Cagayan groups protest inaction on mine abuses | Inquirer News
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Cagayan groups protest inaction on mine abuses

/ 11:41 PM November 09, 2011

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—A coalition of Cagayan environmental groups criticized what they said was the government’s failure to stop the operations of at least five Chinese companies, which they accused of blatantly violating environment laws.

In a statement, the Federation of Anti-Mining Advocates in Cagayan (Famac) said it was upset at the provincial government and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for failing to take to task the Chinese firms that are hauling magnetite sand from coastal towns of the province.

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Famac led opposition to magnetite sand mining operations in the towns of Aparri, Abulug, Buguey, Camalaniugan, Gonzaga, Lallo, and Santa Ana.

It listed at least eight alleged violations committed by mining companies operating in two of the towns.

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The group cited the case of Lian Xing Phils. Stone Carving Corp. and Huaxia Mining and Trading Corp., which operate in Gonzaga. Famac said these firms were allowed to extract and haul black sand with the use of “sophisticated and heavy equipment,” when the law states that small-scale mining should heavily rely on manual labor.

San You Philippines Inc. and Lutra Inc., which operate in Buguey and Huaxia, have extracted magnetite sand using permits that classify them as “mineral processing plants,” yet these firms are required to secure a mineral processing permit, according to the group.

Mario Ancheta, acting MGB director in Cagayan, said his agency would verify Famac’s allegations.

But Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. disputed Famac’s report. “[These mining companies]… have permits, and we have not seen any violation. [Famac] should look at… what the local government can get as benefits [from these mine operations],” he said in a phone interview.

In Baguio City, mining firms and antimine activists faced off this week with parallel activities that seek to promote the environment.

The Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) opened its 58th Annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference with a tree planting activity at their adopted section of the Baguio Botanical Garden.

Beset by local government ordinances banning large-scale mining and the recent attacks on mining areas in Mindanao, the mining industry will continue to improve its operations now that environmentally-sound technology has been developed, Louie Sarmiento, PMSEA president, told a news briefing on Tuesday.

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On Wednesday, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) launched its own antimine conference week at Malcolm Square in Baguio, by displaying an actor, wearing a mask of President Aquino, standing behind bars.

Abigail Anongos, CPA secretary general, said they were upset at Mr. Aquino because “he has actively encouraged foreign investments in the country, primarily mining investments, through his trips abroad.” Melvin Gascon with reports from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Cagayan environmental groups, Famac, Federation of Anti-Mining Advocates in Cagayan, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, mining abuses
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