eastwind journals 29 – MINERS, DENR-MGB IGNORE DA-NIA

eastwind journals 29
eastwind journals are the personal journalistic writings of Bernie Lopez, and are not part of the healing ministry. Any views or comments are his own and does not reflect those of the ministry.
Mining must not endanger our food security
During a dialogue with Clive Wicks, an international environment consultant from the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, the DA Secretary noted how he was not being consulted by the mining community, nor by the DENR-MGB on activities which adversely affect agriculture and fisheries.


Wicks reported that the DA is a legitimate stakeholder, and mining firms are silent about this issue. This is tantamount to ignoring the potential damage of mining firms on water catchment areas, irrigation systems, and coastal marine areas, which are the mandate of the DA to protect.


As a case in point, Wicks cites the largest 10,000-hectare mining area nationwide in Tampakan, South Cotabato of the Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI), an affiliate of the giant multinational Xstrata (British and Swiss equity), where a 1.35 billion metric-ton tailings dam will be built by Xstrata underneath a major earthquake fault, sitting on top of a mountain below thousands of hectares of farmlands in Davao del Sur and South Cotabato. This area is the bread basket of Central Mindanao that not only gives critical food security to the entire Mindanao area, but also exports to Metro-Manila and Luzon. Mindanao gives food security to the entire nation.


Philsage Mining Corp. in Agusan del Sur, affiliate of Australian multinational Medusa Mining, reported that an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 off Negros island resulted in the shut-down of four large mill tanks, which began to tilt (Inquirer March 21 2012). Amazingly, the epicenter is quite far, but the fault lines to Mindanao are the culprits. Even a minor distant quake can bring down the Tampakan mega-tailings dam which is underneath a major earthquake fault. This would render vast agricultural areas ten times the affected areas of the infamous Placer Dome dam collapse in Marinduque.


How a threat on a massive scale on agriculture is being ignored by the government in search of more revenues in partnership with large multinationals is a disturbing reality today. The government must give priority to the people it serves, not to the revenues it can earn. The government-multinational partnership is detrimental to the Filipino people.


It must be noted that multinationals like Xstrata are backed up by the Swiss and British embassies here in behalf of their citizens who are stockholders of Xstrata. These citizens are not informed that their money is being used to extract precious gold and copper for the world markets to bring huge profits, but at the expense of the food security of Third World countries. This malpractice must be part of the agenda of bilateral agreements among rich and poor nations. Self-enrichment for the already-rich must not impoverish the already-poor.


Bernie Lopez
March 24, 2012
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