Thursday, March 31, 2016

Marcopper mining disaster revisited... in Australia

A week ago and twenty years after the 1996 tragedy that had their rivers declared dead, the people of Marinduque, Philippines remembered the Marcopper Mining disaster with the unveiling of a marker. 

Tomorrow (1 April 2016), this environmental catastrophe is revisited during a PSG Seminar featuring Emerson Sanchez, a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra's Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance.  His talk: "After Marcopper: Deliberative prospects of resource governance in a post-mining disaster Philippines"  



Venue: Coombs Ext. Lecture Theatre 1.04, Australian National University, ANU
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Marcopper's surface disposal at Calancan Bay. From Google Earth

In 1996, toxic discharge of the Marcopper Mines on Marinduque Island resulted in the severe contamination of water systems. This was the worst mining-related environmental disaster in the Philippines, and one of the worst in the world. It was a poignant moment that brought about the promise of profound changes in mineral resource governance. 

Various political actors responded differently to the disaster. On the one hand, groups with anti-mining sentiments had a stronger case to support their cause. Some local governments issued a moratorium on mining activities in their areas. 

On the other hand, government regulators revised regulations, hoping that stricter rules could improve mineral resource governance. The mining industry highlighted good practices and carried out a “responsible mining” discourse.

The actions of different political actors suggest that the mining disaster was an unequivocal message to reflect on the way that mineral resources are being governed. With this background, I am interested to see if, years later, mineral resource governance has been moving towards a deliberative direction. 

As a starting point, I will use core deliberative ideals as broad themes for examining the “responsible mining” project of Oceana Gold Corporation (OGC) in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya.  OCG started its exploration in 1994 and secured permits for full operation in 2013. It is a multi-awarded company hailed for its business, technical, sustainability, and ethical practices. Some of these awards were given for its practices in Didipio. However, there has been long-standing opposition from residents and civil society groups to OCG's Didipio mine. This study will focus on the deliberative prospects of OCG's environmental impact assessment and environmental monitoring practices, sustainability/rehabilitation program, and corporate social responsibility program.  
(Abstract, After Marcopper: Deliberative prospects of resource governance in a post-mining disaster Philippines, by Emerson M. Sanchez, PhD candidate, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra)

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