Environmental and other groups yesterday urged the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee to require mining firms to obtain the consent of Aboriginal communities near their mines before starting operations.
The committee met yesterday met to review draft amendments to the Mining Act (礦業法)
The act has drawn criticism since March last year, when the Ministry of Economic Affairs approved Asia Cement Corp’s application to extend the permit for its mine in Hualien County’s Sincheng Township (新城) for 20 years, despite strong opposition from local Aborigines.
Opposition increased when aerial footage taken by documentary filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林), who died in a helicopter crash in Hualien on June 10 last year, showed that the mine had been expanded.
Fifteen days after Chi’s death, more than 7,000 people demonstrated in Taipei to back demands that the government revoke the permit and reform the mining industry.
The Executive Yuan in December last year published its proposed amendments, but the clauses that require Aboriginal participation have been controversial.
“About 80 percent of the nation’s nearly 200 mines are on land owned by Aborigines” so the government should require that mining developers obtain the consent of Aborigines affected by the mines, Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan researcher Huang Ching-ting (黃靖庭) told a news conference in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
The Indigenous Youth Front last week asked the lawmakers representing Aboriginal communities to sign a document promising that they would defend Aborigines’ rights, including their right to know about and give consent to mining projects near their communities, front member Muni, a Rukai, said.
The lawmakers were asked to promise that they would abolish the mining rights of developers that had not obtained the consent of Aboriginal communities, she said.
As of yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), the committee’s convener, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) and New Power Party Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal had signed, Muni said.
However, KMT legislators Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) and Yosi Takun (孔文吉), DPP Legislator Kolas Yotaka and Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) have not signed it, Muni said.
Kawlo, Sra and Kolas are Amis, Yosi is a Sediq and Chin is part Atayal.
As the legislative session is to end on Thursday, the committee is to meet again tomorrow to try to finish reviewing all the draft amendments.
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