Plunderous mining operations in Mindanao continue amid pandemic
Mining companies TVI Resource Development (Phils) Inc. (TVIRD) and Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (AMVI) continue to operate in Zamboanga del Sur and Agusan del Norte last April despite the Covid-19 lockdowns implemented in the provinces. The companies continued to erect structures and position additional mining equipment during the said period.
The TVIRD which manages mining operations in Mt. Balabag in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur is 30% owned by the Canadian multinational Toronto Ventures Incorporated (also known as the TVI Pacific Inc.). The latter also holds an indirect control over the operation of the AMVI in Agusan del Norte as it is 60% owned by the TVIRD.
The said multinational company has been conducting plunderous mining operations in mountains of the the Zamboanga Peninsula for two decades now. It was the first company to be awarded with a mining concession in the country under the Mining Act of 1995.
The TVI Pacific Inc. started its operations in the Philippines in 1998. The company is known as the biggest gold and silver producer and the biggest exporter of copper and zinc concentrate. It seized control over Mt. Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte which is considered sacred by the Subanen Lumad group, and Mt. Balabag in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur. Since the 17th century, the group inhabited the said mountains as part of their ancestral domain.
The entry of TVI Pacific Inc. in Mt. Canatuan resulted in massive devastation. The company opened its first gold and silver processing plant in the mountain in 2004. In its first four years of operation, it was able to produce more than 105 ounces of gold and 1.8 million ounces of silver doré amounting to approximately $86 million.
The mining plant stopped operations in 2014 after depleting minerals in the said mountain. Soldiers of the 44th IB serve as the mining plant’s security forces and are behind the forcible eviction of Subanen Lumads and suppression of their resistance.
After its plunderous operation in Mt. Canatuan, the TVI Pacific Inc. started its operation in Mt. Balabag in 2008. The company used the issuance of Mineral Production Sharing Agreements to encroach in 4,479 hectares of land in Bayog. There are estimates that the area has 210,000 ounces of gold reserves.
In October 2014, the company opened the AMVI along the boundary of Jabonga, Santiago and Tubay in Agusan del Norte. It mines copper and iron which it exports to Korea, Japan, China and Australia.