Petition Closed
Petitioning Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje and 2 others

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Ramon Paje: That Pres. Aquino Cancel the FTAA of SMI-Xstrata Tampakan Mining Project

Despite the existing ban on open pit mining issued by the local government unit of South Cotabato, the residents and indigenous peoples community are still under grave threat from the world's fouth largest copper producer Xtrata Copper and its Philippine contractor Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) Philippines.

This is because of the existence of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) signed by the Office of the President that allows SMI to large-scale exploration, development and utilization of an estimated average of 360,000 ounces of gold and 375,000 tons of copper per annum within a mine area covering approximately 10,000 has. (SMI 2013: 11). The open pit would reach an extent of 500 has. and a depth of 785 m while the topsoil stockpile would cover an area of 5 has. and the pit ore stockpile 49 has. (AECOM 2011: 2-9).

If realized, the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in the Philippines and one of the largest of its kind worldwide. It straddles the jurisdiction of two regions, four provinces, four municipalities and nine barangays. The area is predominantly characterized by rainforest. About 5,000 people – approximately 1,000 households – inhabit the affected area and will require resettlement of inhabitants majority belonging to the B'laan indigenous communities.

An independent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) on Tampakan conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) exposed various moments of government deficiencies referring to the human rights of people possibly affected by the Tampakan Project. The HRIA observed a context which is characterized by a combination of government failures, prevailing poverty, a high level of marginalization and discrimination against indigenous groups, especially in terms of basic services, and a generally volatile conflict situation.

It pointed out already occurring heightened risks to the human rights of vulnerable population, as the rights to an adequate and meaningful Information and participation, livelihoods, health, education, culture, and the fundamental right to life, security, and liberty, should the project proceed.

Letter to
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Dir. Leo Jasareno
Environmental Management Bureau Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna
That Pres. Aquino Cancel the FTAA of SMI-Xstrata Tampakan Mining Project
Dear Mr. Paje,
Greetings of Peace!
We, residents of South Cotabato together with our fellow Filipinos from the rest of the country, and supporters from the International Community, respectfully request your good office to help us stop the human rights violations and grave attack to the environment in South Cotabato by cancelling the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of Sagittarius Mines, Inc-Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining Project in South Cotabato.
The Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) signed by the Office of the President allows SMI the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of minerals within a mine area covering approximately 10,000 has. (SMI 2013: 11). The open pit would reach an extent of 500 has. and a depth of 785 m. (AECOM 2011: 2-9). If realized, the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in the Philippines and one of the largest of its kind worldwide. It straddles the jurisdiction of two regions, four provinces, four municipalities and nine barangays. The area is predominantly characterized by rainforest. About 5,000 people – approximately 1,000 households – inhabit the affected area and will require resettlement of inhabitants majority belonging to the B'laan indigenous communities.

The Tampakan mine has a high potential for loss of life and high environmental damage.[i] The mine will cover 10,000 hectares and is proposed in a critical watercatchment which serves agricultural production in 4 Provinces. Destroying forests, digging a open pit mine covering nearly 500 hectares and nearly (800) meters deep, full of millions of tons of highly polluted water, storing 2.7 billion tons of toxic waste rock and tailings with a high arsenic content and a high PAD (potential for acid drainage) and leaving a waste rock facility nearly 300 meters high in a critical water catchment forever poses unacceptable risks. Constructing a 280 metre high and 2.1km long tailings dam covering 1000 hectares in the Mal River valley an area of high seismic activity presents even more risks particularly to the people who live in the valley.
Any failure at any time in the future will lead to loss of life and major damage to water catchments and shallow aquifers which provide water for agriculture and many towns and villages.

An independent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) on Tampakan conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) as commissioned by MISEREOR, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (Fastenopfer) as well as the Swiss protestant development organization Bread for All, recently published on June 13, 2013, observed a context which is characterized by a combination of government failures, prevailing poverty, a high level of marginalization and discrimination against indigenous groups, especially in terms of basic services, and a generally volatile conflict situation.
It pointed out already occurring heightened risks to the human rights of vulnerable population, such as violations against the rights to an adequate and meaningful Information and participation, livelihood, health, education, culture, and the fundamental right to life, security, and liberty, should the project proceed. In conclusion, a high degree of social volatility and heightened risks of environmental depredation highlight that the possibility to conduct large-scale open-pit mining in a way that is responsible from a human rights perspective does not seem feasible in Tampakan in the current situation.
Therefore Mining in the Tampakan conflict area should not be approved on environmental, economic, sustainable development and human rights grounds.

Hinorable Secretary you have in your hands the mandate to exercise the State’s duty to protect our people and environment. We appeal thet you exercise this mandate by recommending to President Benigno Aquino the cancellation of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement of the SMI-Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining Projec. Pleae be a protector of our people’s human rights and a steward of the Philippines' environment. Be a Protector of God's gifts.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Fr. Oliver Castor, C.Ss.R.
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)
and Tampakan Forum