Residents want probe of mine blast before Surigao mudslide

Residents want probe of mine blast before Surigao mudslide

/ 08:14 PM May 18, 2024

Residents want probe of mine blast an hour before Surigao mudslide

The photo of Christian Odtojan on the blasting warning by Greenstone Rescources Corp. which tells passersby that the time was 4:00 pm on May 11, an hour before the mudslide.

SAN FRANCISCO, AGUSAN DEL SUR – Residents of Siana village in Mainit town, Surigao del Norte have asked the government to investigate the possible role of the mine blast inside the mining tenement of Greenstone Resources Corp. (GRC) in the collapse of its tailings storage facility.

The breach brought about a mudslide in the community at around 5 p.m. on May 11 and sent families evacuating to safety.


As of May 13, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) documented 266 displaced families, accounting for 1,033 individuals. Some 241 families were staying in four evacuation centers in Tubod and Mainit towns.


The DSWD further said that 25 houses were totally damaged.

According to GRC motor pool worker Christian Odtojan, an hour before the landslide, they experienced shaking in the community, which they are used to every time the company undertakes blasting.

Odtojan had posted a picture of a GRC bulletin board announcing the scheduled blasting at 4 p.m. on May 11. It was posted at the road crossing between Barangay Dayano in Mainit town and Barangay Cawilan in Tubod town.

Odtojan said the bulletin board is erected just about 600 meters from their village, and he took the picture after he felt a tremor while at home that morning, sensing danger after his older brother told him that the concrete road at Purok Riverside started to crack.

He supposes that the blasting could have contributed to the collapse of the tailings storage facility.

The Odtojan family’s house is among those buried by mud.


Odtojan said when the blasting happened at 4 p.m. on May 11, “all residents in Barangay Siana felt the shaking of the ground, as they usually experienced in the past.”

This reporter called up two GRC officials for reactions to Odtojan’s post, but they did not answer.

However, Larry Heradez, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) – Caraga regional director, said the blastings at the GRC mining tenement is a regular activity.

He refuted Odtojan’s claims that the shockwaves of the blast could be felt in Barangay Siana since it is 1.5 kilometers away from the gold mining company’s open-pit area.

He called the blasting in the mining area as “controlled activity.”

Heradez noted that the height of the backfilled mine waste of the collapsed Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) 3 had a lateral area of 150 meters and 30-40 meters height, but he could not explain if such a mound of mud waste is still safe from a possible slide.

In a statement, the Surigao del Norte provincial government said that at least 239 families or 822 individuals have been displaced by the landslide in Barangay Siana.

The collapse of TSF 3 was attributed to saturation induced by heavy rains in the preceding months, exacerbated by seismic activity in the region. As of now, a team from the MGB is conducting an investigation at GRC’s mine site to further understand the incident, it added.

Heradez said he would leave the outcome of what really happened to the MGB central office probe team sent by Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga.

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The DENR said the probe will cover factors leading to the incident, its impact, the tailings facility’s integrity, and the mine’s safety systems and procedures.

TAGS: mine blast, mudslide, Surigao

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