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Someone Else’s Treasure

Multimedia: Someone Else’s Treasure – Kisluyan

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High in the mountains of the Philippine island of Mindoro, members of the Alangan tribe live in the village of Kisluyan, on the same land their ancestors have lived on for generations.

Kisluyan is one of 26 indigenous villages that face the threat of displacement by the Mindoro Nickel Project, a proposed open pit nickel mine on their ancestral land.

The Alangan are one of eight indigenous tribes in Mindoro, known collectively as the Mangyan. The Mangyan once occupied the whole island. As more and more settlers began moving to the island, the Mangyan were gradually pushed off the more fertile areas higher and higher into the mountains. Now, with the proposed mine threatening to push them off their mountain, they are left with nowhere to go.

For the Alangan, their land is the very foundation of their identity. Generation after generation, the Mangyan have been taught to care for the land; “we take care of the land, and the land will take care of us.” Many of them believe that disaster will befall them if their sacred lands are desecrated by the proposed nickel mine.

Someone Else's Treasure - Kisluyan

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Someone Else’s Treasure

Someone Else’s Treasure – the Philippines

Multimedia: Someone Else’s Treasure – Guatemala


International Youth Day: the Children from Someone Else’s Treasure

August 12 is the United Nations’ International Youth Day. The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is Sustainability.

Benguet Province, in the Philippines, these are some of the children of the miners working in the Victoria Gold Mine in Mankayan.

Benguet Province, in the Philippines, these are some of the children of the miners working in the Victoria Gold Mine in Mankayan.

According to the UN’s International Youth Day website:

Sustainability does not only refer to maintaining environmental balance and renewal. Sustainability encapsulates three facets of life: the environment, society and the economy. We live our lives in the overlaps and intersections of these facets, and our actions and attitudes help shape them. Their changing shapes in turn affect the way we are able to live our lives. The negative effects of unsustainable behaviour are not easily contained. As has been proven by the global crises in food, the economy and the environment, the concept of the global village has gone beyond being a useful analogy to being a hard reality, making clear the need to adopt a global sense of social responsibility.”

So to go with this years theme, here are some images of some of the children I met while working on Someone Else’s Treasure in the Philippines and Tanzania.  In all the communities I visited people were saying the same things; they questioned the sustainability of the mining projects they lived next to and they were deeply concerned about the consequences their children would be stuck with in the future, among other things.

Benjamin and his son. Benjamin works as a miner in the Victoria Gold Mine. He hates working in the mine but he has no doubts that he is willing to sacrifice himself for his children's futures.

Benjamin and his son. Benjamin works as a miner in the Victoria Gold Mine. He hates working in the mine but he has no doubts that he is willing to sacrifice himself for his children's futures.

Family is everything for the miners here. This is in Caguay'’s home where he proudly displays all the academic and athletic awards that his son, reflected in the mirror, has won. Sadly, even with a university education, there is no guarantee that they will be able to find work.

Family is everything for the miners here. This is in Caguay'’s home where he proudly displays all the academic and athletic awards that his son, reflected in the mirror, has won. Sadly, even with a university education, there is no guarantee that they will be able to find work.

Lilia prepares her daughter for school. Lilia’’s husband, Peter, had worked at the Lepanto mine for seventeen years when all 1,787 workers went on strike in 2005. The workers were on strike for three months demanding better wages, benefits and job security to reflect the dangers of their jobs. Management refused to meet their demands and responded by firing the 19 union leaders behind the strike, including Peter.  With Peter unable to find work now, the burden of supporting the family now falls on the shoulders of his wife Lilia, sitting here with their daughter Trixie. Lilia has no formal education so her prospects are limited. The only real option available to her is to work abroad as one of the millions of Filipino domestic servants employed all over the world. “”I would like very much to work in Canada””, she says, ““it must be like paradise there…do you know anyone who needs a house worker?”” But even in places like Canada, she knows Filipino domestic workers are alone and vulnerable. About one month before this picture was taken, she heard reports about a girl from the neighboring town of Ifugao who was murdered while working as a domestic servant in a mansion in Toronto.  But apart from her personal safety, what troubles Lilia most is the thought of being separated from her family.

Lilia prepares her daughter for school. Lilia’’s husband, Peter, had worked at the Lepanto mine for seventeen years when all 1,787 workers went on strike in 2005. The workers were on strike for three months demanding better wages, benefits and job security to reflect the dangers of their jobs. Management refused to meet their demands and responded by firing the 19 union leaders behind the strike, including Peter. With Peter unable to find work now, the burden of supporting the family now falls on the shoulders of his wife Lilia. Lilia has no formal education so her prospects are limited. The only real option available to her is to work abroad as one of the millions of Filipino migrant workers employed all over the world. “What troubles Lilia most is the thought of being separated from her family.

In the tiny village of Kisluyan, in the Philippine island of Mindoro, the children sit on the thatched roof of one of their homes watching the sun set behind the mountains. Kisluyan is one of 26 indigenous villages that face the threat of displacement if Crew Minerals (now Intex Resources) opens up a nickel mine on their ancestral land.

In the tiny village of Kisluyan, in the Philippine island of Mindoro, children sit on the thatched roof of one of their homes watching the sun set behind the mountains. Kisluyan is one of 26 indigenous Mangyan villages that face the threat of displacement if Crew Minerals (now Intex Resources) opens up a nickel mine on their ancestral land.

The Mangyans, who once occupied the whole island, are peaceful people who shy away from confrontation. As more and more settlers began moving to the island, the Mangyans were gradually pushed higher and higher into the mountains. Now, with the proposed opening of the mine threatening to push them off their land, they are left with nowhere to go.

The Mangyans, who once occupied the whole island, are a peaceful people who shy away from confrontation. As more and more settlers began moving to the island, the Mangyans were gradually pushed higher and higher into the mountains. Now, with the proposed opening of the mine threatening to push them off their land, they are left with nowhere to go where they can continue their traditional way of life.

Living in relative isolation high in the mountains, the Mangyans have done well to hold on to their culture despite increasing external interference. The Mangyan are one of the only indigenous groups in the Philippines that have managed to hold on to their traditional script, which they continue to pass on to their children.  For the Mangyan, their land is the very foundation of their identity. Generation after generation, the Mangyans have been taught to care for their land; “”we take care of the land, and the land will take care of us.””  Many of them worry that disaster will befall them if their lands –– especially their ancestral burial grounds –– are desecrated.

Living in relative isolation high in the mountains, the Mangyans have done well to hold on to their culture despite increasing external interference. For the Mangyan, their land is the very foundation of their identity. Many of them worry that their very existence as a people is at stake.

Although many of the indigenous peoples in the neighboring villages are opposed to the mine, it has proven difficult to organize the groups to show their unified opposition and stand up for their rights. Traditionally the Alangan have been averse to confrontation. Crew has taken advantage by forming their own group to pose as representatives of the affected indigenous communities to sign documents consenting to the mining operations.

Although many of the Mangyan are deeply opposed to the mine, it has proven difficult to organize the groups to show their unified opposition and stand up for their rights. The company has taken advantage of their shy and peaceful nature by forming their own group (made up mostly of their own employees) to pose as representatives of the affected indigenous communities to sign documents consenting to the mining operations.

In the village of Pili, in the Philippines island of Mindoro, a young girl sits back and enjoys the sea breeze. Pili is one of the proposed sites for a processing plant

In the fishing village of Pili, in the Philippines island of Mindoro, a young girl sits back and enjoys the sea breeze. Pili is one of the proposed sites for a processing plant for Crew Resources' (now renamed Intex Resources) proposed nickel mine. Residents fear that the processing plant would pose a serious threat to their livelihoods.

In Pili, young Henry relaxes on his bed largely unaware of his parent's worries.

In the fishing village of Pili, in the Philippines island of Mindoro, young Henry relaxes on his bed largely unaware of his parent's worries. The province of Oriental Mindoro is ranked third as the province which produces the most food in the Philippines, and is known as the “food basket” of the region. The food security of Mindoro is under threat, however, by Crew Minerals’ (now renamed Intex Resources) proposed nickel mine. The proposed mine site is located within a critical watershed area that provides the irrigation for 70% of the province’s vital rice fields and fruit plantations.

Sheila is one of 258 men, women, and children, from Mtakuja village who were displaced in late July 2007 to make way for an expansion of the Geita Gold Mine.  “We were invaded by administration police officers in the middle of the night, who shoved us out of our houses. We were not given even a chance to take our belongings,” laments Abdallah Abedi, a former village executive officer, “we were moved here like people in a war-torn country, and now we are all tucked into a small place like prisoners who have committed the worst of crimes.”

Sheila is one of 258 men, women, and children, from Mtakuja village who were displaced in late July 2007 to make way for an expansion of the Geita Gold Mine. “We were invaded by administration police officers in the middle of the night, who shoved us out of our houses. We were not given even a chance to take our belongings,” laments Abdallah Abedi, a former village executive officer, “we were moved here like people in a war-torn country, and now we are all tucked into a small place like prisoners who have committed the worst of crimes.”

The Luhanga’s were among the thousands of families who had been forcefully evicted in August 1996 to make way for Sutton Resources’ Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, which was bought three years later by Barrick Gold.  According to Barrick’s own report, Social Development Plan for the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, there were anywhere between 30,000 and 400,000 people living in the area before the evictions. The company claims that the people living there were nomadic illegal trespassers. But the communities argue that some of the villages in the area had existed long before colonial days.

In Kahama, Tanzania, the Luhanga children playing in their straw hut. The Luhangas were among the thousands of families who had been forcefully evicted in August 1996 to make way for Sutton Resources’ Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, which was bought three years later by Barrick Gold. According to Barrick’s own report, Social Development Plan for the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, there were anywhere between 30,000 and 400,000 people living in the area before the evictions. The company claims that the people living there were nomadic illegal trespassers. But the communities argue that some of the villages in the area had existed long before colonial days.

This is a water hole in Nyamongo that was built by Barrick Gold near their North Mara Gold mine on behalf of the local communities (the endge of the mine pit can be seen in the top left corner). But the water appears milky and dirty and the plants around the water hole are dying, but this is the only water source available to the community.

This is a water hole in Nyamongo that was built by Barrick Gold near their North Mara Gold mine on behalf of the local communities. But the water appears milky and dirty and the plants around the water hole are dying, but this is the only water source available to the community.

Mabibhi’s granddaughter drinking the water which residents believe has been contaminated. residents report that the water now tastes bitter and smells foul AngloGold claims that they carry out “regular monitoring around the village” and their results do not coincide with the conclusions of Bitala’s study. They point out that any problems may in fact be stemming from the old mine in the same location operated by Germany in colonial times.  Human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu argues that “the description of the deaths and other health problems reported by the villagers of Nyakabale are consistent with the symptoms associated with cyanide poisoning.”

In Geita, Tanzania, Mabibhi’s granddaughter drinks the water which residents believe has been contaminated by the Geita Gold Mine. Residents report that the water now tastes bitter and smells foul. Human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu argues that “the description of the deaths and other health problems reported by the villagers of Nyakabale are consistent with the symptoms associated with cyanide poisoning.”

In Kahama, Tanzania, young Abraham has been feeling sick so he has been bundled up in warm clothes and brought to Deogratios, the village medicine man, for some treatement. Health problems are all too common in the area and residents fear that there may be a connection between their health problems and the contamination of their water sources by nearby gold mines.

In Kahama, Tanzania, young Abraham has been feeling sick so he has been bundled up in warm clothes and brought to Deogratios, the village medicine man, for some treatement. Health problems are all too common in the area and residents fear that there may be a connection between their health problems and the contamination of their water sources by nearby gold mines.

In Geita, Tanzania, near the Geita Gold Mine, a young girl works hard all day collecting wood. With many of the farmers living nearby unable to grow their crops or raise livestock due to the contaminated water

In Geita, Tanzania, near the Geita Gold Mine, a young girl works hard all day collecting wood. With many of the farmers living nearby facing increasing difficulties growing their crops or raising livestock due to the contaminated water, families cannot afford to send all their children to school. So many of the youngest children, especially girls, have to find work to contribute to the families income. This has led many critics in Tanzania to argue that multinational mining has contributed significantly to impoverishing the rural poor.

For more information:

Someone Else’s Treasure – Introduction
Someone Else’s Treasure – The Philippines
Someone Else’s Treasure – Tanzania


Someone Else’s Treasure – the Philippines

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 contains the third largest gold deposits; they are the third largest copper producer, with the fourth largest copper deposits. The countries’ mineral wealth is estimated to be somewhere between US$840billion and US$1trillion. In 1995, the Philippine government liberalized the mining industry in an attempt to attract foreign investment. The new laws allowed for 100% foreign ownership of mining projects; foreign companies are offered generous tax-holidays; and given priority access to water resources. The companies are also given easement rights ensuring the removal of all “obstacles” to mining, including farms, settlements, and indigenous communities.

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.

Trixie looks down at the tailings dam for the Lepanto gold mine in the province of Benguet, where the toxic waste from the mining process are dumped at a rate ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 metric tons per day. This is the third dam built here after the previous two collapsed. According to a fact-finding mission led by British MP Clare Short, as of 2003, there had been 16 serious tailings dam failures in the Philippines in the past twenty years. Additionally, over eight hundred mine sites have been abandoned and have never been cleaned up. Cleanup costs are estimated in the billions of dollars and the damages caused are irreversible. This particular dam has been completely inadequate against the torrential downpour during the yearly rainy season and is especially vulnerable to earthquakes as Benguet is directly above a fault line. For years the chemicals have been leaking out into the nearby river systems.

Trixie looks down at the tailings dam for the Lepanto gold mine in the province of Benguet, where the toxic waste from the mining process are dumped at a rate ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 metric tons per day. This is the third dam built here after the previous two collapsed.

According to a fact-finding mission led by British MP Clare Short, as of 2003, there had been 16 serious tailings dam failures in the Philippines in the past twenty years. Additionally, over eight hundred mine sites have been abandoned and have never been cleaned up. Cleanup costs are estimated in the billions of dollars and the damages caused are irreversible.

This particular dam has been completely inadequate against the torrential downpour during the yearly rainy season and is especially vulnerable to earthquakes as Benguet is directly above a fault line. For years the chemicals have been leaking out into the nearby river systems.

Just a few meters past the dam, contaminated water (left) - carrying with it cyanide, lead, copper, and mercury - joins together with the clean water (right) coming from the mountain springs into the river system.  Many mining sites in the Philippines are located in the mountains that act as watersheds for the surrounding river systems, which poses serious threats to those living downstream from the mines. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, contaminated water from mining operations poses one of the top three ecological security threats in the world. The dangers surrounding mining are exacerbated in the Philippines by the additional risks from the high rainfalls, frequent typhoons and earthquakes, all of which increase the strain on the tailings dams making leaks almost inevitable.

Just a few meters past the dam, contaminated water (left) – carrying with it cyanide, lead, copper, and mercury – joins together with the clean water (right) coming from the mountain springs into the river system.

Many mining sites in the Philippines are located in the mountains that act as watersheds for the surrounding river systems, which poses serious threats to those living downstream from the mines.

The dangers surrounding mining are exacerbated in the Philippines by the additional risks from the high rainfalls, frequent typhoons and earthquakes, all of which increase the strain on the tailings dams making leaks almost inevitable.

In Cervantes, a few kilometers down river from Lepanto’s gold mine, Suley sits in the middle of her barren farm which has been contaminated by the toxic chemicals that have leaked out of the tailings dam and into the river system. Her farm has been barren for ten years now. “If it wasn’t for the mine, we would be living a good life”, she says, “but now, life is very hard.” Before, Suley’s abundant farm more than adequately provided for her entire extended family. Now they are barely able to provide for their basic needs. Every year they try replanting fresh seeds hoping that the soil will eventually regenerate. They will do so again this year, but after ten years, nothing has changed. According to the Save The Abra River Movement, the siltation and toxic pollution of the rivers deprives communities in Cervantes of about 7.33 million kg of rice worth US$2.27 million per annum.

In Cervantes, a few kilometers down river from Lepanto’s gold mine, Suley sits in the middle of her barren farm which has been contaminated by the toxic chemicals that have leaked out of the tailings dam and into the river system. Her farm has been barren for ten years now.

““If it wasn’t for the mine, we would be living a good life”,” she says, ““but now, life is very hard.”

” Before, Suley’s abundant farm more than adequately provided for her entire extended family. Now they are barely able to provide for their basic needs. Every year they try replanting fresh seeds hoping that the soil will eventually regenerate. They will do so again this year, but after ten years, nothing has changed.

According to the Save The Abra River Movement, the siltation and toxic pollution of the rivers deprives communities in Cervantes of about 7.33 million kg of rice worth US$2.27 million per annum.

Remy washes her laundry in the poisoned Mogpog River in Marinduque. In 1993 one of the tailings dams of Placer Dome’s copper mine burst sending tons of mine waste raging down the river in a flash flood sweeping away homes, people and livestock. Three years later a second collapse sent waste in the opposite direction destroying the Boac river. Fifteen years on both rivers remain biologically dead and contain dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. Dead trees and other debris can still be seen all along the rivers. But people here have no other water sources to rely on. The company continues to deny any responsibility for what was the worst industrial disaster in Philippine history. After being ordered by the government to clean up their mess, the company responded by packing their bags and sneaking out of the country.

Remy washes her laundry in the poisoned Mogpog River in Marinduque. In 1993 one of the tailings dams of Placer Dome’s copper mine burst sending tons of mine waste raging down the river in a flash flood sweeping away homes, people and livestock. Three years later a second collapse sent waste in the opposite direction destroying the Boac river. Fifteen years on both rivers remain biologically dead and contain dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. Dead trees and other debris can still be seen all along the rivers. But people here have no other water sources to rely on.

The company continues to deny any responsibility for what was the worst industrial disaster in Philippine history. After being ordered by the government to clean up their mess, the company responded by packing their bags and sneaking out of the country.

“Imagine...being forced into a situation where you lived in a house...and a contractor puts a huge swimming pool up on your roof. You then suddenly  receive a secret report that says the roof can cave in at any time and the water can drown you and your children who live below!...How would you feel if you had no other place to live? If you feel desperate, you have just put yourselves in the shoes of...almost 100,000 villagers in my home province of Marinduque.” - Congressman Edmund Reyes from Marinduque.  The San Antonio Pit contains millions of tons of mine waste being held back by failing dams. According to a leaked document from Placer Dome’s own environmental consultants, “failure of the dam is a virtual certainty in the near term”. When the Philippine government ordered Placer Dome to make the necessary repairs, and clean up the mess from two previous dam failures or face criminal charges, Placer Dome responded by pulling out personnel from the Philippines without a word to anyone.

“”Imagine…being forced into a situation where you lived in a house…and a contractor puts a huge swimming pool up on your roof. You then suddenly receive a secret report that says the roof can cave in at any time and the water can drown you and your children who live below!…How would you feel if you had no other place to live? If you feel desperate, you have just put yourselves in the shoes of…almost 100,000 villagers in my home province of Marinduque.””  -  Congressman Edmund Reyes from Marinduque.

The San Antonio Pit contains millions of tons of mine waste being held back by failing dams. According to a leaked document from Placer Dome’s own environmental consultants, “failure of the dam is a virtual certainty in the near term”. When the Philippine government ordered Placer Dome to make the necessary repairs, and clean up the mess from two previous dam failures or face criminal charges, Placer Dome responded by pulling out personnel from the Philippines without a word to anyone.

“It’s just a picture, it won’t change anything. I can’t ask you to do this”  “I want to. Look, the dam could break at any time, maybe next week, maybe tomorrow, I don’t know. But I do know that when it does happen, my house and my family will probably be destroyed. And just like last time, the company will deny responsibility. I want that picture to exist, so that people can know what happened. For that, I would be willing to sacrifice myself.”   With that a brave Marinduqueño, D., snuck a photographer in the back of a truck into Placer Dome’s old copper mine, successfully evading the armed guards still protecting the property. Here D stands in front of the San Antonio Pit, containing the millions of tons of mine waste which will eventually come crashing down on his home. His desire to put himself in harms way for the sake of this documentation is a stronger testament to the anxiety Marinduqueños have to live with every day than any picture can offer.
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“Look, that dam could break at any time, maybe next week, maybe tomorrow, I don’t know. But I do know that when it does happen, my house and my family will probably be destroyed. And just like last time, the company will deny responsibility. I want that picture to exist, so that people can know what happened. For that, I would be willing to sacrifice myself.””

With that a brave Marinduqueño snuck a photographer in the back of a truck into Placer Dome’s old copper mine, successfully evading the armed guards still protecting the property. Here D stands in front of the San Antonio Pit, containing the millions of tons of mine waste which will eventually come crashing down on his home. His determination to put himself in harms way for the sake of this documentation is a stronger testament to the anxiety Marinduqueños have to live with than any picture can offer.

Eighty years old, Thomas used to bathe in the Mogpog river every day when he was younger. His body is now covered with skin discolouration which he started developing about forty years ago when Placer Dome’s mine was in full operation. Marinduque has never been able to afford conducting a full medical survey of the island, but smaller studies have shown that, of 59 children tested, every one of them had unacceptable levels of lead in their blood, and a quarter of them had dangerous levels of cyanide in their blood. Soil and air samples also showed unacceptable levels of dangerous chemicals. When Placer Dome left Marinduque, they left behind them the mess from years of dumping mine waste into Calancan Bay; the island’s two main rivers of Mogpog and Boac were poisoned by separate dam collapses in 1993 and 1996; a population suffering from heavy metal contamination; stripped forests; and a nine-hole golf course. The province never saw a single centavo of the profits that Placer Dome raked in. When the first dam collapsed in 1993, the flash flood of toxic waste swept away Thomas’ treasured cow and he nearly drowned. With the San Antonio Pit now on the verge of collapse, Thomas knows that his home will be one of the first ones swept under by the coming flash floods, but he has nowhere else go. With his already deteriorating health, he stands little chance of surviving.

Eighty years old, Thomas used to bathe in the Mogpog river every day when he was younger. His body is now covered with skin discolouration which he started developing about forty years ago when Placer Dome’s mine was in full operation.

Marinduque has never been able to afford conducting a full medical survey of the island, but smaller studies have shown that, of 59 children tested, every one of them had unacceptable levels of lead in their blood, and a quarter of them had dangerous levels of cyanide in their blood. Soil and air samples also showed unacceptable levels of dangerous chemicals.

When Placer Dome left Marinduque, they left behind them the mess from years of dumping mine waste into Calancan Bay; the island’s two main rivers of Mogpog and Boac were poisoned by separate dam collapses in 1993 and 1996; a population suffering from heavy metal contamination; stripped forests; and a nine-hole golf course. The province never saw a single centavo of the profits that Placer Dome raked in.

When the first dam collapsed in 1993, the flash flood of toxic waste swept away Thomas’ treasured cow and he nearly drowned. With the San Antonio Pit now on the verge of collapse, Thomas knows that his home will be one of the first ones swept under by the coming flash floods, but he has nowhere else go. With his already deteriorating health, he stands little chance of surviving.

Wilson was a fisherman living in Calancan Bay in Marinduque where Placer Dome used to dump its mine waste.  Over a period of sixteen years, Placer Dome dumped 200million tons of mine waste into the shallow coral-rich bay despite vocal opposition from the community.  The president of the company, John Dodge, continues to maintain that the fishermen of Calancan Bay “have not suffered in any way because of the tailings disposal.” Before, most of the 15,000 villagers in the area made a living from fishing in the bay for a few hours every other day.  Now, there are more fishermen than fish, and the men have to go far out to sea everyday. One day many years ago Wilson went out into the bay with a small cut in his leg.  As a result, Wilson suffered from mercury poisoning rendering his legs useless. One leg has been amputated,  the other one will have to come off as well.

Wilson was a fisherman living in Calancan Bay in Marinduque where Placer Dome used to dump its mine waste. Over a period of sixteen years, Placer Dome dumped 200million tons of mine waste into the shallow coral-rich bay despite vocal opposition from the community. Many years ago Wilson went out into the bay with a small cut in his leg. As a result, Wilson suffered from mercury poisoning rendering his legs useless. One leg has been amputated, the other one will have to come off as well.

The president of the company, John Dodge, continues to maintain that “the fishermen of Calancan Bay “have not suffered in any way because of the tailings disposal.””

Before, most of the 15,000 villagers in the area made a living from fishing in the bay for a few hours every other day. Now, there are more fishermen than fish, and the men have to go far out to sea everyday.

In Pili, Mindoro, Henry (second left) and his family enjoy a meal consisting of rice, fish and vegetables. The province of Oriental Mindoro is ranked third as the province which produces the most food in the Philippines, and is known as the “food basket” of the southern Luzon region. The food security of Mindoro is under threat, however, by Crew Minerals’ (now Intex Resources) proposed nickel mine. The proposed mine site is located within a critical watershed area that provides the irrigation for 70% of the province’s vital rice fields and fruit plantations. Despite widespread opposition to the mine from all levels of the local population, the company maintains that the local population welcomes the project. Crew has lied to the people of Mindoro by claiming that the proposed method of submarine tailings disposal is environmentally safe and practiced in their home country Canada, when in fact this method is banned in Canada.

In Pili, Mindoro, Henry (second left) and his family enjoy a meal consisting of rice, fish and vegetables. The province of Oriental Mindoro is ranked third as the province which produces the most food in the Philippines, and is known as the “food basket” of the southern Luzon region.

The food security of Mindoro is under threat, however, by Crew Minerals’ (now Intex Resources) proposed nickel mine. The proposed mine site is located within a critical watershed area that provides the irrigation for 70% of the province’s vital rice fields and fruit plantations.

Ramon, of the Alangan tribe  in the village of Kisluyan, in Mindoro. Kisluyan is one of 26 indigenous villages that face the threat of displacement if Crew Minerals (now Intex Resources) opens up a nickel mine on their ancestral land. Although many of the indigenous peoples in the neighboring villages are opposed to the mine, it has proven difficult to organize the groups to show their unified opposition and stand up for their rights. Traditionally the Alangan have been averse to confrontation. Crew has taken advantage by forming their own group to pose as representatives of the affected indigenous communities to sign documents consenting to the mining operations.

Ramon, of the Alangan tribe in the village of Kisluyan, in Mindoro. Kisluyan is one of 26 indigenous villages that face the threat of displacement if Crew Minerals (now Intex Resources) opens up a nickel mine on their ancestral land. Although many of the indigenous peoples in the neighboring villages are opposed to the mine, it has proven difficult to organize the groups to show their unified opposition and stand up for their rights. Traditionally the Alangan have been averse to confrontation. Crew has taken advantage by forming their own group to pose as representatives of the affected indigenous communities to sign documents consenting to the mining operations.

Luningning, of the Alangan tribe, with her granddaughter in the village of Kisluyan. The Alangan are one of 8 indigenous tribes in Mindoro, known collectively as the Mangyans. The Mangyans, who once occupied the whole island, are peaceful people who shy away from confrontation. As more and more settlers began moving to the island, the Mangyans were gradually pushed higher and higher into the mountains. Now, with the proposed opening of the mine threatening to push them off their land, they are left with nowhere to go.

Luningning, of the Alangan tribe, with her granddaughter in the village of Kisluyan. The Alangan are one of 8 indigenous tribes in Mindoro, known collectively as the Mangyans. The Mangyans, who once occupied the whole island, are peaceful people who shy away from confrontation. As more and more settlers began moving to the island, the Mangyans were gradually pushed higher and higher into the mountains. Now, with the proposed opening of the mine threatening to push them off their land, they are left with nowhere to go.

Maximo is the oldest member of Kisluyan and the acknowledged leader of the community.  Maximo’s biggest worry is for the future generations. Living in relative isolation high in the mountains, the Mangyans have done well to hold on to their culture despite increasing external interference. The Mangyan are one of the only indigenous groups in the Philippines that have managed to hold on to their traditional script, which they continue to pass on to their children. For the Mangyan, their land is the very foundation of their identity. Generation after generation, the Mangyans have been taught to care for their land; “we take care of the land, and the land will take care of us.”  Deeply superstitious, many of them worry that disaster will befall them if their lands – especially their ancestral burial grounds – are desecrated.

Maximo is the oldest member of Kisluyan and the acknowledged leader of the community. Maximo’s biggest worry is for the future generations. Living in relative isolation high in the mountains, the Mangyans have done well to hold on to their culture despite increasing external interference. The Mangyan are one of the only indigenous groups in the Philippines that have managed to hold on to their traditional script, which they continue to pass on to their children.

For the Mangyan, their land is the very foundation of their identity. Generation after generation, the Mangyans have been taught to care for their land; “”we take care of the land, and the land will take care of us.””

Many of them worry that disaster will befall them if their lands –– especially their ancestral burial grounds –– are desecrated.

Stoking the flames, Jeff is a community activist working for ALAMIN (Alliance against the mine), a broad coalition of Mindoreños united in their opposition to the nickel project. ALAMIN has organized numerous peaceful demonstrations to show their opposition. However, members and supporters of ALAMIN have been subject to intimidation and have even been accused of being dissident-terrorists. The Philippines is one of the hot spots of the so-called global “War on Terror,” so such accusations are not to be taken lightly. As documented by Amnesty International and the United Nations, human rights abuses have been reported all across the Philippines against legitimate political and environmental activists. Since the current administration of President Gloria Makapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001, there have been over 700 reported extra judicial killings of such activists.

Stoking the flames, Jeff is a community activist working for ALAMIN (Alliance against the mine), a broad coalition of Mindoreños united in their opposition to the nickel project. ALAMIN has organized numerous peaceful demonstrations to show their opposition.

However, members and supporters of ALAMIN have been subject to intimidation and have even been accused of being dissident-terrorists. The Philippines is one of the hot spots of the so-called global “War on Terror,” so such accusations are not to be taken lightly. As documented by Amnesty International and the United Nations, human rights abuses have been reported all across the Philippines against legitimate political and environmental activists. Since the current administration of President Gloria Makapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001, there have been over 700 reported extra judicial killings of such activists.

Albert has worked in the Lepanto mine for fifteen years trying to support his family of ten. But his wages are not enough to support all of them so his wife has had to leave for the city with their four oldest children to sell fruit in the market. Many of the men risking their lives underground say they feel exploited as they struggle to provide for their families while the company profits in the millions. The miners have no masks to protect them from chemicals and dust, they work wearing nothing but helmets, boots, and briefs, and have to pay for their own treatment when they fall ill. But Albert has no doubt that it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make. “My family”, he says, “are my inspiration.” Together with his wife, they are putting their children through school in the hope that they will have better lives.  It is this hope that gets him out of bed every morning to go back underground.

Albert has worked for Lepanto for fifteen years trying to support his family of ten. But his wages are not enough to support all of them so his wife has had to leave for the city with their four oldest children to sell fruit in the market.

Many of the men risking their lives underground say they feel exploited as they struggle to provide for their families while the company profits in the millions. The miners have no masks to protect them from chemicals and dust, they work wearing nothing but helmets, boots, and briefs (because of the heat underground), and they have to pay for their own treatment when they fall ill.

But Albert has no doubt that it’s a sacrifice he’ is willing to make. ““My family””, he says, “”are my inspiration.”” Together with his wife, they are putting their children through school in the hope that they will have better lives. It is this hope that gets him out of bed every morning to go back underground.

Lilia’s husband, Peter, had worked at the Lepanto mine for seventeen years when all 1,787 workers went on strike in 2005. The workers were on strike for three months demanding better wages, benefits and job security to reflect the dangers of their jobs. Management refused to meet their demands and responded by firing the 19 union leaders behind the strike, including Peter.  After lengthy negotiations, the 19 union leaders eventually accepted their dismissals in exchange for the reinstatement of the other striking workers. The labour disputes have been ongoing  with workers complaining that the company often delays or withholds their salaries to control them. Peter has been trying to find a new job without any luck for two years and recurring health problems have been making his job hunt increasingly difficult. With Peter unable to find work, the burden of supporting the family now falls on the shoulders of his wife Lilia, sitting here with their daughter Trixie. Lilia has no formal education so her prospects are limited. The only real option available to her is to work abroad as one of the millions of Filipino domestic servants employed all over the world. “I would like very much to work in Canada”, she says, “it must be like paradise there...do you know anyone who needs a house worker?” But even in places like Canada, she knows Filipino domestic workers are alone and vulnerable. About a month before this picture was taken, she heard reports about a girl from the neighboring town of Ifugao who was murdered while working as a domestic servant in a mansion in Toronto. But apart from her personal safety, what troubles Lilia most is the thought of being separated from her family.

Lilia’’s husband, Peter, had worked at the Lepanto mine for seventeen years when all 1,787 workers went on strike in 2005. The workers were on strike for three months demanding better wages, benefits and job security to reflect the dangers of their jobs. Management refused to meet their demands and responded by firing the 19 union leaders behind the strike, including Peter.

With Peter unable to find work now, the burden of supporting the family now falls on the shoulders of his wife Lilia, sitting here with their daughter Trixie. Lilia has no formal education so her prospects are limited. The only real option available to her is to work abroad as one of the millions of Filipino domestic servants employed all over the world. “”I would like very much to work in Canada””, she says, ““it must be like paradise there…do you know anyone who needs a house worker?”” But even in places like Canada, she knows Filipino domestic workers are alone and vulnerable. About one month before this picture was taken, she heard reports about a girl from the neighboring town of Ifugao who was murdered while working as a domestic servant in a mansion in Toronto.

But apart from her personal safety, what troubles Lilia most is the thought of being separated from her family.

As the sun sets over the mountains of Benguet province, Lilia and Trixie walk along Lepanto’s airport runway near their home where all the gold is flown out of the province. The pattern has been repeated many times across the Philippines; the companies come in promising to bring with them jobs, development and prosperity. In reality, the experiences of the people of the Philippines show that large-scale corporate mining destroys, pollutes, and disrupts agricultural economies, and displaces indigenous peoples. While the mines do generate a great deal of wealth, local communities rarely see any of it. The global demand for these metals have been skyrocketing, and the mining industry is booming. Yet, in places like the Philippines where these metals are found, the effects will be felt for generations. Families are being torn apart, indigenous cultures are being eroded, livelihoods lost, and ecosystems destroyed – all for someone else’s treasure.

As the sun sets over the mountains of Benguet province, Lilia and Trixie walk along Lepanto’s airport runway near their home where all the gold is flown out of the province.

The pattern has been repeated many times across the Philippines; the companies come in promising to bring with them jobs, development and prosperity. In reality, the experiences of the people of the Philippines show that large-scale corporate mining destroys, pollutes, and disrupts agricultural economies, and displaces indigenous peoples.

While the mines do generate a great deal of wealth, local communities rarely see any of it. The global demand for these metals have been skyrocketing, and the mining industry is booming. Yet, in places like the Philippines where these metals are found, the effects will be felt for generations. Families are being torn apart, indigenous cultures are being eroded, livelihoods lost, and ecosystems destroyed –– all for someone else’s treasure.