Indigenous peoples commission stops Mankayan drilling

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI), a subsidiary of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC), was ordered by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to stop its drilling operations at Barangay Tabio, Madaymen, Mankayan, Benguet.

The NCIP released its decision Tuesday, granting a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) to members of “Teeng Di Mankayan,” the group which filed the request at the IP body.

NCIP hearing officer Brain Masweng, in a three-page decision, ordered the 20-day TRO to stop all drilling under the ancestral land domain of the plaintiffs.


The NCIP noted only the Teeng Di Mankayan filed its position paper in court while nothing was given by the company.

A summary hearing is set on March 27 to decide on the application for an injunction by the group of landowners.

In 2011, Gold Fields infused $66 million to LCMC to acquire 40-percent Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI) project, representing the second tranche of payment following the previous US$10 million paid in 2010 for the mining project.

Goldfields Philippines Inc. is conducting its due diligence phase of operations at the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation Far Southeast site, aiming to decide by the end of the month if the project is feasible.

At the end of March, if Gold Fields decides to proceed with the acquisition of the 60-percent interest in Far South East, the final payment of US$220 million is expected to be paid during the first half of 2012.

However, protests by IP groups in the area have remained to be the sole hurdle in the otherwise positive project aiming to expand the LCMC reach.

Allegedly, Madaymen residents are affected in the present drilling and are up in arms in protest. A SAVE Mankayan movement has likewise gained ground with more people joining the advocacy to halt expansion of LCMC and its newest investor, Gold Fields Philippines for the Far Southeast Project under their subsidiary FSGRI.

Public Information Officer for the FSGRI Joann Gatchalian chose not to comment on the matter, saying the company has yet to receive a copy of the TRO.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 16, 2012.

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