taganito Mining Corporation’s (TMC) open pit nickel mine, located in Claver municipality, Surigao del Norte, is a complex case of desperate resistance, led by indigenous and locals, against corporate interests that have caused large environmental destruction, the division of tribes over unpaid royalties, loss of culture and threats to lives and livelihoods. TMC, being one of the largest nickel producers in the region, has operated mines in the ancestral domains of the Mamanwa tribe since the 1960s. While environmental destruction due to mining operations has been ongoing hence for decades, conflicts intensified over unpaid royalties from a Mining Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for nickel ore exploration in Taganito, granted in 2008. According to the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, indigenous communities are entitled to at least 1% of gross production for mining operations on their ancestral lands [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Taganito Mining Corporation’s Nickel Operations, Surigao del Norte,Philippines
State or province:Surigao del Norte province
Location of conflict:Barangay Taganito, Claver 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
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Rare metals
Nickel and other associated minerals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Taganito Mining Corporation holds a Mining Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) Nr. 266-2008-XIII in Claver municipality, Surigao del Norte. The MPSA covers an area of 4,584.5145 ha of nickel and other associated mineral deposits. The MPSA was granted on July 28, 2008 [9].

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Project area:4,584.5145
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,700,000,000 (Nickel processing plant)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:23,702 (population of Claver municipality)
Start of the conflict:28/07/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) (TMC) from Philippines - mining
Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) from Philippines - mining
Pacific Metals Co. Ltd from Japan - mining and metal industry
Sojitz Corporation from Japan - investment
Sumitomo Metal Mining Corporation (SMMC) from Japan - mining and metals industry
Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) from Philippines - metal processing
PCD Nominee Corporation from Philippines
Mantra Resource Corporation from Philippines - investment
Nihao Mineral Resources International, Inc. (NI) from Philippines - mining
Relevant government actors:Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)
National Council for Indigenous People (NCIP)
International and Finance InstitutionsJapan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC) from Japan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Taganito Mamanwa Association; Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Ampantrimtu); Tribal Commission of Mindanao (TRICOM); Social Action Center in the Diocese of Tandag; SPECIAL COMMITTEE of the KORONADAL IP WOMEN GATHERING; 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
Mamanwa tribe, Manobo tribe
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Four company guards were killed, others taken hostage and equipment was torched
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), 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, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: 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
Other Health impactsExposure to toxic heavy metals in water and soil
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Other socio-economic impactsunpaid royalties to the indigenous tribes; division between tribes over royalty claims
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Regarding "Other": Four guards of the mine were killed during an attack by the New People's Army (NPA)
Regarding "New Environmental Study": this refers to the assessment study done by the Mineral and Geosciences Bureau
Proposal and development of alternatives:Local organizations claim that royalties are fully paid for the operating period, and moreover, demand an immediate stop for further mining activities by Taganito mining corporation.
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)

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

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

[1] PIPLINKS online (04/02/2009): "400 Mamanwa communities installed human barricade to demand royalty fees promised" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[2] PIPLINKS online (17/03/2009): "Mamanwas lift barricade at Taganito mines; tribe to meet March 12 to settle internal conflict" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[3] PIPLINKS online (15/09/2011) : "Two NCIP officials in Caraga Region suspended without pay for one year" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[4] PIPLINKS online (30/07/2010): "Tribesmen burn mine equipment in Surigao Norte" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[5] ABS-CBN News online (30/05/2011): "Surigao tribesmen seek writ of kalikasan" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[6] PIPLINKS online (03/10/2011): "Leftist Rebels Attack Mining Firms In Southern Philippines" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[7] PIPLINKS online (12/10/2011): "Mining mercenaries proposal by AFP opposed by environmental activists" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[8] PIPLINKS online (23/07/2012): "Gov’t suspends miner’s operations in Surigao" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[10] Philippine Population Census 2010 (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[11] Nickel Asia Corporation website (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[12] Minda News online (03/10/2011): "NPA rebels attack 3 mining firms in Surigao Norte" (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

TMC's corporate video on the mining site
[click to view]

NPA video showing their attack on TMC
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim "dot" scheidel "at" gmail "dot" com
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1952
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