2. And he intends to “talk to the Philippine government to address the matter so that the reputation of the Philippines as an investment site is not tarnished.” Hmm, shades of Rod Watt (another Australian, by the way) bullying no less than Pres. Arroyo herself into granting Lafayette PEZA (tax-exempt) status, doing so after promising tax benefit heavens to naively convinced or greedily willing (or both) local officials at the start of his company's operation in Rapu-Rapu.
3. Mr. Hely also noted the continuing (he failed to note it's widespread) opposition to Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu. Is he lumping now the legitimate expressions of discontent against Lafayette among the security threats to Australian mining interests in the country?
His pronouncements may be a bit understandable considering the beating - economic, political and para-military - Australian mining firms in the country have been dealt with recently. Not that we espouse violence as a solution, but the question has to be asked: Didn't they had it coming, considering the abuse of the environment, corruption of local officials, violations of already flawed mining laws, and other misconduct that most of them have committed time and again?
By these statements, is Mr. Hely really serving the best interest of Australia, or just the best interest of socially-unaccepted Australian mining firms? Looks like Australian miners are the new "ugly American" in the Philippines. And is Mr. Hely their top representative here?
About time green groups storm again with protests the Australian Embassy.
Australian envoy airs security concern in mining operations
By Marianne V. Go
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Australian Ambassador Tony Hely expressed concern yesterday over security threats on the Philippine mining operations of several Australian companies.
In an interview with The STAR, Hely said Australia ’ intends to “talk to the Philippine government to address the matter so that the reputation of the Philippines as an investment site is not tarnished.”
Hely noted that there are a number of Australian investments in the country’s 23 major mining operations.
He said these investments should be viewed as “developmental” investments which are also financing socio-economic projects.
Hely admitted the Australian government has raised concerns over recent security threats to some mining projects with Australian business interest.
The communist New People’s Army (NPA) recently raided the copper-gold mining operations of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, Mindanao .
The NPA attack reportedly resulted in an estimated P12 million in damages to SMI.
SMI is the local subsidiary of Australian mining giant Xstrata Copper.
Xstrata acquired a 62.5-percent controlling interest in the Tampakan project from Indophil Resources NL.
Likewise, Hely also cited the continuing opposition of some environmental and non-government organizations (NGOs) to the mining operation of the Lafayette Mining Group in Rapu-Rapu Island , Albay.
Hely acknowledged that such security threats are a factor in attracting and solidifying more foreign investments in the Philippine mining sector.
Several other Australian mining giants such as BHP Billiton have made initial exploratory investments in some mining projects, but have still not committed in a much more substantial manner.