Monday, April 14, 2014

Solon wants probe into Bicol mining firms

NAGA CITY—Lafayette, Inc. in Bicol is one of the mining companies which Western Samar 1st District Representative Mel Senen S. Sarmiento wants to subject to a congressional inquiry.
Mine tailings in Rapu-Rapu
Source: Save Rapu-Rapu
In said measure, Sarmiento maintained that many mining companies have violated environmental law, and thus believes that the inquiry into the environmental problems caused by mining companies in the Philippines is necessary.

Lafayette, Inc., maintains Sarmiento, has spilled mine tailings with cyanide in the areas in its areas of operation. This has caused fish kills, paralyzing the livelihood of poor fishermen in Rapu-rapu, Albay and some fishing villages in Sorsogon, Sarmiento averred.

Lafayette, which is owned by Australians, also affected the waters of Bacon, Prieto Diaz, Gubat, and Barcelona, earlier reports noted.

Meanwhile, the other mining companies that were named are Marcopper Mining Corp. which released 1.5 million cubic meters of toxic mine tailing into the Maculapnit and Boac Rivers in Marinduque; Atlas Mining Development Corp. which discharged 5.7 million cubic meters of acidic wastewater into the Sapangkau River in Toledo City, Cebu; and Philex Mining Corp. in Tuba, Benguet which polluted the water channels.

Citing various mining disasters throughout history, Sarmiento emphasized that there is an urgent need for the government to take the issue seriously.

Mining has been a hot issue in the region recently, after four gold panners were massacred in a mine in Caramoan, Camarines Sur allegedly by members of the provincial government’s Task Force Sagip Kalikasan because of disputes over who gets to profit from the mineral.

Last month, it was also reported that a foreign mining firm struck 12 trillion pesos’ worth of gold in Masbate, which caused some anti-mining groups to renew their call against the activity.

In Catanduanes, a bill declaring the island province a mining-free zone was also proposed. The same, however, allegedly led to opposing views among local officials.

In Camarines Norte, Governor Egay Tallado issued a statement that he also welcomed inquiries into the mining activities in the province. This was after fourteen Chinese nationals who were reportedly involved in black sand mining were arrested in a raid.

Elsewhere in the region, a group of anti-mining advocates whose members hail mostly from Sorsogon and Albay lobbied for the creation of an alliance that would hold liable the allegedly irresponsible mining companies for the environmental destruction that their activities cause.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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