In 2012, a pregnant woman and two of her children were killed in their own home in Tampakan, South Cotabato province, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Tampakan is the site of a new mine with Australian interests. The woman was the wife of a B'laan tribal leader agitating against the mine.
On Mindanao, vast acreage with high mining potential also happens to be ancestral domain. Lumad, the umbrella term for around 15 ethno-linguistic groups on the island, have over recent years been harassed, displaced and killed by militias, some allegedly with the imprimatur of the Philippine army.
Much of the conflict has passed without notice in Australia, where mining companies are better known in terms of their contribution to revenue, lobbies against climate change policy and their apparent entanglement with elected officials. It makes political discourse lively, but also reflects the pervasive insularity of antipodean debate.
Canadians, by contrast, have long interrogated the implication of Canadian mining companies in human rights and environmental abuses overseas — in academic journals, the media, and parliament.
A well-documented pattern of conflict and despair occurs in parts of the developing world where foreign companies have created a mining boom. It is a phenomenon discernible to the extent that it is named: the resource curse, or the paradox of plenty.
In such disparate countries as Guatemala, Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone (and many others), the presence of foreign-listed mining companies has not translated to better socioeconomic outcomes for the communities in which they operate. The paradox here is that resource-rich regions somehow remain underdeveloped, relative to the countries that avidly consume what they produce.
Domestic corruption and environmental damage goes some way to explaining this injustice, but is only a fraction of the picture. The reality is that even before anything has been dug out, the mere prospect of mining operations destabilises the area.
On Mindanao, Lumad from Bukidnon, Davao del Norte and Surigao del Sur provinces have fled to capital cities by the hundreds, after their leaders were executed and villages militarised. Dulphing Ogan, secretary-general of a confederation of various Mindanao tribes, believes the common denominator is their opposition to mining activities.
Prominent academic and lawyer Tony La Viña agrees. In an uncharacteristically strident editorial, he rejects the narrative of counter-insurgency being peddled by the national government and military.
'The truth is that this is not even principally about the insurgency even if both sides are using the Lumad for propaganda,' he says. 'It's about control of natural resources and ancestral domain.
'I know that because when I was environmental undersecretary in the 1990s, I had to mediate many conflicts in the area and at the bottom of it, it was because military and paramilitary forces were used to expel the Lumad from their domains.'
It was over logging before; now it is mining.
The human costs of conflict derived from resource extraction should feature more prominently when we examine mining, especially where Australian companies are implicated. The chaos unleashed on the Lumad is but one part of the story.
In 2014, around 150 ASX-listed mining companies holding 1500 licenses were active in 33 countries in Africa. There have also been mining-related fatalities and abuses there, documented by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Sovereignty is often used as cover when foreign companies operate in countries with weak governments. Human rights abuses perpetrated by locals are after all the purview of government.
But when private, foreign interests are being protected by the state security apparatus and/or providing an agenda for opportunistic anti-government forces — at the expense of civilians — then ethical issues are raised.
Last year, for example, a Filipino conglomerate bought out one of the Australian companies in the Tampakan project to shield Australian shareholders from 'development risks' concerning the project. There is no such shield for the Lumad.
The principle of consent is also critical to such examination. If indigenous peoples, often the most impoverished in any country, resist the entrance of large-scale mining into their ancestral lands and yet are overpowered, then isn't that tantamount to rape?
Fatima Measham is a Eureka Street consulting editor. She tweets @foomeister and blogs at This is Complicated.
Main image of Lumad protestors courtesy Arkibong Bayan.