SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
A lawmaker today warned that some 21 mining sites in the country which were already abandoned for years pose a great danger to the environment and lives of the people living in the area.
Rep. Raymond Palatino (Party-list, Kabataan) filed House Resolution 1905 urging the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to assess status of the abandoned or non-operating mines in the country and their impact on the environment and on the health and safety of surrounding populations.
Palatino cited the study made in 2001 by the US-based environmental consultancy firm Tetra Tech EM Inc., identifying the 21 abandoned mining sites which they said pose environmental and health risks.
Tetra Tech EM Inc. identified the abandoned mining sites as Acoje Mining Company, Inc. (AMCI), Sta. Cruz, Zambales ; Barlo Mining Corporation (BMC), Mabini, Pangasinan; Batong Buhay Gold Mines Inc., Pasil, Kalinga; Benguet Corp. – Antamok Mines(BC-BAGO), Itogon, Benguet; Benguet Consolidated Mining Corp. (BCMC), Itogon, Benguet; Benguet Corporation – Dizon Copper/Gold Mines (BCD), San Marcelino, Zambales; Masinloc Chromite Mines – Benguet Corporation (MCM-BC), Masinloc, Zambales; Benguet Exploration Mine (BEM),Tuba, Benguet; Black Mountain Inc. (BMI),Tuba, Benguet; Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) formerly Banahaw Mining and Development Corp., Rosario and Bunawan, Agusan del Sur; CDCP-Basay Mine (CDCP-Basay), Basay, Negros; Ino and Capayang Mines (ICM), Mogpog, Marinduque;
Heritage Mining Corp. Alamag Processing Group, Llorente, Eastern Samar; Hixbar Gold Mining (HIXBAR), Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay; Romblon Marble Mining (RMM),Romblon; Palawan Quicksilver Mines (PQM), Palawan; Philippine Iron Mines (PIM), Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte; Philippine Pyrite Corporation (PPC).Bagacay, Samar; Silica Sand Mine (SSM), Palawan; Surigao Consolidated Mining Co., Inc. (SURICON), Siana and Mapawa, Surigao del Norte; United Paragon Mining Corporation (UPMC), Paracale, Camarines Norte and Vulcan Mining Corporation (VMC), Cordon, Isabela.
Palatino urged the officials of the MGB to update the lawmakers on the large-scale mines in the country that have been shut down due to labor disputes, economic loss and the negative impact on environment and rejected mining applications during the last three decades.
Palatino said none of these mines was rehabilitated right after closure as government regulations during that time lacked the provisions to enforce remediation.
Palatino said Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act which was enacted in 1995 provides guidelines on mine rehabilitation and decommissioning.
"The study shows that land and water in these sites are impacted with chemical contaminants, which may harm human health and the aquatic, terrestrial and wildlife. It also warned that the surrounding population and the receiving environment will be continuously exposed to both chemical and physical risks unless proper mitigation and corrective actions are undertaken," Palatino said.
Palatino said the MGB recently stated that it plans to take over old and abandoned mines, the value of which was initially placed at P88 billion pesos, and declare them as state assets in order to exploit the high prices of metal in the world market.
Palatino said efforts to rehabilitate these abandoned or non-operating mines should be in the framework of protecting the finite mineral resources from more plunder and depletion and the health and safety of nearby communities.
"Instead of tapping these resources to further liberalize our country's mining industry, which for so long has been laid open to foreign and private control, rehabilitation programs should be in line with reorienting the current policy on the ownership, management, and governance of these resources towards a rational manner for national industrialization and local development," Palatino said.