Environmental group opposes large-scale Batangas mining project
Citing harmful effects to marine biodiversity, an environmental group on Tuesday protested the impending large-scale mining project of an Australian-Canadian firm in Batangas before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In a statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the large-scale operation of MRL Gold-Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. in the municipality of Lobo would not only affect the biodiversity in the area, but also the Verde Island Passage.
The Verde Island Passage, which has been declared the center of marine biodiversity in the world, is a strait between Luzon and the island of Mindoro.
“The Aquino government and its local counterpart in Batangas are both out of their minds in allowing the Egerton large-scale mining project to push through in the municipality of Lobo,” said Clementine Bautista, Kalikasan PNE’s national coordinator.
The dialogue protest, which was organized and attended by local church leaders, local fisherfolk organizations and other environmental groups, was particularly aimed at getting the attention of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the agency in charge of issuing environmental compliance certificates, to prevent the foreign firm from operating in the country.
Bautista said the impending environmental risks of the mining project to the Verde Island Passage should be “more than enough” for the EMB to deny Gold-Egerton of its compliance certificate.
“The Egerton gold project will be utilizing open-pit mining technology, which will result in the production and dumping of millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River down to the waters of the Verde Island Passage,” Bautista said. “This impending mine pollution will surely spell death to current marine conservation areas in Lobo municipality alone.”
In 1997, DENR declared Lobo the fifth of 18 biodiversity centers in the world. The municipality houses four declared marine conservation areas, namely the Lobo Mangrove Conservation Area, Sawang Olo-olo Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area, Malabrigo Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area and Biga Fish Sanctuary and Refuge Area.
Apart from negative environmental consequences, environmental groups said the mining project would also affect the food security and source of livelihood of local residents and may even displace some communities.
“As large-scale mining involves deforestation and land clearing, flora and fauna will be surely lost and communities will be displaced in the development and commercial operation of the mining project,” Bautista said.
In October 2006, the DENR issued a mining exploration permit to MRL Gold Philippines Inc. and its affiliate Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. RC
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