Norwegian envoy probes mining firm in Mindoro Oriental as Norwegian media highlight resistance to mining operations


Robert A. Evora, Manila Bulletin –

Date of publication: 
21 November 2007

CALAPAN CITY — The government of Norway, expressing concern on reports
in that country about alleged “resistance” of residents to proposed
operations of a Norwegian-run mining company, has sought the help of its
diplomatic mission in the Philippines to check the activities of the
mining company and determine if the “negative” reports were accurate.

The fact-finding mission was led by Ambassador of State Thorstein Rissa
of the Royal Embassy of Norway. It will verify the truth on the negative
publicity in Norway that the proposed mining operation of the Mindoro
Nickel Project of Crew Minerals, Inc., was “being strongly opposed” by a
cross-section of Oriental Mindoro’s population.

He told local government officials that the government of Norway has
directed him to proceed to this province in view of the negative publicity.

Two documentaries broadcast by a number of TV stations in Norway
presented “strong resistance of the people of Oriental Mindoro against
the activities of the Crew Minerals, Inc.,” Rissa told Oriental Mindoro
Gov. Arnan C. Panaligan.

The documentaries carried film cuts of actual interviews with local
officials, from the barangays, town and city officials, up to the
provincial governor.

A number of NGO and church leaders, not to forget the indigenous sector
represented by Mangyans, were all present and voicing their disapproval
to the mining proposal.were also shown. The local Catholic church
leadership, under Bishop Warlito I. Cajandig, and who was joined by the
Apostolic Vicar of Calapan, were also shown expressing their strong
resistance to the proposed mining operation.

The TV interviews also showed the Mangyans, Mindoro’s indigenous
community, are opposing the mining project because it encroaches on
their ancestral lands, which they have been fighting for for several
decades now.

In the wake of the alleged resistance and opposition of the local
community, Norway media groups took to task the Crew Minerals, Inc. .

“Because of this, the government of Norway sent me here to find out if
the reports are true,” Ambassador Rissa told the Oriental Mindoro
provincial official.

The Oriental Mindoro Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has urged three
Mindoro congressmen, in a resolution, to “sponsor or cause the passage
of a legislative measure declaring the area around and between
Aglubang-Ibolo Rivers as critical and protected watershed areas.”

The area in question lies in the middle of the mine site of the Mindoro
Nickel Project in Barangay Villa Cerveza, in Victoria.

Copies of SP Resolution No. 226-2007 were furnished Rep. Rodolfo G.
Valencia and Rep. Alfonso V. Umali, Jr., of the first and second
congressional districts of Oriental Mindoro, respectively, and Rep.
Amelita C. Villarosa, of Occidental Mindoro.

The said area, according to SP Members Humerlito A. Dolor, Ernesto E.
Liwanag, and Romeo G. Infantado, comprising 33,000 hectares will give
refuge to wild flora and fauna, while its rivers will be utilized for
irrigation, fish farming, and other productive uses.