Mining in the Philippines

In the Philippines and within many communities in the Asia-Pacific region, large-scale mining and agriculture has resulted in the loss of homes and ancestral land of Indigenous peoples.

‘Mining is a global industry and is often located in remote and less-developed areas including many indigenous lands and territories. When managed appropriately, it can create jobs, spur innovation and bring investment and infrastructure at a game-changing scale over long time horizons. If managed poorly, mining can also lead to environmental degradation, displaced populations and increased conflict, among other challenges.’i

The largest indigenous group in the Philippines are known as the Lumad which is a Bisaya term meaning "native" or "indigenous," The Lumad are said to be the original habitants of the island of Mindanao. Although the rights and ancestral lands of Indigenous people in the Philippines are protected by the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act” (IPRA) which was enacted in 1997, many suffer from poverty, human rights violations and displacement from their homelands.ii Mining interests have resulted in the displacement of Lumad and the ‘destruction of their environment, where they get their food and livelihood, practice their traditions and culture and bury their dead. The impact of mining on water bodies, soil, forests and biodiversity within the ancestral domain of the Lumad denies them the right to life.’iii The Lumad are considered to be one of the poorest minority groups in the world who suffer from discrimination and lack of access to adequate and appropriate education and health. According to the United Nations State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the Philippines is one of the countries that facilitated large-scale mining by foreign corporations and other destructive projects, displacing many Lumad communities from their ancestral lands.iv

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) is a collective of Catholic religious, missionary organisations working in the rural areas of the Philippines. The RMP advocate for the rights of the Lumads and speak out against mining. Sister Patricia Fox is an Australian missionary and the former National Coordinator of the RMP. Sr Pat was living and working with the poor and vulnerable in the Philippines for 27 years until recently when she was held and detained by the Philippine Government for joining ‘political activities and anti-government demonstrations’. Sr Pat is now residing in Australia as the renewal of her missionary visa was denied and she is not allowed to visit the Philippines.v

In Pope Francis encyclical Laudato Si’, we are called to recognise that “Many intensive forms of environmental exploitation and degradation not only exhaust the resources which provide local communities with their livelihood, but also undo the social structures which, for a long time, shaped cultural identity and their sense of the meaning of life and community. The disappearance of a culture can be just as serious, or even more serious, than the disappearance of a species of plant or animal.”

At a Vatican gathering in May 2019, Pope Francis reported that indigenous communities in various parts of the world are being pressured into abandoning homelands to make way for mining works that will be undertaken ‘without regard for the degradation of nature and culture’. He spoke about the voracious appetite of companies that extract the greatest amount of materials in the shortest timeframe, with little regard for the waste created. He called upon all stakeholders to have regard for the common good and take active steps to protect the planet for the future generations.



  • Watch these short clips to understand more about the effects of mining in the Philippines.


Gold Mining in the Philippines

Effects of mining on communities in Philippines (Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand)

The Sad Truth About Mining in the Philippines | Heal the Hurt

Philippines shuts down mining operations

Power and poverty in mining-affected indigenous communities – The Philippines (Christian Aid).

Golden Gamble. Gold mining in the Philippines, a dirty business

Lumads – Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, Philippines – are Rising for Revolution!

  • Write to the Australian Mining Companies listed below urging them to respect the human rights and natural environments of the local communities. All three companies have major interests in the Philippines. Use some of the information provided in these resources to compose your letters to the following:

Red 5 Limited

The Company Director

Level 2, 35 Ventnor Avenue,

West Perth WA 6005

Medusa Mining Limited

The Company Director

PO Box 122 South Perth,

Western Australia 6951

Philsaga is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian corporation Medusa Mining Ltd. and one of the top producers of gold in the Philippines in recent years.


The Company Director

PO Box 600 Collins Street West,

Melbourne VIC 8007

Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, an FTAA of Australian company Indophil Resources

NL-Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (now Sagittarius Mines, Inc.)


  1. Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Preliminary Atlas; UNDP
  2. https://globalecco.org/the-lumads
  3. Missionary group decries continued militarization, abduction of rights workers in Mindanao – Sparks Vol 48 no 4; October to December 2017; Official Publication of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
  4. https://www.rappler.com/move-ph/178181-infographic-lumad-indigenous-peoples
  5. https://ruralmissionaries.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/we-will-continue-your-advocacy-sr-pat/