MGB: ‘Lando’ spares Zambales mining structures
OLONGAPO CITY—Siltation ponds and other structures of four mining companies operating in Sta. Cruz, Zambales province, remained intact after Typhoon “Lando” (international name: Koppu) hit the province last month, officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Luzon said.
The MGB report came on the heels of protests from Sta. Cruz residents, who blamed the mining companies for the floods that submerged several villages in their town during the onslaught of Lando.
On Nov. 2, at least 1,000 Sta. Cruz residents staged a protest rally to denounce the operations of the mining companies.
But representatives of the mining firms denied that their operations caused the flooding.
Citing results gathered by an MGB investigating team, Lope Cariño Jr., MGB regional officer in charge, said the ponds, silt traps and perimeter canals of the four mining companies showed “no signs of breach or collapse.”
The investigation was done from Oct. 23 to 25 at the mining sites of Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Ermen Minerals Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. These companies are producing nickel laterite (soil layer rich in iron oxide).
Cariño said that while the MGB team noted gully erosion, scoured slopes of haul roads, and several uprooted trees in the mining sites, “there were no major adverse environmental problems encountered [or] observed by the team.”
The protesters demanded the permanent cancellation of the mining permits of the four companies as they blamed the damaged settling ponds in the mining sites as the source of thick and reddish-brown floodwater that submerged several villages in their town.
In a recent statement, BNMI said it had been observing “strict enforcement of mining regulations and monitoring of compliance with remediation in the past several months by the MGB, Environmental Management Bureau and the local government.”
It said it operates “within proper environmental standards.”
The MGB said the four companies were conducting rehabilitation and clearing operations along the haul road due to minor landslides. Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon
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