The 1996 Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque: Five decades of social injustice and neglect

ABSTRACT: This paper aims (1) to trace back the Marcopper mining disasters in Marinduque, culminating in the 1996 Boac river spill, and point out the negligence of mine companies to take obligations for the damages they have wrought on the island and the inaction of government bodies to secure the rights and welfare of the distressed population at the time. (2) Revisit the affected communities still suffering from the disasters’ aftermath, given that the abandoned mines continue to threaten the inhabitants and degrade Marinduque’s land and aquatic resources. Through the lens of engaged anthropology, the Marcopper mining disasters will be presented through the narratives of mine administration and government bureaus, and counter-narratives of the affected residents. This paper also reverberates the decade-long pleas of Marinduque residents for Placer Dome, now a franchise of Barrick Gold Corporation, to take Marcopper’s corporate obligations of compensating all their victims, rehabilitating the still contaminated river and marine ecosystems, and remove the abandoned Marcopper dams. Most importantly, it calls upon the country’s environmental and legislative bodies to officially declare mining disaster and disaster-prone areas, such as Marinduque province, as ‘mining-free’ zones.

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