MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Sorsogon Seek Help On Cyanide Leak

Published by MAC on 2005-10-28

Sorsogon Seek Help on Cyanide Leak

By Bobby Labalan, Joanna Teressa P. Los Baños,

October 28, 2005

SORSOGON CITY - THE PROVINCIAL Agriculture Office here has sought the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in investigating the reported leakage of cyanide from the mining site of Lafayette Mining Corp. in Barangay Pagcolbon in the island town of Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

Serafin Lacdang, head of the Provincial Fishery Division, said he was informed by residents through text messages quoting the mining company as saying they were told not to use water in the area for fear of contamination.

The leakage occurred on Oct. 11 and it was apparently kept under wraps until Oct. 24, he added.

Officials expressed fears cyanide would contaminate bodies of water around the mining area and eventually reach the Pacific Ocean, which narrowly separates Rapu-Rapu island from this city.

Lacdang said they sought the help of the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR that sent an investigating team to the area earlier.

provincial government is awaiting word from DENR and BFAR on the result of the investigation, Lacdang added.

Rey Juan, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Bicol regional technical director, said in a report faxed to the Inquirer that there was indeed a tailings spill on Oct. 11 after the tailings pump of the Rapu-Rapu mining project malfunctioned.

Mine tailings containing cyanide overflowed from the emergency pond of the mill.

Juan said the spill was reported to his office and he sent men to check on it. He said his office suspended the operations of a machinery in the mill until the tailings pump was repaired.

He said the spill was confined to the mining site and tests of samples, taken from the mouth of the mill’s drainage, were conducted Oct. 22. Test results showed the cyanide level was within tolerable limits, said Juan.

Juan said his office continues to monitor repairs being done on the tailings pump and the mill’s drainage system.

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