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Glencore Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, Philippines


The Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in the Philippines, owned by Glencore Xstrata, the Australian Indophil, and the local subsidiary Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI), is one of the largest copper-gold mines in Southeast Asia. It covers a mine area of around 10,000 hectares in in the municipalities of Malungon (Sarangani), Columbio (Sultan Kudarat), Tampakan (South Cotabato) and Kiblawan (Davao del Sur), as well as four provinces in the Davao Region and the Regions XI and XII. The project directly impacts watersheds, around 3,000 hectares of forest, and ancestral domains that are sacred for local populations. An estimate of 5,000 people, mostly indigenous peoples, will have to be re-settled as a consequence of the mining, and many more are likely to be affected. The operations will also endanger food and water sources, impacting living conditions and possibly leading to social unrest. The risks of pollution, erosion, siltation, flash floods, landslides, and other seismic geo-hazards are also very high. For these reasons the Bla’an people and other indigenous tribes have been protesting against the mining project. In response to the strong opposition of local populations, however, military forces and paramilitary groups have been deployed in the area and are acting in defence of the investment. This militarization resulted in the killing of anti-mining and indigenous peoples leaders, and other countless violations of human rights. Juvy Capion and her sons Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 6, were killed in 2012 in an operation mounted by the military in Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur against her husband, Daguel Capion. History of the conflict During the mandate of the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a governmental order was issued, which allowed police, military and paramilitary forces to be employed to defend investments projects that could be threatened by insurgents. This order was the basis for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between SMI and the local governments that created the Special Forces KITACO, in 2008. This MoU legalized the entry of military and paramilitary forces into ancestral Bla’an territory. The repeated entrances of security forces were accompanied by several violations of human rights and the murder of tribal leaders that opposed the investment project. The KITACO forces are composed by private intelligence groups, as well as by personnel of the police and army of the Government of the Philippines. Several local executives and other members of the National Police of the Philippines confirmed that SMI financed their operations in the area affected by the project, unsurprisingly rebranded as KITACO growth Area. The salaries of the private intelligence forces, as well as many of the police forces composing the KITACO Special Forces, for instance, come from the vaults of SMI/Glencore-Xstrata. This militarization of the area not only obstructed the legitimate contestation to the project, but also hampered any possibility of implementing pertinent local regulation prohibiting open-air mining. In 2012 the Department for Internal Affairs and the Justice Department issued an order to the local government of the affected area to revoke this same legislation. This is arguably a violation of the Constitution and the Local Government Code, which since 1991 have delegated power of self-government to the local authorities. This also adds to the incapacity of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples to defend the rights of the Bla’an people, who declared its strong resistance to the Tampakan project. The Commission indeed failed to voice this opposition, and to take any action even after the murders and violence that the Bla’an people suffered.

The role of the Architecture of Impunity The company SMI maintains that it respects and upholds the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. In practice, however, the company uses military force to maintain control of the mining area, and admittedly funds the governmental police forces assigned to the pertinent area. This adds to the co-optation of local development projects and social aid initiatives by the company, which even led the government, in a Kafkaesque move, to award an environmental prize to the transnational mining giant for its actions. This situation is evidence of the diffused influence of the mining company in several governmental agencies that it corrupted, including the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples. Attempts of access to justice To this date, a total of 10 members of local tribes and indigenous people have been murdered. This violent turn, however, has not tamed but strengthened the call of mining-affected communities for the stop of the mining project and the pull out of mining companies from their land. The affected people have no other demand except that the militarization of the area is stopped, and that mining corporations and investors involved stop the project in view of the disastrous human and environmental consequences it could entail.

To voice out their opposition to the project, community leaders and their support groups within different government agencies have been lobbying for its arrest. Several petitions have also been forwarded to show that the majority of the people affected oppose the mining project and international networks of resistance support the Bla’an people in their opposition to it. The London Working group on mining in the Philippines, the Tampakan Forum, and the Dioceses of Marbel, Digos, Kidapawan and Cotabato, have aided in presenting such position at the Office of the Presidency, in Congress, at the Department for Environment and Natural Resources, the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and other pertinent governmental agencies and authorities.

Several studies and assessment on the environmental, social, and Human Rights impact of the mining project have also been realized, and related reports have been submitted to several public offices, as well as widely publicized through the media. In 2002, the Social action centre of the Dioceses of Marbel presented to the UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples a report on the violations of peoples’ and human rights that the Bla’an suffered. Finally, in February 2013 the Commission for National Cultural Communities of the Congress carried out a Parliamentary Hearing assessing the violations of human rights and the consequences of the militarization. Efforts have been made to campaign at international level, including at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights,  especially by Fastenopfer, Franciscans International and  Europe-Center Third World (CETIM). However, until this moment the voice of the people shouting “NO” falls on the deaf ears of those profiting from the project. The company and the government are simply too eager to mine the area and get their money out of the ground. Based on several reports published on these violations, some criminal lawsuits were also filed before the regional Courts and one Military Court. The company, indeed, blatantly violates the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, as well as a whole array of national laws, including the Indigenous Peoples Law and the Local Administration Code. The justice system has nevertheless been slow at best, and generally ineffective to this moment. Several Hearings were carried out without even being duly notified to the affected peoples, hence denying them the opportunity to present relevant evidence to the tribunals. Internationally, there are no regional Human Rights Court that has jurisdiction for the Philippines.

What Justice could do: a say from the PPT In a hearing that was held in Geneva in June 2014, the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) listened to the testimonies of Rene Pamplona of the Social Action Centre Marbel, representing the Bla'an indigenous peoples and the Alyansa Tigil Mina. In line with the evidence brought before the judges by this witness, the Tribunal recognized the actions of the transnational corporation as another example of violations of human and people rights. In line with its full judgement of Madrid, in May 2010, and just a few months before the session that was held in Mexico in December 2014, the PPT underlined once again how transnational corporations, including Glencore and its subsidiary in the Philippines SMI, systematically violate human and peoples’ rights to their own profit. In the same line, the PPT recognized this widespread practice as a current shortcoming of international law, namely the impossibility of accessing justice and obtaining a remedy that is increasingly becoming an unbearable burden for affected communities, as well as for the laws that are supposed to give them shelter. In the same spirit, the PPT acknowledged the necessity to improve international legislation, including through a binding treaty on transnational corporations, and a Peoples’ treaty, in order to hold transnational corporations accountable for their actions. (En Español) Descripción El proyecto Tampakan Copper-Gold en Filipinas, del que son dueños Glencore Xstrata, la Australiana Indophil, y la subsidiaria local Saggitarius mines Inc. (SMI), es uno de los proyectos mineros de oro y cobre mas grandes del Sureste de Asia. El proyecto cubre una área minera de alrededor de 10,000 hectáreas en los municipios de Malungon (Sarangani), Columbio (Sultan Kudarat), Tampakan (South Cotabato) y Kiblawan (Davao del Sur), como también cuatro provincias en la Región Davao y la Regiones XI and XII. El proyecto impacta directamente varias cuencas de agua, alrededor de 3,000 hectáreas de forestas, y también dominios ancestrales que son sagrados por las poblaciones locales. Se estima que alrededor de 5,000 personas, en su mayorías pueblos indígenas, tendrán que ser desplazadas y relocalizadas en consecuencia de las actividades mineras, y se calcula que muchas más serán afectas por las mismas. Las actividades mineras también pondrán en peligro los recursos vitales y las condiciones de vida de las poblaciones locales, en particular sus fuentes de agua y comida, pudiendo resultar pues en situaciones de tensión social. Los riesgos de polución, erosión, contaminación de aguas, aluviones, corrimiento de tierras, derrumbes, y otros riesgos geológicos son asimismo extremadamente altos. Por estas razones el pueblo Bla’an, junto con otros pueblos indígenas y otras tribus, ha estado protestando contra el proyecto minero. En respuesta a la fuerte oposición de poblaciones locales, sin embargo, en la zona hubo un despliegue de fuerzas militares, paramilitares, y de seguridad en defensa de la inversión. La militarización trágicamente resultó en el asesinato de algunos lideres indígenas locales y anti-minería, como también otras muchas violaciones de derechos humanos.

Historia del conflicto Durante el mandato de la Presidenta Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo se dictó una orden gubernamental que permitía emplear a la policía y a fuerzas militares y paramilitares para defender proyectos de inversión contra las insurgencias. Este orden constituyó la base para el Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) firmado entre SMI y los gobiernos locales que en 2008 creó las Fuerzas Especiales KITACO. Este MoU legalizó la entrada de fuerzas militares y paramilitares en el territorio ancestral de los Bla’an. Las repetidas entradas de estas fuerzas fueron acompañadas por numerosas violaciones de derechos humanos, y por el trágico asesinato de algunos lideres tribales que se oponían al proyecto de inversión. Las fuerzas KITACO se componen por grupos privados de inteligencia, como también por personal de la policía y ejercito del Gobierno de Filipinas. Muchos ejecutivos locales y otros miembros de la Policía Local de Filipinas confirmaron que SMI financiaba sus operaciones en el área del proyecto, que incluso fue renombrada como área de crecimiento KITACO. La empresa SMI/Glencore Xstrata pagaba por ejemplo los salarios de las fuerzas de inteligencia privada, pero también los de muchas fuerzas de policía que integraban las Fuerzas Especiales KITACO. Esta militarización del área no solo obstruye la legitima resistencia al proyecto, sino que también impide toda posibilidad de aplicación de la normativa local pertinente que prohíbe la minería al aire libre. En 2012 el Departamento de Asuntos Interiores y el Departamento de Justicia incluso dictaron una orden a las administraciones locales del área afectada para que revocaran dicha normativa. Esto podría ser incluso una violación de la Constitución del País y del Código de Gobierno Local, que a partir de 1991 ha delegado poderes de autogobierno a las autoridades locales. Esto se añade a la incapacidad de la Comisión Nacional para Pueblos Indígenas de defender los derechos del pueblo Bla’an. La Comisión de hecho no transmitió la fuerte oposición del pueblo Bla’an a los forso competentes, y se negó asimismo a tomar cualquiera iniciativa, incluso después de los asesinatos y violencias sufridos por los Bla’an.

El papel de la Arquitectura de Impunidad La empresa SMI sostiene que ella respeta los Principios Guía de Naciones Unidas sobre Derechos Humanos y Empresas. En la practica, sin embargo, la empresa utiliza a fuerzas militares para mantener el control sobre el área minera, y financia reconocidamente las fuerzas de policía gubernamental asignadas al áreas del proyecto. Esto se completa con la apropiación de proyectos de desarrollo local y otras iniciativas sociales por la empresa, situación que llevó el gobierno a galardonar el gigante minero transnacional con un premio para el medioambiente de significado cuanto menos Kafkiano. Esta situación es la prueba de la difusa influencia de la empresa, que alcanza a diversas agencias gubernamentales corruptas, incluida la Comisión Nacional para Pueblos Indígenas.

Intentos de acceso a la justicia Hasta este momento un total de 10 miembros de tribus locales y pueblos indígenas han sido asesinados. Este aumento de la violencia, sin embargo, no hizo más que fortalecer la llamada de las comunidades afectadas por la minería para que el proyecto se pare y las empresas mineras salgan de sus territorios. Los afectados tan solo piden que se pare la militarización del área y que las empresas mineras e inversores involucrados paren su proyecto por los desastrosos efectos sobre las personas y el medioambiente que este implicaría.

Los lideres de las comunidades afectas y algunos grupos que les suportan en agencias gubernamentales han presionado todos los actores involucrados para expresar su oposición al proyecto y pararlo. Muchas peticiones formales han sido enviadas a las autoridades para probar que la mayoría de los afectados está en contra del proyecto, junto con muchas redes internacionales de soporte del pueblo Bla’an en esta resistencia. El London Working Group on mining in the Philippines, el Tampakan Forum, y las Diócesis de Marbel, Digos, Kidapawan y Cotabato, han prestado su ayuda en presentar esta posición a la Oficina de la Presidencia, al Parlamento, al Departamento para el Medioambiente y los Recursos Naturales, a la Comisión Nacional para los Pueblos Indigenas, y otras agencias y autoridades gubernamentales pertinentes.

Se han llevado a cabo también muchos estudios sobre el impacto social, medioambiental, y sobre los derechos humanos del proyecto, y los informes correspondientes se han enviado a varias oficinas publicas, como asimismo publicitado ampliamente a través de los medios de comunicación. En 2002 el Centro de Acción Social de la Diocesis de Marbel presentó al Referente Especial de Naciones Unidas para Pueblos Indígenas un informe sobre las violaciones de los derechos humanos y de los pueblos que sufrieron los Bla’an. En 2013, finalmente, la Comisión Nacional para las Comunidades Culturales llevó a cabo una Audiencia Parlamentaria para averiguar violaciones de derechos humanos y las consecuencias derivadas de la militarización. También hubo esfuerzos a nivel internacional para hacer una campaña en contra de estas violaciones, incluso en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas y en el Forum sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos, especialmente por parte de Fastenopfer, Franciscans International, y el Centro Europa-Tercio Mundo (CETIM). Sin embargo, hasta ahora la voz de los pueblos que gritan “NO” llega a los oídos sordos de los que se benefician de la explotación. El gobierno y la empresa simplemente están demasiado ocupados en sacar su dinero fuera del terreno.

Algunas querellas criminales se han interpuesto en los tribunales generales y en el Tribunal Militar, fundadas en los muchos informes publicados sobre estas violaciones. La empresa ciertamente violó la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, la Declaración de Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, la Convención 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo sobre Pueblos Tribales e Indígenas, y asimismo varias leyes nacionales, incluidas la Ley sobre Pueblos Indígenas y el Código de Administración Local. El sistema de justicia del país, no obstante, se ha revelado lento, y generalmente ineficiente hasta este momento. Muchas audiencias se llevaron a cabo incluso sin notificar propiamente a los afectados, pues negándoles a algunos afectados toda posibilidad de presentar pruebas relevantes. Internacionalmente, por desgracia, no hay un Tribunal de Derechos Humanos que tenga jurisdicción en Filipinas. Lo que la justicia podría hacer: una opinión del TPP En la sesión en Ginebra de junio, 2014, el Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos (TPP) escuchó los testimonios de Rene Pamplona del Centro de Acción Social Marbel, en representación del pueblo indígena Bla’an y del Alyansa Tigil Mina. De acuerdo a lo expuesto ante los jueces del tribunal, éste reconoció las acciones de la corporación transnacional como otro ejemplo de violaciones de derechos humanos y de los pueblos. De acuerdo a la sentencia de Madrid, en mayo de 2010, y unos meses antes de la sesión que tuvo lugar en México en Diciembre 2014, el TPP resaltó de nuevo cómo las corporaciones transnacionales, incluida Glencore, violan sistemáticamente estos derechos para su propio beneficio. El tribunal reconoció en esta extendida práctica la evidente limitación del derecho internacional. La imposibilidad del acceso a la justicia y a obtener remediación está convirtiéndose en una carga cada vez mayor para las comunidades afectadas, así como las leyes que deberían protegerlas. Así mismo, el TPP reconoció la necesidad de mejorar la legislación internacional, incluyendo un tratado vinculante para las corporaciones transnacionales y un Tratado de los Pueblos, para que así estas empresas sean consecuentes con sus acciones.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Glencore Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, Philippines
State or province:South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur
Location of conflict:Municipality of Tampakan, South Cotabato Municipality of Malungon, Sarangani Municipality of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat Municipality of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Copper
Other aggregate metals in the copper and gold ores.

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The proposed mine structure will significantly affect the whole ecosystem of the four provinces especially the supply of water. The Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) shall cut-off the 14-km range including the head water of the Mal-Padada river system. The Fresh Water Dam (FWD) will contain at least 215-million liters of water, cutting the source of the Mal-Padada river system and will directly affect the supply of water to the Manteo-Buayan river system. The Waste Rock Storage Facility (WRSF) that will raise approximately 300 to 400 meters high will be silting the Dalul-Alip river system and will cover the rice fields of Colombio municipality of the hundreds of thousands of silted soil from the Tampakan Mines.

In 2010 it was estimated that the project would deliver 2.9 billion tonnes at 0.51% copper and 0.2g/t gold (at a 0.2% copper cut-off). Based on these ore reserves, the company targets to complete the mining of 15-million tonnes of copper and 17.6-million ounces of gold; an estimate of 375,000 tonnes of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per annum, over a 17-year period. The Tampakan deposit represents the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposit in the South East Asia - Western Pacific Region after Grassberg.

Project area:10,000
Level of Investment:5,200,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,000 directly-impacted people will be displaced; 150,000 farmers whose livelihoods will be at stake; and downstream communities whose water sources will be affected.
Start of the conflict:1995
Company names or state enterprises:Glencore International AG from Switzerland
Glencore-Xstrata from Switzerland
Alsons Group of Companies
Relevant government actors:Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau,
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,
Department of Agriculture,
Armed Forces of the Philippines—Philippine Army
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tampakan Forum, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Popular Peoples Tribunal, Catholic Church (local bishop), Armed rebel groups, Tribal groups (Blaan), Social Action Center of Marbel <>, Alyansa Tigil Mina <>, Philippine Misereor Partnerships Inc <>, Legal Rights Center , Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, Lilak-Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights , Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates <>

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Bla’an community
Forms of mobilization:Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Referendum other local consultations
Land occupation
Boycotts of companies-products
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Presentation to the case to the Permanent Peoples Tribunal
Threats to use arms

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Fostering a culture of peace
Development of alternatives:Alyansa Tigil Mina and supporting groups proposes that the company pull out from Tampakan. The government should support the revitalization of agriculture industry in the province.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Not yet. It is successful only when the mining activities fully stop and when the mining project is closed.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, RA 8371

Mining Act of 1995, RA 7942

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Mining vs Food: Tampakan Case Study

Mining in Tampakan: Intensifying Conflict, Danger in Perpetuity

Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project

Tampakan Fact Finding Mission Report, April 2012

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Blaan leaders to NCIP “No to Tampakan mining, we want non-FPIC Coverage”

Mining in Tampakan: Risks and Alternatives

Tampakan: how to lose money and terrify people

Bishops appeal to stop Tampakan mining project

Tampakan Forum PR: Groups blame mining companies for killings, HRVs in Tampakan: “Their blood is in your hands!”

Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power

Testimony of the case in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing - Corporate Human Rights Violations and Peoples Access to Justice. Geneva, 23 June 2014

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Peoples' Advocacy vis-a-vis Extractive Industries

Action Alert: Soldiers massacre family of anti-mining human rights defender in Tampakan, Southern Philippines (Juvy Capion)

Killer Dam: Xstrata Tampakan

Other documents

Tampakan mine area

Juvy Capion

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Contributor:Alyansa Tigil Mina
Last update23/01/2017



Tampakan mine area


Juvy Capion