MAC: Mines and Communities

Mine Dam Collapse Threatens To Pollute Mindanao's Rivers

Published by MAC on 2007-07-18
Source: Balita Pinoy

Mine Dam Collapse Threatens to Pollute Mindanao's Rivers

TVI's Sulphide Dam Collapse an Ecological Time Bomb

Balita Pinoy -

18th July 2007

Zamboanga - Mt. Canatuan is again at the center of the news after the Sulphide dam collapsed for the second time this year.

Call it the wrath of nature. Early in the morning of July 11, 2007, with a heavy rainfall and gusting wind, the Sulphide Dam of TVI suddenly collapsed. It was the second time within this year that the dam collapsed. The first was last April 2, 2007

3 eyewitnesses who have been interviewed had seen the whole incident. According to them there are 12 households who are living just 60 meters below the dam.

So far there are no human fatalities but there is a potential danger to the residents who live and get their livelihood from the river and the environment. The contaminated water directly flows to the Canatuan river down to the Siocon river and eventually to the sea.

As of press time there has only one been person directly affected by the collapse of the dam who is a traditional miner. Two days after the collapse, siltation in the river has reached up to 3 meters thick.

Cyanide and mercury is detectable, according to the 3 eye witnesses they can smell a foul odor coming from the flood water which they pressume is caused by harmful chemicals present in the water, though we cannot confirm or validate this for we still waiting to get water samples tested.

The TVI mining company had been forceful in their comments that the dam that they built could withstand any weather condition and that it was perfectly safe. This is in line with their advertisement that they practice responsible mining.

The dam was initially constructed late last year despite the opposition of the Subanen community since it is not part of the 508.3396 hectare covered by the still illicit MPSA of TVI.

Last June 17, 2007, TVI together with the National Commission on Indigenous People regional officers conducted the Free, Prior and Informed Consent process with the Subanen community to get the consent of the Iidigenous People's for the proposed expansion of the company that will cover 4,500 hectares. The Sulphide dam is not covered by the TVI’s “MPSA”. It is part of the proposed area for expansion and is still in the process for application.

At press time, no human casualties were reported. Though the residents near the dam are in grave danger, they do not wish to leave their houses and properties because for them that place is their home, their sanctuary.

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