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


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].

In this context, on January 29, 2009, a group of indigenous Mamanwa from the Taganito Mamanwa Association set up a human barricade at the highway along Taganito, Claver, to demand the royalties which they were claiming since 2008 [1].

Following the barricades, TMC paid the royalties amounting to P51.5 million PHP, however only for 2006 and 2007. Furthermore, following a resolution of the National Council of Indigenous People (NCIP), TMC paid them to another tribe association, which had signed the Memorandum of Agreement with the company (MOA). This has caused division and conflicts between the different indigenous groups. It took over a month (March 04, 2009) to lift the barricades in order to enter in conflict settlement agreements between the two tribes and the company [2].

Meanwhile, the money was frozen by NCIP in a bank account. The Mamanwas filed a case against some NCIP officers for abuse of authority, and consequently, the officers were later (in 2011) suspended [3].

In 2010, TMC continued to owe royalties, for which reason around 30 members of the Mamanwa tribes stormed TMC’s mining site and torched mining equipment, including a bulldozer [4]. In addition to unpaid royalties, TMC and five other mining companies active in the area were accused of heavy environmental contamination, siltation of rivers and marine ecosystems, as well as the destruction of sacred places of the indigenous [4;5]. Residents reported to suffer from serious health problems and crucial livelihood resources, i.e. fish stocks, were heavy polluted [5]. Evidence of pollution was supported by an analysis of the Natural Sciences Research Institute (UP-NSRI) of the University of the Philippines, showing extremely high levels of nickel in water and soil. Therefore, in May 2011, the tribal commission of Mindanao (TRICOM) and several other communities filed a petition for writ before the Supreme Court demanding an immediate stop of the active companies, among them TMC [5].

The conflict drastically intensified on October 3, 2011, when 200 armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked TMC and the Taganito HPAL processing plant in Claver town to punish and block their destructive activities, killing four guards, torching the mining equipment and taking hostage of several mining officials [6;12] (see also video). In parallel, another nearby mining company, Platinum Metals Group Corporation, was attacked the same day by NPA members [6]. Subsequently, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the mining companies entered into agreements of training and employing special militia, funded by the mining companies. The proposal however was strongly rejected by environmental groups, as there is a longstanding record of human rights violations related to increased militarization and private military forces in mining areas [7].

In 2012, following the demands for investigation of environmental issues, an assessment team led by the Mineral and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) visited the area. Despite documented evidence of environmental problems, TMC and other active companies, except Shenzhou Corporation (see related conflicts), were allowed to continue mining, as they presented plans of how to handle the environmental problems [8].

As of early 2015, heavy environmental degradation of Claver municipality through nickel companies such as Taganito Mining Corporation goes on, while conflicts and social tensions surrounding the mining operations continue. However, the government seems to evaluate only tax benefits (on February 18, 2015, TMC received by the government a tax payer award), but not the devastating social and environmental costs, which are carried by local people and the environment.

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
Land acquisition conflicts
Tailings from mines
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].

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:4,584.5145
Level of Investment:1,700,000,000 (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:Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Local ejos
Fisher people
Local government/political parties
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
Mamanwa tribe, Manobo tribe
Forms of mobilization:Development 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
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
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

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Philippine Mining Act of 1995

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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

[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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

TMC's corporate video on the mining site

NPA video showing their attack on TMC

Other documents

[9] MGB List of MPSAs as of November 2014

Taganito mining complex after the attacks by the NPA Source:

burning trucks at TMC Source:

Meta information

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



Taganito mining complex after the attacks by the NPA


burning trucks at TMC