MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Four workers dead, and six missing, in mine pit landslide

Published by MAC on 2020-12-28
Source: Philippine Star, Inquirer (2020-12-23)

Four miners are dead, while six others have been reported missing at Carmen Copper Corporation's mine in Toledo City, Cebu, after a portion of a mining pit of caved in afternoon on Monday 21st December.

The incident followed particularly heavy rains. At least 400 families have also been moved to evacuation centers following the discovery of wide cracks near the mine site.

Carmen copper’s open pit operation halted: Four killed, six missing in landslide

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, The Freeman - https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/cebu-news/bottom-article-list/2020/12/23/2065808/carmen-coppers-open-pit-operation-halted-four-killed-six-missing-landslide

23 December 2020

CEBU, Philippines — Four died and six others are missing as of Tuesday, December 22, after a portion of a mining pit of Carmen Copper Corporation in Toledo City, Cebu caved in afternoon on Monday, December 21.

“The company continues its efforts to locate six more persons missing,” CCC said in a statement.

It has suspended all activities in the mining operations area to ensure the safety of other employees and contractors.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-7 Director Arman Malicse has also served the suspension order to CCC on its open pit operations to pave way for an investigation into the incident.

CCC confirmed the deaths Tuesday morning, hours after rescue efforts began late afternoon on Monday.

Pedro Sepada, Jr., the barangay captain of Biga where the pit is located, said responders retrieved three bodies from the pit around 6 p.m. Monday and retrieved the fourth at 10:30 Tuesday morning.

In a separate statement Monday night, CCCC said the incident was "traceable" to successive days of rain in November “and aggravated by Typhoon Vicky which hit part of the Visayas including Toledo City last Friday December 18, 2020.”

Neil Sanchez, head of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, disagreed. He said the landslide could not be connected to tropical depression Vicky "because eventually, when the incident happened, which was yesterday, gawas naman si Vicky sa PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility).”

CCC did not disclose the names of the victims for the privacy of their families.

Roseller Layan, Toledo City public information officer, said the city government will provide financial assistance to the family of the victims.

Rescue operation

CCC said it is working with the Toledo City government, including the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (LDRRMO) in locating the six missing workers.

"As of this time, we are in close coordination and communication with the affected immediate families and will continue to extend the needed support and assistance. We humbly ask the general public to exercise caution and responsibility in distributing information out of respect to the affected families," CCC’s statement reads.

Police personnel have also been deployed in Barangay Biga to ensure that residents will not go near “ground zero”. The city also coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard as rescuers asked for divers and life boats to access a part of the pit, which has water.

Layan said the search and rescue operation is very challenging considering that there is still minor landslide in the area.

"Very delicate gyud kay sige paman siya og guho. That is our very struggle because the ground is very unstable and we don't want to gamble the lives of our rescuers," he said.

He assured that the city government is on top of the situation.

"I can assure you that Mayor Joy (Perales) is really updated with the incident so that’s why pagkagabii dayon adto, iya dayon gi-instruct ang atong local council para mag-convene para, at least, matabangan namo kon asa nato makita nga makatabang mi. That's why makita ninyo nga naka-posisyon na tanan ang assests sa city government," Layan said.

(I can assure you that Mayor Joy is really updated with the incident so that’s why, on the night after the incident, she asked the city council to convene to discuss what the city can do to help. This is why all our assets are already in place.)

Issues

Meanwhile, Sepada disclosed that they have raised to MGB concerns on CCC’s mining activity but to no avail.

"Dugay na ko ni-complain ani sa MGB pa unya wala pa ni-aksyon nga klaro gud. Dugay na ni kay tungod lage aning ilang pag-mina diri nga walay klarong benching unya wala mosubay gyud sa standard operation sa mina ba, unya nanggrabe na ang pagpangliki sa among barangay. Wala na kaabot sa 300 meters ang distance sa residential area sa amoang barangay,” Sepada said Tuesday.

(I have already complained to MGB but no action was taken. The company has not established proper benching at the pit and they have not been following mining standards, and more cracks have been observed in our barangay. The distance to the residential area has gone below 300 meters.)

He said the last time the barangay sent a letter to MGB, as well as to the mayor and governor’s office, was in November this year but no action was taken just yet.

Labor aspect

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-7 has also sent inspectors to CCC as part of its own investigation.

For its part, the Partido Manggagawa-Cebu said it will open a parallel investigation into the incident, considering that two of the four fatalities, as well as all six missing persons, are members of the union. They are members of the Ilaw-Buklod Manggagawa - United Miners of Carmen Copper - Workers Solidarity Network, a group affiliated with PM.

PM-Cebu said it will check if CCC committed negligence, which led to the incident.

“Dapat anticipated na unta na nila kung magsigi og uwan, naay possibility nga mag-landslide. Why were the safety officers including their third party geology engineering, who manages the slopes, still allowed the workers to work in the area? Wala diay na nila nakita in advance,” said its spokesman, Dennis Derige.

(They should have already anticipated the possibility of a landslide when it rains. Why were the safety officers including their third party geology engineering, who manages the slopes, still allowed the workers to work in the area? Did they not see this in advance?)

CCC has 276 hectares of active mining area out of 1,676 hectares of total operating area.

Currently, Carmen Pit is their only mine operations site.

Carmen Pit is located in Barangay Biga, one of four host barangays, where around 200 union members reside.

CCC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation, which serves as the country's principal producer of copper concentrate.

It ships copper concentrate mainly to smelters in China and Japan, as well as to the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation in Leyte Province. — Mae Fhel K. Gom-os, Le Phyllis F. Antojado /JMO (FREEMAN)


Rescuers shift to search and retrieval for missing miners in collapsed Toledo pit

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter

https://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/356546/search-and-retrieval-begins-in-collapsed-toledo-mining-site

25 December 2020

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Disaster and rescue personnel in Toledo City on December 25, 2020, has shifted to search and retrieval operations for the six miners who remained missing after a landslide occurred in an open-mining site there.

“As of 8:55 a.m. today (December 25), we have officially shifted to doing search and retrieval operations for the remaining missing miners,” John Roseller Layan, information officer of the Toledo City Government, told CDN Digital in a phone interview.

Last December 22, search and rescue operations began for the miners in Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC) after portions of its open-mining site in Barangay Biga collapsed.

At least four died and were identified as Junil S. Lagola, Ernesto G. Caspe, Juan M. Tapang, and Dionisio Labang.

The other six missing miners were Jose B. Carpentero, Jonwel S. Herediano, Simeon B. Laconas, John Paul L. Resuelo, Renante F. Sepada, and Alfred C. Tautho.

But nine hours since they started their search and retrieval operations on December 25, Layan said they have not found any signs that could lead them to the missing miners.

He also said the government and CCC have employed technological means such as deploying drones and establishing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the mining site to aid their search.

“In the event that the mining site would be risky for our personnel to conduct further search and retrieval operations, there are drones and CCTV placed,” said Layan.

Even before the search and retrieval operations began, experts from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas (MGB-7) said chances for the six missing miners to be rescued alive have been slim.

In an earlier report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, officials said the four bodies that had been retrieved may have either died of drowning or hit by debris or rocks when the landslide struck.

Operations in CCC’s mining site have been suspended to give way for the search.

Toledo City is a third-class city located approximately 46 kilometers southwest of Cebu City.


Toledo folk living near mine site evacuated

About 2,000 people move to safer ground following landslide near their village; ground cracks slow down search for 6 workers

Ador Vincent Mayol - Senior Reporter

Philippine Daily Inquirer - https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1377076/toledo-folk-living-near-mine-site-evacuated

29 December 2020

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — At least 400 families living near a landslide-hit mine site in Toledo City will spend New Year’s Day inside evacuation centers after the local government started transferring them to safer ground on Sunday.

Their transfer was ordered as cracks in a mining pit of Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) widened.

Geologists from CCC informed the city government about the wide cracks they discovered near the mining site, prompting local officials to take the necessary measures to prevent any untoward incident.

“This is what we call forced evacuation with the intention to ensure the safety of everyone,” John Roseller Layan, Toledo public information officer, told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

Relocation eyed

On Dec. 21, four mine workers died after a section of the pit collapsed following heavy rain. Six workers remain missing.

Layan said the first batch of evacuees was brought to the covered court of Sitio Hagit in Barangay Biga, a kilometer away from the danger zone.

The villagers will stay at the shelters until the Mines and Geosciences Bureau deemed it safe for them to return home.

But Layan said it was possible that they would be transferred to another area instead of allowing them to live near the mine site. “One option being considered is to relocate them,” he said.

As of Monday, at least 346 families, consisting of 1,820 people, were transferred to the evacuation center. Pedro Sepada, Biga village chief, said the lack of portable toilets, food and water remained a major problem in the site.

‘No choice’

The Department of Social Welfare and Development provided evacuees with packed meals of rice, sardines, beef loaf and water. But Sepada was anxious about the well-being of evacuees as they might acquire cough and colds.

“Some of them were hesitant to transfer to the evacuation center but they have no other choice but to follow the order of the government,” he said. The city government is preparing two additional evacuation centers so residents could observe the health protocols to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“So far, physical distancing is a concern since the evacuation center we have now is small,” Sepada said.

In a statement on Sunday, CCC promised to support the education of the children of its employees who died in the accident and those who were still missing.

It also offered jobs to the victims’ next of kin, spouses and children.

Layan said the Toledo government had deployed K9 dogs, sought assistance from the Philippine Coast Guard, and used sonar equipment to scour the pit’s lake bed for signs of the missing workers.

“It seems that rescuers are doing nothing. But that is not the case here. We just don’t want to endanger the lives of the rescuers especially that huge cracks have been found in the area,” he said.

 

 

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