Mamanwa tribes protest the exploration of MRL mining company

Nokie Calunsag, Green Mindanao Association Inc., BIC Newsletter
Date of publication: 
1 December, 2010

AGUSAN DEL NORTE, PHILSIFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today agreed to invest about 2.1 million Canadian dollars in Mindoro Resources Ltd to support a nickel exploration project in the Philippines.
Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL), a Canada-based mining exploration company, will use IFC’s investment for exploration at the Agata nickel project in the Surigao district on Mindanao Island. IFC claimed that it will work with the company to ensure that exploration and any subsequent mine development is carried out in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The IFC should now prove to be true to this claim since leaders of the Mamanwa tribes wrote a complain letter regarding the exploration of MRL mining company in their ancestral land without proper consultation.

Tribal community chieftain Bae Genoviva A. Colangan together with her community members executed a letter last November 8, 2010 outlining the following concerns: – Dili namo gusto na mosulod ang MRL kay dili namo gusto maguba ang among kabukiran
(We don’t want the MRL mining company to operate our ancestral land because we don’t want our forests to be destroyed). – Kanang gitukoran sa kampo, dili namo epatandog kay bala-an kanang dapita, kay amo nang alampua-nan sa among kamalasan
(We don’t want to our area to be mined because it will be in our one of our sacred places, which has been very important for us and our culture since time immemorial). – Nganong misulod sila na walay pagpahibalo o pagpananghid sa among mga lumad
(They entered into our ancestral land without proper information and consent from us).

In the document received, around 32 traditional elders and leaders of Mamanwa tribe signed the grievance letter which was strongly opposing the MRL mining company to operate their ancestral land.

The MRL project costs C$15 million, with US$2.1 M equity from IFC’s own account. The equity investment of IFC aims to support Mindoro’s resource drilling, feasibility and other studies, and exploration activities for its nickel, copper and gold prospects. In particular, the company’s main exploration tenement, Agata, is located in Agusan del Norte, 40 km south of Surigao City in the north western portion of Mindanao Island.

MRL’s Agata North Laterite Project covers Lawigan and Tinigbasan (in Tubay), E Morgado (formerly known as Agata) and La Paz (in Santiago) and Colorado (in Jabonga). The MPSA contract area is held by Minimax Mineral Corporation (MPSA 134-99-XIII) approved in May 26, 1999. This covers Jabonga, Santiago, and Tubay. This is for copper and gold, covering 7,679 hectares originally, but was later reduced to 4,995has (as of May 2000).