Friday, May 03, 2013

Mining 17: Palawan, Samar, Surigao and Mine Tailings

There is one lively exchange on mining in the facebook wall of a friend, JB Baylon. The original exchanges were made last February 19, 2013. Then the other day, one of JB's friends, that we will just call Mr. U, made strong anti-mining comments and called those who posted about mining in Australia and people wearing precious stones as "morons". It's personal attack of course, shooting the messenger, not the message.

I am posting the raw, unedited exchanges, except the less substantial comments. With explicit permission from JB and implicit permission from the others. To see the raw exchanges, check here on JB's fb wall. The three photos below are a screen shot + images from the sites mentioned. Six pages long, 3,200+ words, so get your snacks and enjoy reading.

February 19, 2013

Time and again I have asked university students "How many of you have signed a petition against mining?" and MANY hands go up. Then I ask them "How many of you have been to a mine?" - and almost NO hand is raised. As a self-proclaimed "political commentator and social observer" the results amaze me and sadden me and thrill me all at the same time - I am amazed because people (whatever age) are willing to SIGN petitions based solely on what they have heard; saddened, because this tells me that when you (an individual, an organization, even a corporation) are up against a well-entrenched campaign to impugn your character and you don't have a chance to show people the real you, then you will most likely be judged by what media tells people about you. And thrilled, because each and everyone I have accompanied to see the mining operation I work for has returned from the visit a little better informed and more open to the idea that there is a valid distinction between mining operations on one hand and responsible mining operations on the other - just like in almost any family there is the proverbial black sheep among the white. THE PROBLEM IS, we cannot afford to bring 100 million Filipinos to see how we do business - and yet many media practitioners consistently REFUSE our invitation to go - afraid perhaps that they will have to eat their words and admit that they have not been totally fair?? Today I extended an invitation through a friend to organize a visit for a network, and was told that the response was "lukewarm". Why? For this I am grateful to those who have accepted my invitation to go and who have remained free, after to visit, to say or not say (or write or NOT write about) what they feel about our operations. At the very least i hope the trip provided them a different point of view from the general impression that our industry sometimes unfairly labors under. Indeed my warning to those who join me on the trip is this : Be prepared to have many if not all of your pre-conceived notions about mining companies challenged, if not totally over turned. And I know that that can be a very unsettling proposition!

Paul Alli I am from Samar, and I know what the mining companies have done to its environment: pillage and plunder while destroying its environs. Meanwhile the Samarenos are still majority poor. No wonder they call us "Warays" because its English translation is "nothing". I can document cases in Samar where they have undervalued copper, manganese, and chromite exports to other countries, thanks to the DENR,LGUs and Bureau of Customs in cahoots with the mining companies. I am also working with another case in Surigao. A land belonging to a tribe. Its chieftain told me that until now the 29 mining companies operating in their tribal land has not given them royalties from their mining operations.

JB Baylon We should come down hard on anyone and everyone who violates the law. It is as simple as that. And I am not surprised about what you said about government being in cahoots...this is true in many industries. Unfortunately there is no short cut: prosecute the guilty. Unfortunately also we cannot jump from your experience there to make it a general rule. I am just sorry if Samar has gotten the raw end of the deal for years. Who are the companies and who are the owners?

Paul Alli I cannot name names know the law nowadays. I will send you a separate email if you want.

JB Baylon Paul Alli yes please...private message me so I can give you my email address. This should be part of our cleansing the political-economic system...

Grace Arre-Carandang Hi JB, I likewise would have said no to mining years ago due to lack of knowledge about it. Having moved to Australia, it didn't take long for me to understand that mining is one of the propellers of this nation's economy. It brings in billions of dollars of export income from supplying minerals and resources globally (iron ore, coal, nickel, copper, just to name a few). It provides work for millions (including immigrants) and supports communities all across the country. If they have turned mining into a successful industry from where it started 150 years ago, our nation can do it too.

Tess Leano People who are against mining should never wear precious stones (diamonds, ruby, sapphire,etc) and metals (platinum, gold, silver, etc) because of obvious reasons - they are mining products!

JB Baylon Aimee Grace B Tapeceria Grace Arre-CarandangTess Leano thank you very much for your comments. as I said there are irresponsible miners and there are responsible ones and the problem is that the sins of the former are typecast as sins of everyone. Responsible miners should get their act together and themselves help call the irresponsible ones to account -- but guess what: there is so much politics and corruption involved that someone (an ex-military official) told me that illegal mining is the new JUETENG. So that's what we are up against here....

May 1, 2013…

Mr. U. People commenting here about mining in Australia and wearing stones and what not are morons. I live in Surigao where mining is rampant. Some of our rivers there are now dead due to laterite. Australia is a huge country where they can mine far from where the people live. In our place our mountains are right beside our towns, our agriculture, our fishponds where we catch our fish. They are connected to our beaches. "watershed" areas are not to be mined. We tried to stop the cutting of our trees and yet we support mining? Parang sinasabi mo sa barbero, "manong hindi nyo po puedeng putolin ang buhok ko pero puede nyo po i scrape yung scalp ko." Ganon ba tayo ka tanga? By the way JB have you been to Surigao? if not, better go there and look for yourself the bad effects of mining that you trying to defend. It is not rocket science to understand what's good and bad. Here is a video as I've said not rocket science. And by the way try bringing the students to the mining sites and ask them again who voted against mining and you will be fascinated to see both hands raised.

May 2-3, 2013

JB Baylon The old tailings dam is now GREEN because banana trees and rice were planted on it...

 it should also be explained to ordinary mortals like me who are not really mining experts what a tailings dam is and what they see! rather than think that the red liquid is blood, twe should be told that this is actually high iron content soil still high in water content; once dried, the soil starts to look like cakes of chocolate, reddish brown due to the iron.

but it will be unfair actually for me to use Rio R+Tuba as a gauge against which other mining firms should be judged. Because rio Tuba has been in operaton since 1970s, mining out about 600 hectares out of a mineralized area of 2100 over its 35 years of existence, it now has areas it has rehabilitated and replanted to trees, created tilapia ponds, etc...Other mining companies DO NOT HAVE mined out areas yet, so they cannot start rehabilitation yes you see a scarred landscape.

as to your graphic example of telling your barber na "hindi nyo pwede putulin yung buhok ko pero pwede ninyo i-scrape yung scalp ko", what you didn't add is that you also say "pagkatapos ninyo i-scrape your scalp ko eh ibalik ninyo yung buhok ko or mag hair transplant kayo". Wich is what I need to have done soon to my own scalp.

It is NOT unfair for me to use Rio Tuba, though, to debunk the arguments of some anti mining advocates that mining in Palawan endangers the underground river or el nido....thats why when the DLSU, UP and Ateneo students take the five hour land trip over half-cemented roads, they end up scratching their heads wondering why such claims are made,,,and end up saying they feel misled into signing the "No to Mining in Palawan" petitions. They also feel misled when they see the La Salle-run school in Rio Tuba that caters both to employees dependents and qualified kids of the community, or the primary hospital that does the same, r the GK villages for IPs...

of course i say NOT all anti mining advocates are irresponsible, and we need anti mining advocates to keep ensuring that the industry is on its toes. what only makes me curious is that some anti mining advocates lash out at big scale mining firms who are under the magnifying lens of the MGB, DENR, BIR, DoF, etc...but stay SILENT about the small-scale, usually illegal mining going on throughout the country...It's like they're after the Megamalls and the Malls of Asia for selling soft drinks and fruit juices that are said to be high in sugar content...but do not say anything about the 800,000 sari-sari stores spread all over the country in every barangay that do the same...

Nonoy Oplas I've been to Rio Tuba. Have photos here with discussion,
The reddish pond you posted could be the old mine tailings pond, it's now dry, the silt are now blocks of dried red soil, and thick and tall cogons have grown on them.

I want to blog this exchange, not all but the substantial exchanges. Permission to use your comments please, JBPaul, Grace Carandang, Thank you.

JB Baylon  I think it is best if you take the pictures when we take you around. Btw- which to you is an example of a responsible mining operation? Anywhere in the world that is...?

Mr. U Nonoy I must say I am impressed with the rehabilitation,NOT! cmon after 38 years of mining you showed me a bit of papayas and a forest? is it a forest really? You are sighting Australia and Canada, I am looking at it and I see no rivers used for irrgations, , beautiful beaches and ricefields beside it? How about this This goes 10 or more kilometers all the way to the sea, got any expert advice how to clean this mess? so yeah they are morons and sadly you just put yourself into that category.
Posted in facebook October 14, 2011

And you did not get my permission using my name on your blog and its a NO. What a responsible blogger. Unbelievable.

here I just found this! I fell on my seat watching this! haha! you guys worked for NAC right? and one of the winners on your website Environmental Awards is TADAAAA... TAGANITOOOO!!! what a joke! your arguments and credibility just flushed down the toilet! Now, any expert advice how to fix the claver strait? that's right, NONE!

JB Baylon  you havent answered my question about which, if any, you consider a responsible miner, anywhere in the world. Same question I want to ask ted but I think his answer will be "none". Yours?

again I say come and visit Rio Tuba. And then we can compare it with Surigao and understand why there is siltation in one area and not in the other.

Nonoy Oplas  I removed your name in my blog post. Apologies if I hurt you by naming you. But let me inform you that I have a term for people who blabbermouth but are unwilling to stand by their statements: cowards and/or idiots. I think you put yourself in that category by refusing to be fully identified with those statements and personal attacks. Anyway, I gave the link to this thread on JB's wall, so many of his friends would know you and your language.

About the photo of a river in Surigao, sure, there are many irresponsible miners, big and so-called "small mining." They should be condemned both. But most anti-mining blabbermouth neer condemn "small scale" aka "big politicians" mining, only the big corporate mines. People like Ted Failon and Gina Lopez belong to this category, and from your postings, you also belong there.

Mr. U Nonoy by your answer you just confirmed it.  I stand by my statement what are you talking about? I just presented you hard facts didn't I? I live in surigao and and I can attest to you that your examples of canada is not even close to what we have in our place. And where do you live? thats right in PASIG Metro Manila, wow. Did you even watch the video? Relax my friend. JB credibilty is very important man, your company messed up our place.

But thank you for removing my name, maybe next time try to be a little patient.

JB Baylon  i guess we will obviously have to be content with disagreeing on a number of points. But why not come to Rio Tuba? which by the way is a much older mine and therefore already subject to mine rehab in some areas...and why not give me an idea of what you consider a responsible miner? Anywhere in the world - Canada, Indonesia, South Africa -- so we can use that as a gauge to rate NAC and its subsidiaries?

btw...mining companies are assessed a fee annually for use in the eventual mine rehab...this is under the 1995 Mining the video Ted talks about you and me having to pony up funds to rehabilitate silted rivers...that's for mines what are closed and that operated under the OLD mining law...not exactly very the sins of the old miners under the old law are being carried by the miners working under the new law...was he aware of the difference? if yes, why did he not mention it? if no, that's poor research i think. leading to irresponsible reporting...

more importantly, the video seemed silent as well on small scale, illegal mining!. why?

Mr. U Sure one day if I come to Puerto Princesa. But its too late our place is doomed.

JB Baylon  sure dont back down but again help me by showing me what to you is a good gauge of responsible mining...if not here than anywhere in the world?

any example of a responsible mining firm?

also notice that Ted's report does not talk about the requirement of the 1995 Mining Act that mining forms spend some 1-1.5% of their operating costs/expenses as part of the effect, MANDATED CSR, not imposed on any other industry...clearly it is a report that highlights what makes the industry look bad and suppresses anything that could provide info about benefits...again, why?

please search and let me know. Am interested to find out what your gauge is of a responsible miner.

Nonoy Oplas You started with personal attacks, calling Grace Carandang and Tess Leano as "morons", reaffirmed it as "yeah, they are morongs", and lumped me in the same category, fine. I've received personal attacks worse than that in my other debates with statists and environmental alarmists. Usually that is the attitude of cowards and idiots, hurl personal attacks then duck, never mention their names or show their faces.

I saw the Reporters' Notebook/GMA7 and Ted Failon/ABS-CBN videos. I think that say, there are 50 active big mining companies in the country. Five of which are terribly and unabashedly irresponsible and just dump their mine tailings in rivers. Then five of which are also responsible and make all efforts not to allow even small amount of tailings to flow into rivers. The probability that many mainstream media, GMA7 and ABS CBN included, will feature the bad ones and not the good ones, is possibly 80 to 100 percent.

Bottomline: condemn ALL irresponsible miners, big and small, corporate and non-corporate. If they only condemn irresponsible big mining but are silent on irresponsible "small scale" mining, just plain hypocrisy and stupidity.

Mr. U are we done Noy? Yes bottomline our place is doomed and you are in pasig city writing blogs for NAC, the one who is responsible.

And I am not hiding my face, I just dont want to be in your blog? whats wrong about that?

Nonoy Oplas Yes maybe we are done. I live in Makati and attend various fora, including those by anti-mining groups like LRC in UP. I debate face to face, I also debate online, and people can quote ALL of my online comments and postings, noting to ide or be ashamed of. I saw from your profile that you live in LA, California, and stilll you are scared to put your name side by side with your language and arguments, lousy.

Mr. U What? I am not scared i just dont want to be in your blog! And yes i am in LA, but that will not take away the fact that i grow up in surigao an you are writing blogs for the company who doomed our place. Plain and simple.

JB Baylon there are a number of mining firms in Claver. Taganito is just one of them. Don't worry: they operate under the 1995 Mining Act which already forces them to set aside funds for the rehab of your place...Anyway, if you can give me an example of a responsible mining firm anywhere in the world maybe we can use that as a measure against which you can judge Taganito et al. And remember that rehab begins once an area is declared mined-out, as we have done to 250 hectares in Rio Tuba.

Nonoy Oplas Ouch. I have written a total of 18 articles on mining -- out of 1,400+ total blog posts -- only two are about Rio Tuba, now you call me “writing blogs for the company who doomed our place.” Pathetic generalization, kaluoy nimo Dong oyy.  Guess that confirms idiocy.

Mr. U JB i hope that will happen, there is nothing we can do about that but repair. Noy ok na ka? 

Nonoy Oplas ok na ta bai. Meanwhile, refresh the above link, I copy-pasted all the recent exchanges, 6 pages long, 3,000+ words, enjoy bai.

Mr. U You said i am hiding my face and you were able to know who and where i live? Pathetic

Nonoy Oplas i thought ok na ta bai. Till the next round of debate. JB, start ka ulit thread on the subject, focus on surigao mining, then tag me and him. Another round of entertainment  :-) 

Mr. U Ok na bai haha. Wow!

See also:
Mining 13: Timeline of Policies, April 16, 2013 
Mining 14: Teddy Casino's Environmentalism, April 18, 2013 

Mining 15: Geological Aspects of Mineral Extraction, April 24, 2013 

Mining 16: CSR, WWF and Environmental Alarmism, April 27, 2013

No comments: