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Article

31 May 2022

Author:
Electronics Watch

Philippines: Report on human rights & environmental impact if nickel mining at Rio Tuba in Palawan

"Human Rights and Environmental Impact of Nickel Mining at Rio Tuba", May 2022

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The Island of Palawan is home to the largest nickel mines in the Philippines. Mining and related processing have taken place since the 1970’s in this region. The village of Rio Tuba is in the Municipality of Bataraza, Province of Palawan. The Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) started open pit mining in 1975. It is currently the largest producer of lateritic nickel ore2 in the Philippines. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. (SMM) is a Japanese company engaged in development, manufacture and sales of nickel products. [...]

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The main shareholder of RTNMC is Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) with 60% of the shares. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. holds 26% of NAC shares. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. (SMM) also holds 54% of the shares of Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC). Nickel is produced by CBNC through its High-Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) process.4 It is then shipped to refinery plants owned and operated by SMM in Japan, to be refined into battery materials. Some of the most important buyers of SMM battery material are the Japanese electronics company Panasonic and the auto maker Toyota.

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FoE Japan has been monitoring in Rio Tuba continuously since 2006. They have focused on nickel mining operations by RTNMC and hydrometallurgical processing operations by CBNC. [...]

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Residents experienced health issues after plants began operations. The most reported symptoms were coughing and headaches.

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Evidence shows several irregularities in the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding in obtaining free, prior and informed consent of the people for the mining project in Palawan [...]

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A sacred hill where Palawan indigenous people used to gather goods, medicinal herbs and water was turned into a 13-hectare limestone quarry. This is only one example of many of the impacts of mining on the traditional indigenous communities.

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