EMB asks Surigao Norte gov to order small-scale miners to build settling ponds

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/31 March) — The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Caraga has asked Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas to order the small scale mining group operating in and near Parang-parang watershed to institute measures to contain mining waste.

In a letter dated March 6, Ester A. Olavides, OIC regional director of EMB-Caraga said based on the site inspection report of her Technical Staff  last February 1,“this office concurs with the recommendations of the technical staff that  the Honorable Governor shall order the association (Nagkahiusang Gagmayng Minero or NAGAMI)  to institute mitigating measures by constructing environmental engineering structures (e.g. series of settling ponds) to mitigate the possible negative impacts caused by this mining operations such as acid mine, soil erosion, siltation and sedimentations of the affected water bodies.”

The issuance of small-scale mining permits is a function devolved to the local government unit (LGU).

Earlier, Benjamin Ensomo, Jr., general manager of Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD) said activities by small scale mining in Parang-parang watershed have caused turbid waters downstream affecting the future source of potable water including the proposed intake dam of SMWD.

He said the water effluents which flowed down to Surigao River obviously pollute the water.

Ensomo said no wonder the Surigao River has become murky.

Earlier, out of several dozens of tunnels located just several meters away from buffer zone, a dozen of newly-dug tunnels owned by Mamanwas are found within the buffer zone.

Mamanwa miners are not associated with NAGAMI.

Ivonnie Dumadag, chief of Provincial Environment and Management Office (PEMO) –Surigao del Norte, said Governor Sol F. Matugas will implement next month the recommendation of the EMB.

“Tag approve ni Governor Matugas for implementation ang tanan recommendation sa EMB” (Governor Matugas approved for implementation the recommendations of the EMB),  Dumadag said in a text message to MindaNews Friday.

Junribel Bustillo, NAGAMI spokesperson, said the stand of small mining groups is to “follow the recommendations of EMB and all legal process.”

Bustillo said their group is now planning on building settling ponds.

Last Thursday, EMB conducted a data base sampling to determine the mercury level in downstream creeks and rivers in Parang-parang watershed.

The same is a prelude of the creation of the Minahan Ng Bayan or People’s Small Scale Mining which the SMWD strong opposes, claiming it will adversely affect the water sources. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)