Sta. Cruz is a 1st class municipality with rich arable land that is condusive for farming. The whole province of Zambales owes its title as “home of the best carabao mango of the world” to its rich land.
Yet this fertile land and its river channels and coastal waters of this town are being highly polluted with nickel laterite, a nickel oxide ore that turns the colors the sea into red, due to polluting practices of several mining companies operating there.
To date, because of the nickel mining: Sta. Cruz, Zambales is losing 8,000 tons of palay (rice paddy) production annually worth Php 200-million (US$5M). It has also suffered an estimated loss of Php 20-million (US$ 0.5M) from fish production in three major rivers and at least Php 30-million (or US$0.75M) (each hectare earning a net of Php 300,000.00 annually) loss from fish production in at least 100-hectares of fishpond.
As an effect of the nickel laterite reaching offshore, there was also a decline in deep sea fish catches. There is also a radical reduction in the production of the best and sweetest carabao mango. Thus, because of mining, Sta. Cruz is losing half a billion pesos (US$12M) worth of food, rice, mango and fish production.
The government, through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, temporarily suspended the operations of the firms, due to what it termed ‘unsystematic methods´. According to the MGB director, the operations of these mining firms led to the “inefficient recovery of minerals and adverse environmental impacts like siltation and dust generation.”
The four mining firms were told to remove all stockpiles in open cut areas and move them to stockpile areas with proper drainage systems, but the companies still continue to haul nickel stock piles for export.
Four large-scale mining companies (extracting nickel) are blamed for the irreversible environmental degradation and destruction in the town of Sta. Cruz, namely: Zambales Diversified Metals Corp.
Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc.
Eramen Minerals Inc.
LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc The nickel mining operations result in water pollution due to nickel laterite. This has seeped in the irrigated water sources and reached 30-nautical miles offshore, affecting both agriculture and fishery sectors.
June last year, the companies were suspended because of the impacts and problems caused by their operations. Last February, the government lifted their suspension and so the company resumed their operations.
|Name of conflict:||Santa Cruz, Zambales nickel mining impacts sustainable agriculture and fisheries, Philippines|
|State or province:||Zambales|
|Location of conflict:||Santa Cruz|
|Accuracy of location||HIGH (Local level)|
|Type of conflict. 1st level:||Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction|
|Type of conflict. 2nd level:||Mining exploration and/or ore extraction|
Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. - 3,765.3853-ha. mine permit for chromite and nickel
Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. - 1,406.7362-ha. mine permit for chromite and nickel
Eramen Minerals Inc. - 4,619.6869-ha. mine permit-ha. mine permit for chromite and nickel
LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc -
|Type of population||Semi-urban|
|Start of the conflict:||01/01/2011|
|Company names or state enterprises:||Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. from Philippines|
Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. from Philippines
Eramen Minerals Inc. from Philippines
LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc (LAMI) from China
|Relevant government actors:||Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau|
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
Department of Agriculture
|Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:||Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz Zambales (CCOS) |
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc
Alyansa Tigil Mina
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers)
|Intensity||HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)|
|Reaction stage||In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)|
|Forms of mobilization:||Creation of alternative reports/knowledge|
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Referendum other local consultations
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
|Environmental Impacts||Visible: 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, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity|
Potential: Fires, Genetic contamination
|Health Impacts||Visible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts|
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
|Socio-economical Impacts||Visible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place|
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts
|Project Status||In operation|
|Conflict outcome / response:||Application of existing regulations|
Project temporarily suspended
But suspension has been lifted in April 2015
|Proposal and development of alternatives:||The government should use and maximize the land for agricultural use.|
|Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:||Not Sure|
|Briefly explain:||The suspension was a short victory. What we demand is full rehabilitation and mine decommission and the pull out of mining activities there.|
|Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)|
|Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network|
|Contributor:||Alyansa Tigil Mina|