Call for an end to destructive mining in the Philippines

Posted: 19 February 2007

Mining in the Philippines has left over 800 abandoned mines littered throughout the countryside, caused massive environmental damage and has been linked to serious human rights abuses, according to a new international report.

The report, Mining in the Philippines - Concerns and Conflicts, is by a team led by Clare Short MP, the former UK Secretary of State for Overseas Development, who visited the Philippines in July and August 2006.

Mining pollution, Philippines
Mining pollution, Philippines
Mining pollution, Philippines. Photo credit: © IUCN/CEESP

"I was deeply shocked by the negative impact of mining in the Philippines," writes Clare Short. "We met with communities affected by mining and proposals for new mines. We heard how indigenous people had been shifted off their lands to make way for mining and how their consultation rights had been undermined and ignored. We saw polluted rivers, destroyed mangrove forests, damaged coral and ruined agriculture. We concluded that the Philippines is in danger of losing much of its rich biodiversity and damaging the lives of unique indigenous cultures.

"I have never seen anything so systematically destructive as the mining programme in the Philippines. The environmental effects are catastrophic as are the effects on people's livelihoods," she concludes.

The legacy from abandoned mines and the operation of existing mines continue to negatively affect the livelihoods of many thousands of poor Filipinos, according to the report. These effects are particularly detrimental to the Philippines indigenous peoples. Over 800 extrajudicial killings have been reported since 2001. Disturbingly, a number of these killings are believed to be directly linked to protests against mining. The current plans for a major expansion of the mining industry will seriously exacerbate all of these problems.

Massive opencast mine,  Philippines
Massive opencast mine, Philippines
Massive opencast mine, Philippines. Photo credit: © IUCN/CEESP

Some key recommendations from the report include:

  • The Philippines Government should demonstrate that it is willing to adhere to its own laws and to international mining best practice and standards by immediately cancelling all current mining applications that will inevitably cause major environmental damage to critical watersheds, eco-systems, agriculture or fisheries and result in social disruption, such as those in Midsalip and Mindanao visited by the team.
  • The Philippines Government should heed the calls to revoke the Mining Act of 1995 and enact alternative legislation that more effectively protects the interests of the affected local communities, indigenous peoples and the environment.
  • The World Bank Group should uphold its mandate to help reduce world poverty and protect the environment by halting its promotion and support for mining expansion in the Philippines under current conditions.

The report can be downloaded here.