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
NameTaganito Mining Corporation’s Nickel Operations, Surigao del Norte,Philippines
ProvinceSurigao del Norte province
SiteBarangay 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)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Specific CommoditiesNickel and other associated minerals
Rare metals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsTaganito 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].

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to operate within the ancestral domains of the Mamanwas was signed by TMC with the indigenous Ampantrimtu association in 2006 [1]. According to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, indigenous are entitled to a 1% share of gross production/output, if they agree that the mining company operates on their ancestral lands.

The Certified Ancestral Lands (CADT) of the Mamanwa tribe comprises 48,678 ha of Claver municipality, in which 5,000 Mamanwas live [1]. The total population of Claver municipality is 23,702 persons [10].

TMC together with Japanese Mitsui & Co. Ltd, Japanese Sumitomo Metal Mining Corporation (SMM) and its Philippine subsidiary Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation further constructed a 30,000 tons-a-year smelting plant in Taganito, starting its operation by 2013. The plant is using a High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) technology. The smelting plant, operated by Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation, was reported to be a 1.7 billion dollar project [11].

Loans for the smelting plant were partly provided by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. No information could be found so far on the other banks that provided loans for TMC's operations.

For the year 2013, the company reported to have sold 874 thousand wet metric tons (WMT) of low-grade limonite ore to the newly commissioned processing plant under Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp [11].

TMC is 65% owned by Nickel Asia Corporation; 33.5% owned by Pacific Metals Corporation; and 1.5% owned by Sojitz Corporation [12]. Shares of Nickel Asia Corporation are further owned through the PCD Nominee Corporation, the Mantra Resources Corporation and the Ni Capital Corporation [11].
Project Area (in hectares)4,584.5145
Level of Investment (in USD)1,700,000,000 (Nickel processing plant)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population23,702 (population of Claver municipality)
Start Date28/07/2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesTaganito 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 actorsDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)

National Council for Indigenous People (NCIP)
International and Financial InstitutionsJapan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC) from Japan
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTaganito 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.
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
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 MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Official complaint letters and petitions
Threats to use arms
Public campaigns
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
OtherExposure to toxic heavy metals in water and soil
Socio-economic 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
Otherunpaid royalties to the indigenous tribes; division between tribes over royalty claims
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
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
Development of AlternativesLocal 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project goes on.
Sources and Materials

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]

Media Links

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

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

Other Documents

[9] MGB List of MPSAs as of November 2014
[click to view]

Taganito mining complex after the attacks by the NPA Source: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/15311/revolutionary-tax-no-excuse-for-harming-environment-indigenous-peoples
[click to view]

burning trucks at TMC Source: https://boycuaycs.wordpress.com/tag/nickel-mining-plant/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim "dot" scheidel "at" gmail "dot" com
Last update06/05/2015