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Tribal body approves mining operations

Supposed owners cannot prove their title so operations can commence

  • Artemio Dumlao, La Trinidad
  • Philippines
  • April 12, 2012
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The government's National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) yesterday approved drilling operations by a mining company on contested tribal land in the northern Philippine province of Benguet.

The body reversed an earlier order halting for 20 days the operations of Far Southeast Gold Resources, a subsidiary of Philippine miner Lepanto Consolidated Mining.

The NCIP also rejected a petition to stop the mining operation filed by the indigenous peoples group Teeng Di Mankayan.

NCIP lawyer Brian Masweng said the members of the group failed to prove their right over the contested ancestral domain area after they could not show any certificate of ancestral land domain title.

Masweng said the rightful claimants, including village officials and and other groups, have approved the drilling operations.

Masweng asked the mining company to pay an initial US$11,740 commitment bond against any adverse environmental impact of the operations.

Knestor Godino, vice president of Lepanto Mines, assured that the company is only conducting “exploration” activities to reconfirm mine ore locations in the area.

The reconfirmation is required by law for due diligence and to make sure that mining operations would produce good results.

Godino said that with the "encouraging initial finds" in the area, "mine life can further extend to a decade more."
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