SOMEONE ELSE'S TREASURE - PHILIPPINES
Text and photos by Allan Lissner/PraxisPictures (2008)
BENEATH the 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines, lies one of the world’s largest mineral resources. The Philippines is the second largest gold producer in the world (behind only South Africa), and the third largest copper producer. The countries’ mineral wealth is estimated to be somewhere between US$840billion and US$1trillion.
But the record of large scale mining in the Philippines is nothing short of disastrous. The social and environmental impacts of these mines have clearly not been a priority to the Philippine government, or to the foreign investors who are profiting from these ventures. The extraction of these treasured metals comes at a high price. People who were already marginalized and living in poverty to begin with are losing what they most treasure – families are being torn apart, livelihoods destroyed, ecosystems ruined, and ancient indigenous cultures are being eroded.
The following pictures tell the stories of some of the people in the Philippines whose lives have been affected by the Canadian mining industry. Three different provinces are visited – Benguet, Marinduque, and Oriental Mindoro. In Benguet, Lepanto Consolidated has been operating a gold mine since 1995. Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines holds shares of Lepanto. Marinduque was the site of the worst industrial disaster in Philippine history, where Canadian company Placer Dome operated a copper mine for thirty years. In Oriental Mindoro, Canadian Crew Minerals, who have recently relocated to Norway and changed their name to Intex Resources, has been attempting to open up a nickel mine despite local opposition. Canada, home to about sixty percent of the world’s mining corporations, leads the way in the global mining industry. But some critics have labeled the mining industry as Canada’s number one contribution to global injustice. As the industry continues to shape the world we all live in, it is the hardships endured by the men, women, and children like these that make our way of life possible.