Philippines: Mining firm eyes Canadian tribe as model for development

Philippines: Mining firm eyes Canadian tribe as model for development

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January 26, 2007

KORONADAL CITY — A major mining company in Mindanao has set as example an indigenous community in Canada to further entice local tribal communities to support its huge copper and gold venture.

Rolando Doria, Sagittarius Mines Inc. project coordinator, cited the experience of aboriginal group Manitoba in dealing with industrial development in their area.

Sagittarius, now 62.5 percent owned by global mining player Xstrata Queensland Limited or Xstrata Copper, is eyeing world-class mineral deposits in the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

Doria said building long-term partnership between communities and industry is a practical way to alleviate poverty and spur development in the countryside.

His office released a statement recently that quoted Don Clark, who represents the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Secretariat based in Portage, La Prairie in Canada, apparently to inspire local tribal communities living in and near the Tampakan project site.

Clark, a tribal member of the Black River First Nation, said various aboriginal groups in Canada have decided to work closely with the private sector in pursuit of sustainable development in the grassroots.

A tribal community in Manitoba has entered into a partnership with a hydroelectric company, he narrated.

Clark said members of that community own 25 percent of the dam project, situated right inside their own territory.

“Forging meaningful partnerships with industry players, we know we could start to address those issues and really start to invest in our people, and take advantage of our resources in a positive manner,” Clark said.

As indigenous peoples, Clark said, they feel they need to become part of the mainstream economy.

“We need to become active in that role. We need to create greater opportunities for our youth today and our future generations,” he noted.

Clark said ethnic groups, anywhere in the world need not blindly agree to industrial presence in their lands if such corporate practices are questionable, or if such incursions tend to exclude indigenous peoples into the periphery of development.

He said the Manitoba tribe in Canada “have been socially excluded” as a result of cultural assimilation, and have faced various conflicts with government and private industry.

But it is precisely because of such hardships that the tribe decided to empower itself by learning more about industry and how to take advantage of the resources, he said.

“We’ve been able to take advantage of the partnership potential that the resources extraction industry offers our indigenous communities,” Clark said. (BBS)


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