by Rey G. Panaligan, Manila Bulletin
Loan to fund mining class suit opposed
Marinduque residents opposed the proposal of Gov. Carmencita Reyes to secure a loan of US$8 million (P400 million) abroad to finance the new class suit the province will file against two mining firms based in Canada.
The province is filing a new case against Placer Dome, Inc. and Barrick Gold Corporation for the alleged environmental damage caused by the operation of Marcopper Mining Corporation, particularly in the towns of Boac and Mogpog.
Marcopper Mining was partly owned by Placer Dome. In 2006, Barrick Gold, the largest gold mining firm in the world, acquired the majority shares of Placer Dome. Both mining firms are based in Canada.
Records showed that in 1996 Marcopper Mining was involved in what was described as the largest mining disasters in the Philippines when the drainage tunnel of large pit fractured and discharged toxic mine waste into the river, damaging villages and crops.
The residents led by the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns and the Marinduque Reform Movement assailed as “disadvantageous to the province” the new deal proposed by Reyes with the United States law firm, Diamond McCarthy, and American lawyer Walter Skipp Scott in connection with the re-filing of the class suit.
“What is more bizarre is the demand of Reyes and Diamond McCarthy for the province to get a loan of $8 million allegedly to finance the legal costs of the litigation and the amount would be advanced by a US financier,” they said.