The people of Mindoro province, the northern island of the Philippines, have finally pronounced their victory over international mining companies. The new law introducing a 25 year moratorium suspends all the major excavations in Mindoro province. Although the decision to stop any large-scale mining by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was first introduced in July 2001 only this month’s decision will encourage local people to regain control over their lives and their environment. One additional step that perpetrated the 25 year moratorium happened in November, 2001, when the president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dropped a 30-billion-peso nickel mining project in Mindoro, raising an outrage among the top executives of Canadian company Crew Development Corporation. Crew is an established, multi commodity, Canadian mining company with operations in Africa, Canada, Greenland, Norway and the Philippines.
Mindoro province contains especially valuable resources greatly sought by international companies. International companies use various tactics, such as bribery, in order to get the approval of local communities. For example, the Canadian-based Crew Development Corporation was offering gifts to the local people in order to receive the approval for the new mine development in the agricultural areas of the Mindoro Island.
Apart from the victorious news concerning Mindoro province, the battles against large-scale mining companies continue in other areas of the Philippines. The country, so rich in minerals such as gold, copper, chromite, nickel, silver, and other natural resources, yet so poor because of the huge international debts, attracts many foreign investors. Those regions that are occupied by indigenous groups, are specifically targeted by international corporations, because they offer not only a vast amount of natural resources but also an easy access to them. Consequently, the local communities and their land are being exploited and marginalized. Mining developments cause enormous pollution, destruction of the vegetation, and finally the displacement of the local communities.
The Philippines is a tropical, mountainous country of 7,100 large and small islands, is the home for more than 10 million indigenous people that utilize this environment as their means of survival. Many locals claim, the mining projects do not help support the livelihoods of the local peoples nor for that matter the national economy, but serve the purposes of big-time corporations. They exploit the environment, causing irreparable damage and at the same time greatly affecting the lives of the indigenous communities. Exploitation, pollution, and complete eradication of the local resources are just a few signs telling about the presence of the mining companies.