MANILA – Canadian mining firm TVI announced on Wednesday that, while it applauds the mission and objectives set out in the recently published Rights & Democracy Report, entitled "Human Rights Impact Assessments for Foreign Investment Projects", the company is very critical of the flawed execution of the Philippines Case Study contained in the report.
TVI Pacific voluntarily participated in the Philippines Case Study, as the company is proud of its achievements in advancing human rights in the communities in which it is active in the Philippines.
The company believes that further progress in relation to human rights and the development of indigenous peoples is attainable with the benefit of an open dialogue involving interested parties and constructive input from objective third parties.
TVI Pacific is supportive of the Rights & Democracy goal to develop and test a methodology for human rights impact assessments for foreign investment projects and proposes to adopt a modified Human Rights Impact Assessment Methodology to augment the existing Social Impact Assessment approach for project scoping and development.
However, the Philippines Case Study included in the Report is, in the company's view, seriously flawed and factually incorrect in a number of important respects.
The case study was prepared not directly by Rights & Democracy, but rather by a "research team", which consisted of well-known opponents of the mining industry in general and TVI Pacific's Canatuan project in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province in particular.
Predictably, the case study evidences a biased view of TVI Pacific's operations in the Philippines and completely ignores the positive effects of its numerous initiatives to improve the well-being and standard of living of the indigenous population in the area surrounding its Canatuan mine and its efforts to minimize the environmental impact of mining operations at the area.
"We expect it is more than simple coincidence that the conclusions and recommendations set out in the Philippines Case Study coincide with positions advocated by members of the "research team" over the past decade", noted Cliff James, President and Chief Executive Officer of TVI Pacific.
"Those organizations have consistently taken positions adverse to TVI Pacific over an extended period of time and the Philippines Case Study included in the Report provided them with another forum to propagate their agenda.
A central feature of that agenda is the prevention of new foreign financed mining projects in the Philippines, such as TVI's Canatuan project, and the repeal of the Philippines Mining Act, which certain of the members of the "research team" unsuccessfully challenged before the Philippines courts.
Not surprisingly, the "research team" largely ignored the very positive benefits that our presence in the Philippines has produced in the areas of human rights, health, education, security, employment, standard of living, culture, housing and freedom of association, all of which would be adversely affected if we were to suspend our operations at Canatuan as they wish.
In the report, Rights & Democracy indicated that it is not in a position to verify the facts stated in the case studies and disclaimed responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information set out in those case studies.
Having regard to the ideological and economic agendas of the groups comprising the Philippines "research team", a biased approach to the Philippines Case Study was foreseeable and we are disappointed that Rights & Democracy did not take steps to ensure a balanced, objective approach."
A more objective review of the human rights impact of the project would have included an assessment of the following initiatives introduced by TVI in the following areas:
Right to Health: Including the provision of a hospital; Operation Smile (that repaired a widespread harelip affliction); prevention of maternal and infant mortality; sanitation programs; and many more
Right to Education: Nine company-paid teachers teaching in six schools; 19 college scholars; 12 students receiving educational assistance; have provided schools and classrooms, and school supplies, computers and other instructional materials and equipment, continuing Indigenous People capacity building
Right to Life and Security: The security force has served as a deterrent to attacks from armed groups operating in the area making residents more mobile and safe even at night
Right to Work: Reference the large number of Subanons in active employment; the employment multiplier in the area; the on-the-job and pre-employment training
Right to an Adequate Standard of Living - In addition to wages and employment: the livelihood programs, the entrepreneurial developments, the provision of water, electricity, sanitation, transportation, and more
Right to Culture: Reference the program of Subanon cultural promotion, art workshops, youth camp focusing on cultural promotion, community museum
Right to Self-determination: The representatives of the majority of the indigenous community, supported by the majority, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement that provides a Royalty of 1% of gross revenues and many other benefits and rights
Right to Housing: The company is constructing the new Tanuman village and other housing projects
Respect for the Right of Freedom of Association: Recognition of both new and traditional institutions and the dignity of the indigenous leaders: the Council of Elders, the Siocon Subanon Association Inc., the Siocon Subanon Women's Association Inc., the Community Youth Achievers
It is also important, from a human rights perspective, that the presence of TVI has intensified and is continuing to increase the presence of government and government services in a location where the State was previously absent.
Among the mechanisms to achieve this goal has been a partnership of TVI and the local government to deliver a number of joint projects for the benefit of the community, including a spillway to facilitate transportation to the Municipality, and the promotion of sports and community projects.
”That said,” James said, “our activities are a work-in-progress and we have made significant advances since the time of the study. Our interaction with the Canadian team from Rights and Democracy has strengthened our implementation of rights sensitive programming.“
“In addition, we share the sensitivity of all right-thinking people to the issue of conflict and armed security in Mindanao; we are working to implement the principles of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and we are working in a number of ways to contribute to demilitarization of the region - from the provision of economic development and jobs, to rethinking security management.”
Among other things, TVIRD recently appointed a Vice President of Social Commitment, Feliece I. Yeban, who was previously a professor of Human Rights Education and was once deputy chair of Amnesty International Philippines.
Yeban has complete responsibility for all of TVIRD's social development and community relations initiatives in the Philippines.
The company's social commitments program is being fashioned within a human rights paradigm in keeping with the Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights (the "UN Norms for Business").
TVI Pacific noted that its disappointment with the Report also extends to a failure on the part of Rights & Democracy to uphold its commitment to TVI to provide a draft copy of the Report to the Company for comment, and to arrange a meeting with the Philippines "research team" for discussion, prior to finalization of the Philippines Case Study.
Allowing interested parties to comment on a draft report is also identified as an essential component of the methodology described by Rights & Democracy in the Report.
Step 7 of that methodology, as set out in the Report, reads, in part, as follows: "The draft report will be circulated for comment among all parties.
The nature of unresolved disputes and should be clearly articulated and included in the final report, but the research team maintains responsibility for the final content."
Despite repeated requests, TVI Pacific was not provided with a draft copy of the report for comment, but rather received a copy of the final report on May 28.
TVI Pacific Inc. is a publicly traded Canadian mining company focused on exploring for and producing precious and base metals within district scale systems in Asia.
In the Philippines, TVI's most advanced project, the Canatuan Mine (the first foreign-invested, new, mining project in the Philippines since the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995) began mining and milling operations in mid-2004, producing gold and silver dore through its affiliate TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Ltd. ("TVIRD").
In 2006, TVIRD received a completed NI 43-101 feasibility study on the Canatuan Sulphide project prepared by Norwest Corporation.
The report has been filed with certain securities regulatory authorities in Canada and is available at the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. The Norwest study addresses the copper-zinc bearing massive sulphide zone, or lower portion of the Canatuan Deposit. Construction of the Sulphide Project at Canatuan is now underway.
In addition, TVIRD holds a 2.5% NSR on the Philippine-based Rapu Rapu project operated by Lafayette Mining Ltd. Exploration in the Philippines is being conducted at Canatuan, in an effort to expand TVIRD's mineral resource base and to find new deposits, at Balabag and at other areas which management of TVI view as compelling exploration properties.
TVI also has a Drilling Segment consisting of Exploration Drilling Corporation ("EDCO"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TVI Pacific Inc. based in the Philippines, and Hunan Pacific Drilling ("HPD"), a segment of HPGEI based in China, which generates revenue from contract drilling.