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


Description:

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].

Assessment missions by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)’s Environment Management Bureau (EMB) conducted during that time, stated that SRMI did not violate any law. However, the local assessment team was alleged to have accepted bribery.

In August 2010, more than 3,000 residents signed a 117-page petition demanding the stop of SRMI’s activities, stating environmental, livelihood and health impacts and failure of adequate relocation of 115 families, displaced by SRMI’s activities [3].

Local consultations and public hearings were conducted by the environment committee of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), which validated the complaints filed by villagers of Barangay (village) la Fraternidad. Consequently, in November, 2010, the provincial board of Agusan del Norte endorsed the petition that urged president Aquino III to stop SRMI’s mining operations. The local government further passed resolutions to oppose SRMI’s mining operations, asking for the cancellation of the MPSA due to SRMI’s alleged failure to pay local taxes amounting to 100 million PHP (more than 2 million USD) [3].

Calls to stop the mine further increased when major floods hit 13 Barangays in Tubay municipality on February 3, 2011, caused by large rains and a breakdown of one of the siltation ponds of SRMI's open pit nickel mine. Two residents were drowned during the floods. While local government officials alleged SRMI to have a major responsibility in causing the floods, SRMI denied their stake in the disaster [2].

In response to the growing conflict and the many petitions of villagers and local officers, the MGB conducted a three month investigative mission, whose results were presented in February 2012 [4]. The investigation team, consisting of several governmental units as well as university institutes, found SRMI guilty in six major issues concerning negative impacts on environment and communities. The named issues were hazardous mining methods; inadequate rehabilitation; lack of proper drainage system; failure to properly relocate displaced families; usage of a public road as a private road, denying access to locals; and lack of water treatment. While the MGB ordered periods of 30 to 60 days to resolve the different issues, environmental and rights group, such as ATM, urged to completely cancel SRMI's MPSA [4].

Almost in parallel, on February 28, 2012 military forces started bombing and combat operations in areas of the communities affected by SRMI mining and other mining companies, and around 60 families had to evacuate the area. Mining companies such as SRMI were previously allowed to employ the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other military groups as private security forces. While the military stated that attacks were against rebels, indigenous group KASALO stated that “in fact our indigenous people brothers and sisters [are those] that are being driven away for the entry of large-scale mining in our lands.” [5] The Philippines have a long-standing history of mining and militarization associated with human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

Two months later, a representative of the multi-partite monitoring team (MMT) led by the MGB, assessing SRMI’s situation in their quarter-yearly inspection, stated that “In my three-day stay here and as I go along with the team there was no [environmental] violation” [6]. Currently, to the author's knowledge, SRMI’s mining operations go on, in spite of large local opposition. Social tensions due to militarization have increased, while communities face health and livelihood consequences of environmental destruction in Tubay.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:San Roque Metals Inc. Nickel mining in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, Philippines
Country:Philippines
State or province:Agusan del Norte province
(municipality or city/town)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 :Land acquisition conflicts
Tailings from mines
Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Nickel, cobalt
Iron ore
Rare metals

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].

As of November 2014, SR Metals Inc. (SRMI) holds two Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in Tubay, Agusan del Norte. One is MPSA nr. 261-2008-XIII, covering an area of 572.6400ha, for the exploration of Nickel, cobalt, iron and other associated mineral deposits. The MPSA was granted on March 10, 2008 and expires on March 10, 2033. The second one is MPSA nr. 305-2009-XIII, covering and area of 506.4100ha, for the exploration of nickel and other deposits, granted on December 23, 2009, with date of expiry December 23, 2034 [1]. Total area of MPSA held in Tubay amount thus to 1079.05ha.

Nickel deposits of at least 30 million tons of validated ore were stated for one of the MPSA [3].

In 2010, MGB reported that SRMI had earned 2.9 billion PHP (over 60 million USD) during October 2008 – December 2009 [3].

In 2010, the company reported that SRMI’s mining equipment is able to move 100,000 tons of ore per day [3], which is beyond the legal limit for small-scale miners.

Philippine SRMI was largely owned by Caloocan Vice Mayor Edgar Erice and Miguel Alberto Gutierrez. Both are closely connected to President Aquino's party.

SRMI signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the local indigenous tribes, represented by the Accredited Tribal Sectoral Leaders of Indigenous Cultural Communities of Tubay [3].

According to the 2010 population census, Tubay municipality has a population of 20,426 persons. Most directly affected are villagers from Barangay Fraternidad, with a population of 1,933 persons. Over 3000 people signed the petition against SRMI. The whole municipality and beyond carries negative impacts due to increased social tensions.

No information on investment size could be found so far; neither on financial institutions.

Project area:1079.05
Level of Investment:unknown
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 and 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
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
indigenous Manobo, Mamanwa tribes
translation missing: en.m.mobilizing_groups.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

Impacts of the project

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

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Migration/displacement
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
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 and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
http://www.psdn.org.ph/chmbio/ra7942.html

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)
http://www.gov.ph/1997/10/29/republic-act-no-8371/

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7076 AN ACT CREATING A PEOPLE"S SMALL-SCALE MINING PROGRAM AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
http://www.denr.gov.ph/policy/basicpol/mincode/ra7076.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Minda News online (10/02/2011): "Tubay mayor says floods aggravated by overflow of mining firm’s settling pond" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/02/10/tubay-mayor-says-floods-aggravated-by-overflow-of-mining-firm%E2%80%99s-settling-pond/

[3] GMA News online (05/12/2010): "Agusan Norte officials, town folk urge nickel miner to go" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/207565/news/regions/agusan-norte-officials-town-folk-urge-nickel-miner-to-go

[4] Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Press Release: "Mining firm in Agusan: unsystematic, inadequate – says MGB probe" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://alyansatigilmina.net/2012/06/22/mining-firm-in-agusan-unsystematic-inadequate-says-mgb-probe/

[5] PIPLINKS online (25/04/2012): "Indigenous peoples and environmental activists protest military bombing in Mindanao" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://www.piplinks.org/indigenous-peoples-and-environmental-activists-protest-military-bombing-mindanao

[6] MGB communciation (20/04/2012): "Monitoring team: Mining has no major violation" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://www.mgbr13.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141:monitoring-team-mining-has-no-major-violation-&catid=11:external-affairs&Itemid=52

[7] Inside Mindanao (21/03/2008): "Mining guards demolish 50 houses of Mamanwa tribe" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://www.insidemindanao.com/article44.html

[8] InterAksyon online (03/12/2014): "SC upholds ruling that Erice-linked mining firm is liable for violating ECC" (accessed 04/05/2015)
http://www.interaksyon.com/article/100428/sc-upholds-ruling-mining-firm-linked-to-lp-stalwart-liable-for-violating-ecc

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Short video produced by affected locals
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6-zyHoQGs0

SRMI corporate video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJHip-XIKtY

Video on the environmental conflict (in Tagalog)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWlMfyrJ-fk

Other documents

Mining site Source: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/37654378
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/37654378.jpg

[1] MGB List of MPSA as of November, 2014
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/MGP_2014_Nov_Complete_List_of____MPSA_2A.pdf

Access point to the mining site Source: http://www.mgbr13.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141:monitoring-team-mining-has-no-major-violation-&catid=11:external-affairs&Itemid=52
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/f____tubay_mmt.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim"dot" scheidel" at" gmail "dot" com
Last update06/05/2015

Images

 

Mining site

Source: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/37654378

Access point to the mining site

Source: http://www.mgbr13.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141:monitoring-team-mining-has-no-major-violation-&catid=11:external-affairs&Itemid=52