June 2012


eastwind journals26 Jun 2012 11:38 pm

eastwind journals 39 – MINING MONEY MYTHS xstrata-smi

eastwind journals 39
 
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.

 

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XSTRATA’S MINING MONEY MYTHS
 
Large Scale Mining firms are fond of extolling the economic benefits of mining to justify their projects which are the subject of protests from all sectors of society. Their purpose is to make people blind to the social and environmental damage and drool over the economic benefits. But most often, these benefits are myths, bloated out of proportion to impress. Let us give an example.

 

They claim the Philippines has about $150 trillion dollars worth of un-mined minerals, dollars mind you, which, if translated, is about Php6 quadrillion. First, this is a very arbitrary figure. But let us just suppose, for the sake of argument, that this is a good reflection of actual figure. They say this figure is enough to pay for our external debt a hundred times over. It will boost our economy to the high heavens. We may in fact become a developed nation. Not in our life and not on solid earth.

 

The figure is quite impressive, enough to wow any reader, until you break it down and discover it is all a game of numbers. The $150 trillion is the gross value of total global prices of finished products. If you remove the cost of exploration, processing, transport, taxes, not to mention the ‘development’ funds to appease protesting host countries and host communities, you are left with about a quarter of that, or $37 trillion.

 

The lion’s share of that total net sales goes to the mining firm, about 92%. The 8% goes to the government in terms of 1) taxes, a miniscule 2%, which are largely unpaid in the first five years due to tax ‘incentives’, and 2) shares of the local host communities, and the private sector, including local partners who are but fronts. So we Filipinos are left with 8% of $37 trillion or $2.96 trillion. Still quite a sum, you would think, until you break it down further.

 

A mining project has a life span of about 25 years, so we spread that amount to get a figure of $118 billion or Php47 trillion per year. So you see, we are down from the trillions to the billions in terms of dollars, and down from the quadrillions to the trillions in terms of pesos.

 

Remember that the original figure of $150 trillion is a broad estimate of ‘total un-mined minerals’ of all sorts from gold to copper to nickel to zinc, etc. The proposed Xstrata-SMI gold copper mine in Tampakan, South Cotabato, to be the largest nationwide, and the fifth largest worldwide, is a miniscule $8 billion, a mere 0.00053% of that towering figure of $150 trillion. Immediately, you see the flaw. It will take two centuries perhaps to get the $150 trillion.

 

If we go through the same route to breakdown the Xstrata-SMI figure and compute what would benefit the Philippine economy, the gross $8 billion becomes $2 billion after expenses, then becomes $16 million after getting our 8% share, then becomes $640,000 per annum, or Php25 million. Php25 million per year is pure peanuts and will hardly make a dent as an ‘economic benefit’ to the nation. This is dwarfed by our other incomes like from our Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs). So you see how the ‘wowing’ figure of $8 billion creates an illusion of economic growth. It is all a numbers game perpetrated by large mining firms everywhere.

 

What we will lose in our agrarian economy from mining is far far greater and is incomprehensible and unquantifiable because the damage is irreversible and is in perpetuity. The Xstrata-SMI proposed 1.35 billion-metric-ton tailings dam is ‘in perpetuity’, meaning forever. This massive toxic material will sit there forever on top of the mountain long after Xstrata-SMI has left with its billions. Forever, yes, until an earthquake or typhoon, similar to that one that devastated Cagayan de Oro, brings that ‘forever dam’ down the lush valley below.

 

The fault line of the recent Saranggani earthquake, 5.5 on the Richster scale, is very close to Tampakan. The Xstrata mine site in fact sits above a complex network of faultlines that originate in Negros.

 

Let us not even attempt to quantify the loss in crops across millions of hectares of prime agricultural lands, part of the Central Mindanao bread basket that contributes considerably to the food security of Mindanao, not to mention the entire nation. The Boac river in Marinduque is now dead. It is beyond rehabilitation in spite of the millions of dollars Placer Dome-Marcopper gave to the Philippine government, a drop in the bucket compared to the billions it earned from the mine. We do not even know where that rehab money went into. The Xstrata-SMI tailings dam is about 20 times bigger than that of Marcopper in the Boac River.

 

This means the damage across the lush valleys of South Cotabato and Davao del Sur will be irreversible, denying food to millions. If Noynoy  awards the license to Xstrata in the name of the myth of ‘economic development for the nation’, he will be inducing famine, insurgency, and set back the poverty level five times over. And since this is irreversible, we are talking of hunger for generations to come across a vast area of Central Mindanao.

 

Xstrata does not care. It did not even say in its EIA what happens if the dam breaks, no substantial mitigating measure, no study on the effects of such a massive cataclysm. They expect Noynoy to give the mine on a silver platter because they said it will benefit us, when it will destroy us. If Noynoy falls for it, we are all dead. He will also be the laughing stock 25 years from now, if the dam finally breaks. If he is still alive, his conscience will bother him so much, he will have nightmares about the millions of his countrymen he has rendered more poor and hungry, killing each other for the last morsels. The money we will earn from Xstrata is incomparable, so vastly miniscule compared to what we will lose in terms of food and agrarian lands through the generations.

 

[This article is being emailed to Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, DBM Secretary Butch Abad, DENR Secretary Paje, Mining Study Group Secretariat Atty. Grip Bueta, MGB Director Jasareno, NCIP Zenaida Pawid, CHR Chair Rosales, South Cotabato SP Member Ernie Catedral, British Ambassador Stephen Lillie, SMI Environment Manager Ian Callow, ECJP-NASSA Chair Broderick Pabillo, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez, NASSA Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, AMRSP Archie Casey, Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, SAC Marbel Fr. Joy Pelino and Rene Pamplona, Christian Monsod, Philippine Misereor Partnership Atty. Mario Maderazo, Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera, ABS-CBN Foundation President Gina Lopez, orking Group on Mining in the Philippines Clive Wicks and Robert Goodland, Philippine Daily Inquirer Editor in Chief Letty Magsanoc, Mindanews Editor in Chief Carolyn Arguillas, and about 7,000 thousand mine watchers nationwide and abroad.]

 

Bernie Lopez, eastwind journals
Opinyon Magazine, June 25, 2012
redgate77@gmail.com
eastwind journals26 Jun 2012 11:12 pm

eastwind journals 38 – NOYNOY’s MINING MINDSET anatomy of a president

eastwind journals 38

 

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.

 

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NOYNOY’s MINING MINDSET
Anatomy of a President
 
They say it is okay to be ignorant as long as you are not arrogant. A combination of the two is disaster. An ignorant arrogant person will insist violently in his ignorance. Humility is the saving grace for ignorance.

 

The same is true for being pro-foreigner. It is okay to be pro-foreigner as long as you are not anti-Filipino. A pro-foreigner anti-Filipino will sell his own kind for a song, and make it look like ‘economic growth’ even if it is the opposite. Being a true Filipino is the saving grace for a pro-foreigner. What is Noynoy?

 

When Noynoy signs the pro-foreigner anti-Filipino mining EO, he is not really that much of a pro-foreigner. He is just after non-existent big bucks. He is, just like the rest of our presidents, pro-money. But who isn’t these days? Rare is the president who would serve the Filipino, not during these hard times. In the local jargon, we say “Hindi na uso yon.” (That is no longer a trend.) But there are many of us who are hungry for a president who would sacrifice imagined big bucks for the beleaguered Filipino. We need a Gandhi whose charisma overwhelms, whose unselfishness is known even in the remote Himalayan foothills.

 

Why is the mining EO pro-foreigner? Simple, it gives preferences to mining multinationals, which we all know have dozens of dirty tricks up their sleeves, whose bad reputation worldwide is known. Recently, a high school teacher was caught using signatures of students as evidence of support for the Xstrata-SMI project. What a pathetic desperate move. Noynoy gives rogue corporations a red carpet, thinking he would quadruple government revenue. But this is an illusion, as proven by a previous eastwind-journals article –
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2012/06/eastwind-journals-39
 
Why is the mining EO anti-Filipino? Simple – take for example the Xstrata-SMI mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato, which will destroy hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land at the very heart of Central Mindanao permanently for all future generations. It will induce protracted famine and insurgency, and here we have Noynoy who is blind to this. He sees only the glitter of gold. That is being anti-Filipino with a capital F. The Xstrata-SMI project will be the largest nationwide once approved. It will build a mega-tailings dam 20 times that of the infamous Marcopper dam in Marinduque sitting forever atop a mountain, waiting for an earthquake or a super-typhoon. Watch the Youtube on ‘Killer Dam – part1’-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozhDMXjuR3s

 

Why is the mining EO unconstitutional. Simple, it arrogantly contradicts many existing laws. It ignores the Local Government Code LGC) and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA). The EO says that national law has primacy over local laws, negating the Local Government Code. Let the Supreme Court have the final say. For an EO is never above the law or the Constitution. If a presidential EO negates existing laws, then we are in a dictatorship, not a democracy.

 

The EO ignores the role of the Department of Agriculture which is concerned about massive damage to agricultural lands. It allocates vital water for agriculture to create toxic tailings to destroy that very agriculture. Yet we still hopelessly an agrarian economy. To destroy agriculture lands in an agrarian economy is economic suicide. Noynoy cannot see this. DENR’s Paje and MGB’s Jasareno are not to blame. They simply follow blindly what the boss says, or resign.

 

Now for the first time, Noynoy is feeling political pressure. He has always been smug in his popularity, but like all presidents, Marcos, Ramos, even mother Cory, Erap, and GMA, Noynoy is on the way down in terms of ratings. No president can sustain popularity for strange reasons. Not in this country where forces from a 360 degree angle of the entire spectrum from infra-red (radical) to ultra-violet (conservative) are ready to pounce at the slightest provocation. Well, for Noynoy, the provocation has come, though not that slight. A class action suit from 40 (or less) governors, if it is not just a threat, can be more serious than impeachment in terms of popularity. It is the last thing he wanted. It may be the greatest blunder of his administration. This may negate his legacy. Winning in the Supreme Court against 40 governors will not restore his popularity. The only thing that can reverse this political disaster is humility. He must be humble enough to admit his mistake and recall the mining EO. But out of perhaps arrogance and ignorance, he will not. It is shameful to change one’s mind when you live in a palace. It is a sign of weakness.

 

Yet this weakness was evident all along. For many months, Noynoy was vacillating, not knowing what to do. The powerful lobby forces from both pro- and anti-mining groups were overwhelming him. He postponed the mining EO proclamation several times. There were about seven versions of a new mining act. He was at a loss because he never had the true vision of development for the Filipino. His vision was development for government in partnership with rogue multinationals. The pros and the antis were like oil and water. This environment-versus-economy war locked Noynoy in an impasse. He was right in the middle. 

 

If I were Xstrata-SMI, I would not roll out the barrel yet. It is a premature move. Many things can happen. There is a high probability the Supreme Court is pro-Filipino. It can easily junk the EO. Also, the Filipino may not allow a President to turn the vital Central Mindanao bread basket into a Boac River beyond rehabilitation. Goodluck Mr. President on your infamous political gambit.

 

[This article is being emailed to Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, DBM Secretary Butch Abad, DENR Secretary Paje, Mining Study Group Secretariat Atty. Grip Bueta, MGB Director Jasareno, NCIP Zenaida Pawid, CHR Chair Rosales, South Cotabato SP Member Ernie Catedral, British Ambassador Stephen Lillie, SMI Environment Manager Ian Callow, ECJP-NASSA Chair Broderick Pabillo, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez, NASSA Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, AMRSP Archie Casey, Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, SAC Marbel Fr. Joy Pelino and Rene Pamplona, Christian Monsod, Philippine Misereor Partnership Atty. Mario Maderazo, Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera, ABS-CBN Foundation President Gina Lopez, orking Group on Mining in the Philippines Clive Wicks and Robert Goodland, Philippine Daily Inquirer Editor in Chief Letty Magsanoc, Mindanews Editor in Chief Carolyn Arguillas, and about 7,000 thousand mine watchers nationwide and abroad.]

 

Bernie Lopez
advance copy, eastwind journals column
Opinyon Magazine, July 9, 2012
redgate77@gmail.com
eastwind journals26 Jun 2012 10:25 pm

eastwind journals 37 – BREAKING NEWS blood flows in Tampakan

eastwind journals 37

 

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.

 

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BREAKING NEWS – BLOOD FLOWS IN TAMPAKAN
Prelude to the predicted full-scale war

 

Two were killed and five wounded due to a mining-related activity of conducting an Xstrata-SMI relocation survey. First, an Xstrata-SMI security guard and a policeman were reportedly killed when they entered without permission the house of a B’laan to conduct the relocation survey.

 

After three days, an encounter between B’laans and elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion left two CAFGUs and three soldiers wounded. The 27th Infantry Battalion is under Col. Alexis Bravo, who has blamed the incident on a renegade B’laan, Daguil Capion, who is in hiding. Col. Bravo has vowed to get Capion in an intensive manhunt (Sun Star, Davao, June 22, 2012). The Church and the B’laans have expressed fears that the ongoing military operation will result in forced evacuation and loss of innocent lives.

 

On June 21, a dialog was conducted in Marbel, facilitated by Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez, among Church, military and B’laans. After the dialogue, the B’laans said they will not attend further planned dialogues until the military operations were stopped, which were endangering innocent lives, and pre-empting dialogues. They added that one cannot have dialogues and military operations at the same time.

 

The Illegal Xstrata-SMI Relocation Survey

 

The Xstrata-SMI relocation survey is a violation of a DENR memorandum ordering that, due to the denial of the ECC of Xstrata-SMI, further development activities in the mining site are banned. Xstrata-SMI continues to disregard and defy this ban, thus being the ultimate cause of all this emerging violence. Xstrata-SMI has suspended activities, including the illegal relocation survey, in the mine site

 

The ‘survey’ aims to make an inventory of properties to be compensated for upon relocation. Xstrata-SMI has threatened that no compensation will be given to those who do not sign the inventory based on a prescribed deadline. B’laans report that this threat is one way of subtly forcing consent. They say that they do not have details about the relocation, and are not properly informed, yet it is being forced upon them. Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) is required by law, rendering the relocation moves illegal. No government action has been taken yet against this illegal moves of Xstrata-SMI.

 

B’laans of Bong Mal have reported to Xstrata-SMI relocation teams that they would rather die than be relocated to Atmurok, where they have had a long-standing feud with B’laans there. That relocation is virtually suicide, inducing a tribal war. B’laans say that Xstrata-SMI consistently ignores this questionable relocation plan, and insists in continuing the relocation survey.

 

There are some gnawing questions. First, why were there meetings between the military and Xstrata-SMI personnel, as admitted in talks with Church officials? Does Xstrata-SMI participate in military planning in order to suppress and neutralize protest? Is Xstrata-SMI intentionally inducing war through the illegal survey prior to forced relocation to sterilize the mining site of protests? Why is the military protecting not the B’laans but Xstrata-SMI, rich foreigners rather than poor Filipinos? Finally, why has the British Embassy expressed support for Xstrata, which is listed in the British stock exchange, and has remained silent about Xstrata’s questionable activities?

 

[This article is being emailed to Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, DBM Secretary Butch Abad, DENR Secretary Paje, Mining Study Group Secretariat Atty. Grip Bueta, MGB Director Jasareno, NCIP Zenaida Pawid, CHR Chair Rosales, South Cotabato SP Member Ernie Catedral, British Ambassador Stephen Lillie, SMI Environment Manager Ian Callow, ECJP-NASSA Chair Broderick Pabillo, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez, NASSA Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, AMRSP Archie Casey, Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, SAC Marbel Fr. Joy Pelino and Rene Pamplona, Christian Monsod, Philippine Misereor Partnership Atty. Mario Maderazo, Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera, ABS-CBN Foundation President Gina Lopez, orking Group on Mining in the Philippines Clive Wicks and Robert Goodland, Philippine Daily Inquirer Editor in Chief Letty Magsanoc, Mindanews Editor in Chief Carolyn Arguillas, and about 7,000 thousand mine watchers nationwide and abroad.]

 

Bernie Lopez
advance copy, eastwind journals column
Opinyon Magazine, July 2, 2012
redgate77@gmail.com