Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pinoy Gold Mine

The fans of Gaia sure do love anyone who's "tribal". I don't know what the real background on this story is but the article has all the hallmarks being written my some Luddite. Read it if you dare.

NZ-listed gold miner faces Philippines opposition

Violence is feared likely to break out in a mountainous area of the Philippines – near the site of a multi-million-dollar gold and copper mine venture by New Zealand's largest gold miner, Oceana Gold Ltd.

The Philippine Star newspaper reported that anti-mining villagers – already stirred up over having New Zealand-listed Oceana's operation in the area – are blockading an Australian-owned company, Oxiana Philippines, which is moving in equipment for prospecting another site.

The villagers, led by tribal elders and supported by environmental groups and the local Catholic Church, have vowed to stand their ground against the miner, despite a court order for them to clear the road leading to the exploration site.

Last week, provincial sheriffs tasked to implement a court injunction gave the residents of Kasibu until Tuesday to vacate the road leading to the exploration site or else be forcibly dispersed.

But the anti-mining villagers vowed to stay on,the Philippine Star reported.

"It is our roads they will be passing through," said Denny Dugay, a community official. "And besides, we will never be in favour of mining." He alleged that Oxiana did not consult local leaders on the project, an allegation which the mining firm denied.

But Mayor Romeo Tayaban said the New Zealand and Australian-owned companies continued to explore mining prospects in their villages despite the stiff opposition from residents, composed of various tribal communities.

His villagers were struggling to fight off three mining projects by Oxiana Philippines Inc. and Oceana Gold Philippines Inc.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples both said residents in the primary impact zone had endorsed Oxiana's exploration project.

Engineer Jerrysal Mangaoang, MGB's Cagayan Valley regional director, said their national office granted Oxiana a two-year exploration permit covering 3000ha for explore gold, copper and other minerals of commercial value.

The Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and various local environmental groups said the government should not have issued an exploration permit to Oxiana since its site is part of an important watershed.

Since July 12, tribal men have been guarding a barricade on a mountain road to prevent OPI's entry.

In nearby Papaya village, residents have also been protesting the entry of equipment to be used by Oceana Gold for its exploration, fearing possible destruction of the watershed forest there. Water from the watershed irrigates the vegetable gardens and citrus plantations in the area.

In Didipio village, eight farmers were charged by environment officials with illegal occupancy of forest lands after they rejected Oceana Gold's offer to pay for their occupational rights.

Didipio is the site of Oceana Gold's proposed gold-copper project, with about 90ha of its 375-hectare production area occupied by tribal farmers.

The Kasibu area is considered the citrus capital of the country, with an annual output of about 10 million kilograms of oranges from an estimated 20,000 hectares of citrus plantations.

Ramoncito Gozar, associate director of communications for the NZ-owned Oceana, said mining projects in the town would benefit the country.

"The mayor should realize that (the Didipio venture) is a government project for the good of the majority," he said.

"He doesn't like mining, but (OceanaGold) is a contractor of the Philippine government," Mr Gozar said.

Oceana Gold which owns the McRaes mine near Dunedin, is taking over Philippines gold and copper explorer Climax Mining Ltd and aims to become a major player in the region alongside giants such as Newcrest Mining Ltd and Lihir Gold Ltd.

Oceana Gold has said it expects to be producing 550,000 ounces of gold annually by the time Dinkidi is commissioned at the end of next year.

The Philippines ranks among the world's top five countries for deposits of copper, nickel and iron ore and is geographically closer to resource-hungry China than the region's other major mining centre, Indonesia.

Now... note that they are EXPLORING for gold. Not MINING it. As you have to EXPLORE AND FIND the gold first. There may be no gold to be found. Exploration gear would be a few rigs to drill for core samples, possibly some seismic survey gear and some equipment to clear a road to get to the drill sites. Yet in this article it is reported like the strip mining has begun and the trees are being clear cut by giant corporate-industrial-gaia-rape-machines driven by white men in suits smoking cigars and crushing the tribal elders as the sit in their drum-peace-circle.

What beef the locals have may very well be legit. I'm sure I wouldn't what kill-dozer and his family rumbling through my back yard. But this sort of reporting just makes the whole thing a joke by soaking it in all the tired cliches of the dirt worshippers. It also shows a frightening ignorance of mining and and exploration companies.

Of course "Oceana Gold has said it expects to be producing 550,000 ounces of gold annually by the time Dinkidi is commissioned at the end of next year". They aren't about to say "oh we don't actually have a clue what might be in the ground" as the shares would drop like a stone and they'd have no financing to continue looking for the gold.