22 July 2009
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
In the chilly morning of Wednesday, on a bridge along Eastern Freeway, one of Melbourne’s important freeways, Australian and Filipino environmental activists dropped banners condemning open-cut mining saying 'Open cut mining scars the Earth, No to Roxby Expansion' and 'Philippines: Yes to Food, No to Mining'.
The newly formed Mining Action Philippines – Australia (MAP-Oz) composed of various Filipino and Australian groups and organisaitons, with aims of monitoring, assessing, evaluating and exposing various environmental and human and indigenous peoples rights issues of Australian mining companies in the Philippines, joined Friends of the Earth – Melbourne (FoE) in the Global Day of Action Against Open-pit Mining which is being simultaneously done around the world by members of Friends of the Earth International especially in Mexico, the Philippines and Canada.
‘Despite wanton environmental degradation, human rights violations and indigenous peoples’ rights abuses, Philippine and Australian companies continue to connive with the government to exploit our natural resources’, Rod Galicha of the Philippines’ anti-mining alliance. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), convenor of MAP-Oz.
‘The Philippine government still denies these abuses and violations, and continues to harmonise environmental policies in favour of the mining law, thus mining licenses are being given immediately without genuine consultation and consent from communities. Open-pit mining has been promoted and causes widespread deforestation and land use conversion that causes 20 to 25 percent of carbon emissions that cause climate change. We never learned our lesson’, he continues.
Mia Pepper of FoE says that ‘Australians should be aware of mining companies like BHP Billiton which put a protected area in danger, Indophil/Xstrata which is continuously being opposed, Central Gold Asia facing opposition everyday in Masbate, OceanaGold challenged by the local government of Nueva Vizcaya for tax issues and opposed by the indigenous communities, Pelican Resources with its Filipino partner that caused the murder of a local official, Royalco creating divisions among indigenous peoples, and the list still continues.’
‘Through AusAID, we help the Filipinos, but our fellow Australians with mining investments take the opportunity of exploiting their resources and these poor people in the villages where some of our aid go are being displaced, abused and sometimes their lives at stake. Australians should avoid expediency,’ she stressed.
Recently, former World Bank environmental scientist Dr. Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in their book ‘Philippines: Mining or Food?” said that mining threatens Philippine food security and the government and mining companies should make a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) before implementing mining projects. They further recommend moratoria of large-scale mining until issues are resolved and an alternative mining law passed.