Mine visit in Canada

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By Jesus “Jess” Dureza

Advocacy MindaNOW

Saturday, October 6, 2012

VANCOUVER. I am with a team that is visiting this week several mining sites in Canada, home of giant mining companies of the world. PAL flies direct to Vancouver from Manila 11 hours non-stop. We landed in Vancouver one day “earlier” we left Manila. The Philippines is 15 hours ahead on the clock.
I remember the last time I visited Vancouver was in 1989 when former President Cory Aquino made a State Visit to Canada. I was a member of her advance party then. It's so long ago that I can't even recall now what Vancouver looked like more than 20 years ago.

MINE SITE VISIT. We will fly one hour out of Vancouver, British Columbia   to see how a big mine, comparable to the Tampakan Gold and Copper project, operates. We will also go see a mine site that had stopped operations so we can check how "life after mining" looks like. We are looking at the operations of giant mines being operated by Xstrata, the company behind the Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Tampakan in Southern Mindanao. The on-site "verification" will enable us to see for ourselves how big mining companies operate, especially on their environmental and sustainability programs.

SEEING, BELIEVING. We have a good mix in our team: business and religious leaders, from the academe, private sector representatives,   advocates and stakeholders from Mindanao, mostly from those areas proximate to the Tampakan project.
It's an effort to enable us to verify for ourselves actual situations about mining. "Seeing is believing."


BIG XSTRATA. In my case, I have seen already at close range some mining operations in Mindanao over the years -- big and small, legal and the illegal. But I have yet to see how a giant mining company like Xstrata operates, especially on how it takes care of the environment, performs world-class best practices and prevents catastrophes and "doomsday" scenarios that anti mining sectors use in their campaign.
This way, I will not be speculative nor "shoot from the hip” when I treat these issues myself in my advocacy work. I will share some insights from the trip next time.


JAPAN VS. CHINA. Japan is feeling the economic pinch now due to some market factors in Europe. And most specially, due to its current differences with China over some disputed islands. The controversy even triggered citizens of both countries to do mass and protest actions resulting to the closure of some Japanese companies that were operating in China due to actual physical threats and attacks. Things are turning for the worse.


LOCAL AFTERSHOCK. Our own territorial dispute with China over the Scarborough shoals, among others, is still "simmering,” although a bit quieter now after the issue got "shanghied" by the back channeling controversy involving Malacañang and Sen. Trillanes. I was talking with some banana "growers" from Davao del Norte, especially those who got sucked into the buying spree of Chinese traders and they told me they have not recovered from the so-called "Chinese backlash" up to now. The Chinese are no longer "going bananas" over our Mindanao bananas! Malacañang earlier advised the farmers to look for other markets. Of course, that’s easier said than done. The big players are not too worried but the small ones are. Farmers, especially the small-scale growers, need to get organized and government must be there to provide some safety nets when the going gets rough. That’s what governments are for!

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 06, 2012.


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