MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippine landslide kills 24 people: was it mining related?

Published by MAC on 2008-09-16

Govt should look at possible links between mining, landslides

GMANews.t

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/119606/Govt-should-look-at-possible-links-between-mining-landslides

11th September 2008

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government should examine a possible connection between a major landslide in Compostela Valley and mineral extraction activities in the area, an anti-mining alliance said.

Since the landslide occurred in an area immediately west of the Philippine Fault System, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said that the government should "immediately suspend mining operations."

The government-through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-should also "conduct an investigation on the possible environmental safeguards that may have been violated" by mining companies, the group said in a statement.

The landslide, which claimed 24 lives and injured 32 residents, "occurred in Masara village," where Apex Mining Corp. and Crew Gold have ongoing operations exploring for gold, copper, silver, zinc and other associated mineral deposits, the group said.

"This is not the first time that a major landslide has claimed lives in the village of Masara," the group said. It added that last year, 10 people died and that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau assessed the area to be high-risk.

"Why are mining operations permitted to continue at the risk of the communities living adjacent to their operations?" the group asked.

Crew Gold, a Philippine-Canadian joint venture, holds nearly three-fourths of shares (72.87 percent) of Apex Mining Corp. In June last year, the company secured government approval to explore and extract minerals in a 1558 hectare area in Maco.

The group claimed that "the project is in the operating/expansion stage, a priority mining project that has disclosed costs of $36.58 million dollars in the period 2004-2007." The statement added that the funds were used for the construction of additional processing facilities.

"This landslide and its possible link with mining operations, is what DENR Sec. Lito Atienza should be minding now. The whole point is urgency and crisis, not political vendetta," Jaybee Garganera, a member of the ATM said. "Just as well, mining tenements all over the country should now be under serious scrutiny following disaster after disaster." - GMANews.TV


Pointing the Finger

ALYANSA TIGIL MINA / PhilDHRRA Press Release

11th September 2008

Non-government Organizations (NGOs) involved in environmental work and sustainable rural development criticized the national government over what it called as irresponsible management of our natural resources in the light of extreme weather disturbances. This was in reference to the latest incident of landslides in the town of Maco, Compostela Valley province.

The entire country is besieged with 2,429 mining applications under processing and 455 approved and registered mining tenement permits covering approximately 500,000 hectares. With flash floods occurring at disturbing regularity, lives and properties are lost leaving more destitute and dead Filipinos.

Jaybee Garganera, the National Coordinator of PHILDHRRA says "this landslide and its possible link with mining operations, is what DENR Sec. Lito Atienza should be minding now. The whole point is urgency and crisis, not political vendetta. The party responsible for felling of the trees in Intramuros should be punished. Just as well, mining tenements all over the country should now be under serious scrutiny following disaster after disaster."

Blas Troy R. Tabaranza, Chief Operating Officer of Haribon Foundation asks, "What is Sec. Atienza doing now after twenty-four (24) residents were killed and thirty-two were reported injured in a landslide in the mining community of Masara, Maco, Compostela Valley. Apologizing for the mining operators? Is this how he strikes a balance among the conflicting concerns of the various stakeholders and the duty of government to improve the quality of life of every Filipino? Are the 61 kilograms of gold extracted, with a sale value of PhP.68.3 million (2007) worth the lives of those lost?"

The landslide occurred in Masara village, which lies immediately west of the Philippine Fault System, where Apex Mining Corp. and Crew Gold have ongoing operations exploring for gold, copper, silver, zinc and other associated mineral deposits. Crew Gold a Philippine-Canadian venture is a major stock holder (72.87%) in Apex mining who is the holder of a mining tenement (MPSA: 234-2007-XI). This tenement covers 1,558 hectares in Maco, Compostela Valley and was approved last June 8, 2007. The project is in the operating/expansion stage, a priority mining project that has disclosed costs of $36.58 million dollars in the period 2004-2007. These funds were principally used for the refurbishment of the existing 500 tons per day plant and design and construction of additional processing facilities. They allegedly gave employment to 1,127 people since October 2007. Maco (Masara) Gold Project is one of the nine new priority projects in operation under the mandate of the new champion for responsible mining as of July 2008. MGB Records show no Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (EPEP).

This is not the first time that a major landslide has claimed lives in the village of Masara. On August last year, 10 people died and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau assessed the area to be high-risk. Why are mining operations permitted to continue at the risk of the communities living adjacent to their operations?

The Alyansa Tigil Mina is now calling on Sec. Lito Atienza to immediately suspend mining operations and conduct an investigation on the possible environmental safeguards that may have been violated or Apex/Crew Mining Corporation may have failed to implement.

Mining companies responsible for such disasters must be made accountable to the families of the victims, as well as to the entire communities whose lives and properties are now in constant threat from man-made and natural calamities.

Mining operations, especially large scale extraction alter natural landscapes by cutting the trees, eroding the topsoil, disturbing ground water tables and diverting waterways thus, compromising people's livelihoods. It will take decades, if not centuries to rehabilitate damaged ecosystems. In the meantime who foots the bill for the 200 families and 5,000 population forced to evacuate - the taxpayer or the gold mining companies? How do you compensate such numbers of people for the violent changes suffered? Is it wise to allow mining in "high risk landslide prone areas"? Would this Canadian Junior player be allowed to operate in such a way in Canada?

References:

Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, PhilDHRRA (0915) 315-37-19 and 426-67-40

[nc@phildhrra.net]

Terence Osorio, Campaign Coordinator, ATM (0917) 845-05-12

[nc.alyansatigilmina@yahoo.com]

Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas 59 C. Salvador Street, Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City, Philippines Tel. No. (632) 436.07.02 / 426.67.40 Fax No. (632) 426.03.85 E-mail: national@phildhrra.org / nc@phildhrra.org Website: www.phildhrra.org


CBCP seeks probe on landslides

Sun Star Manila - http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/man/2008/09/09/news/cbcp.seeks.probe.on.landslides.html

9th September 2008

THE Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday called for an investigation into the landslides in Compostela Valley Province over the weekend, which killed more than 10 people.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), said an investigation should be conducted to give justice to the victims of the tragedy and to identify if the incidents were caused by irresponsible mining.

"The tragedy should be looked into so that we could determine if this incident has something to do with the irresponsible mining in the area that we are opposing," he said.

At the same time, the prelate asked the faithful to pray for the victims and their families.

On the other hand, Pabillo said the CBCP does not automatically discourage small-scale mining operations adding that it should be judged on a case-to-case basis.

Two landslides happened in the town of Maco in Compostela Valley on Saturday and Sunday, resulted in the death of some residents in the area.

Residents there largely depend on gold-mining industry.

Pabillo noted irresponsible large-scale mining should not be allowed by the government as it would be very detrimental to the environment as well as prone to natural calamities such as landslides.

The CBCP is opposing mining activities in many parts of the country, pointing out its bad effects on both the environment and the people.

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