Filipino tribe protest as billionaire agrees to joint mining venture

Palawan planting upland rice in the Philippines.

Palawan planting upland rice in the Philippines.
© Dario Novellino

Members of a Filipino tribe are protesting after the country’s second richest businessman agreed to enter a joint mining venture on the island of Palawan.

The agreement signed between Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corporation and China’s Jinchuan Group Ltd, furthers plans to mine for nickel on the Palawan’s ancestral land.

MacroAsia and Jinchuan’s joint venture aims to extract up to one million metric tons of nickel ore a year from the tropical Filipino forest of Brooke’s Point.

The area is home to Palawan communities, some of whom have little contact with outsiders. Members of the Palawan tribe who live in the threatened area have consistently opposed mining on their land, which they rely on for planting, hunting and gathering.

Despite this, MacroAsia claims to have received consent from the landowners and is awaiting the next stage of clearance from the government agency responsible for the rights of indigenous peoples (NCIP).

In October, indigenous communities signed a joint resolution calling on the Filipino government to implement the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act fully. They also called on the government to cancel the licenses given to companies, such as MacroAsia, who are encroaching on indigenous ancestral land without consent.