Australian mining companies

The Church and communities together in protest

The Church and communities together in protest

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) is a collective of Catholic religious, missionary organisations working in the rural areas of the Philippines. RMP has recently made the case against mining in the Philippines as a contributing author and publisher of the book ‘Undermining Patrimony: The Large-Scale Mining Plunder in Mindanao’. Catholic Mission is a funder of RMP projects and hosted a launch of this book in March 2016. The following information is a summary of critical points from this book.

  • Mindanao is the largest island group located in the southern part of the Philippines. As of 2013, 335,181 hectares of land in Mindanao is used for mining.
  • In Mindanao and anywhere else in the country, the most mineral rich areas are also the poorest.
  • Large-scale mining companies make huge profits and pay very low wages. Workers are paid $5 to $7 daily, in comparison an Australian mine worker is paid $477 per day for doing the same job.
  • The Australian mining companies which have major interests in Mindanao are Red 5 Limited, Medusa Mining Limited, and Indophil. All of these companies need to be the subject of advocacy actions which call on them to act ethically in relation to their management of their mining interests.
  • The immediate and long term impacts of mining on the environment are deforestation; erosion and siltation of water systems; water depletion from enormous consumption of water by mining activities; water contamination by acid mine drainage; water contamination by hazardous chemicals; air pollution; noise pollution from the machinery used in mining and the blasting; depletion of forest resources as mining activities consume enormous quantities of wood for their construction; mining activities bring major works such as road building, deviation of rivers and construction of dams.
  • The Lumads are the indigenous people of Mindanao, they are made up of eighteen tribal groups. For more than six decades they have suffered the consequences of destruction to the forests which are part of their ancestral home. The main threat that large-scale mining poses to the Lumads is dislocation which will affect their livelihoods and disrupt their way of life leading to further poverty and marginalisation.
  • The large presence of military which are there to impose “peace and development’ in the mining area have also disrupted their lives.
  • A military presence leads to killings, abductions and other human rights violations. In 2013, Karapatan, a people’s organisation reported there had been 169 extrajudicial killings of leaders from people’s organisations who had led protests against corruption.