Filipino bishop hammers Australian-owned goldmine

Offering praise for the government's economic development plan, a bishop in North Luzon, Philippines, has said that he remains opposed to large-scale mining projects including a joint Australian and Asian gold-copper project in his region.

UCA News reports that several Catholic bishops have responded to a state of the nation address by President Gloria Arroyo by saying they share her economic hopes but certain issues still must be addressed.

President Arroyo's address announced a 200 million peso (A$5.09 million) a month allocation for small irrigation projects, plus another 200 million pesos a month for farm-to-market roads.

She said agribusiness investments are the priority for the neighbouring regions with great agricultural and fisheries potential and also with proximity to North Asia.

Bishop Ramon Villena of the Cagayan Valley, Luzon, in the northeastern tip of the Philippines said he was pleased with the government's plans to develop his region, but opposes any plans for large-scale mining projects.

The Bishop, who is also chair of a regional development council in North Luzon, singled out in particular the joint Australian-Asian Dinkidi gold-copper project in Luzon, approximately 200 km north of Manila, owned by Sydney-based Climax Mining.

Climax Mining, soon to be merged with Oceana Gold, also holds prospective gold and copper exploration portfolio in both Northern Luzon and the Surigao Peninsula area of Northern Mindanao.

The Bishop said he questions the success of government's planned development for North Luzon if it continues to open the region to foreign mining ventures.

"Agribusiness and mining can never marry," he said, expressing his concern about pollution of watershed areas among possible environmental problems.

Bishops Share Arroyo's Hopes, But Echo Unresolved Concerns (UCA News 31/7/06)
DENR to probe illegal mining (ABS-CBN Interactive 21/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Climax Mining (Corporate)
Climax Mining (Google Finance)

Lafayette rejects community claims over spill (CathNews 31/7/06)
Filipino Bishop disappointed over Lafayette mine decision (CathNews 14/6/06)

1 Aug 2006