Intervention and plunder by American companies in FSMR

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Attacks against the people of Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR) are being heightened by US imperialism. Along with nonstop landgrabbing and plunder by huge American agribusiness companies, large American mining companies are set to sweep and plunder the rich resources of the region’s mountains.

FSMR’s mineral riches

According to studies, the region possesses rich mineral deposits which are important to industry and world trade. Overall, it holds the biggest copper deposit of up to 2.9 billion metric tons. It also has iron deposits which are estimated to be at 2.5 million metric tons, and gold at 2.275 million metric tons. In addition, there are significant deposits of silver, zinc, lead, manganese and others. Along the borders of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur lies the biggest gold deposit in southeast Asia, also considered to be one of the world’s biggest copper deposits.

This abundance of mineral resources has attracted big local and foreign capitalists to invest in mining projects in the region. Foremost is the Tampakan Gold-Copper Project which is the largest in the country and is valued at $5.9 billion. However, the people have successfully fought and stopped its operations.

Based on May 2022 records, 41 local and foreign companies have been granted 56 concessions in different provinces. These cover a combined area of up to 345,548 hectares or 15.35% of the region. Operations by 15 concessions controlling up to 96,052 hectares have also been approved. There are also 41 other pending concessions covering 249,496 hectares.

Imperialist interests in mining

At least 17 mining companies operating in the region are 100% foreign-owned. Of these, eight are owned by Americans and control concessions covering a total of 53,081 hectares. Among the biggest are Providence Mining, Shamrock Metals, Kalamazoo Mining and Galactica Mining.

Kalamazoo Mining is owned by The Kalamazoo Company in the US. Its operations are based in Australia and has interests in several Southeast Asian countries. Meanwhile, Providence Mining is an American multinational which operates large mines in Africa and North America. Shamrock Metals and Galactica Mining are subsidiaries of big US industries Shamrock System and Galactica Group USA and have different businesses in and outside the US.

The operations of seven of these eight companies are concentrated in Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. These cover most of the southern Daguma Range, Mt. Parker and the large part of T’boli and Mt. Musa towards the borders of South Cotabato and Sarangani. These mountain ranges are among the ancestral lands of the Moros and the Dulangan-Manobo in Sultan Kudarat and the T’boli and B’laan in South Cotabato. These are covered with forests and watershed areas which support the vast agricultural lands of the region.

Secured by the military

Although mining areas have long pockmarked FSMR, widespread scouring of the region’s mountains for mining started only in the 1990s. In tandem with the entry of foreign and local companies, the state intensified military presence to secure these operations.

In the past three decades, the state mounted a bloodly campaign against those opposing the mines. Lumad and Moro communities were attacked, and massacres and killings were carried out. People fought back with widespread and bigger democratic actions and armed resistance. For almost four decades, they successfully resisted the entry of open-pit mining operations in the region.

To subdue the people and pave the way for the mines, the state intesified its violence and attacks in the name of counterinsurgency and “counterterrorism.” The AFP used US-supplied technology, arms and bombs to conduct surveillance and attacks on areas targeted for mining projects.

Currently, focused military operations by the 6th ID and the Joint Task Force Central continue in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. The area is targeted for operations by four giant multinationals which include Mt. Peak Mining, Kalamazoo and Galactica, and Lazarus Corporation from England. Lazarus is a company owned by Dominic Wightman, a known promoter of “counterterrorism and counter-Islamic extremism” in Europe and the US.

Despite the state’s repression and violence, the people in the region continue to fight. The land defense movement of Lumads, Moros and farmers in the countrysides are strengthening anew, together with the anti-mining campaigns in cities. Meanwhile, the masses’ struggle and the armed revolution are reaping victories as they resist the state’s attacks in Sultan Kudarat.

Intervention and plunder by American companies in FSMR