NPA frees 2 mine firm officials in Surigao Norte; mining operations halted

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/04 October) — Communist rebels released unharmed two officials of the Taganito Mining Corp. they had taken hostage in an attack Monday on three mining firms in Claver town, Surigao del Norte.

Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias, public information officer of the 4th Infantry Division said Jose Anievas, manager of Taganito Mining Corp. and their security officer, retired Army colonel Rene Perenal were left by the rebels in a secluded road as they withdrew to the mountains on Monday night.

“Both of them are okay and in good spirits when the soldiers caught up with them,” Osias said.

A barge smolders at anchor at the Cagdianao pier of Platinum Group Metals Corporation in in Barangay Cagdianao in Claver town, Surigao del Norte on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. NPA rebels attacked three mining firms in Claver on Oct. 3 destroying hundreds of millions pesos of heavy mining equipment including barges. MindaNews photo by Roel CatotoHe said the soldiers were advancing slowly, careful not to run into several landmines possibly left by the rebels along their withdrawal route.

Nickel Asia Corp., one of the country’s major mining firms, stopped the nickel mining operations of its companies, Taganito Mining Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp. and Taganito HPAL Nickel following the attacks last Monday.

Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said such attacks “undermine” the peace process between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front and drove home the importance of a ceasefire.

“Government remains committed to the peace process and hopes the other party will listen more to our people’s aspirations for peace and devote more energies on making the peace table work,” Deles said.

A day after the boldest and biggest rebel attack on mining firms, the military said most of Claver town has been secured by responding soldiers and policemen.

The military said the destruction of equipment of the mining firms was more widespread than earlier reported.

“I saw long lines of gutted dump trucks. They were everywhere. Barges were overturned from their moorings at the pier because of the blasts from the bombs of the rebels,” MindaNews correspondent Roel Catoto reported from Claver.

A motorcycle rider passes along a row of burnt dump trucks at the compound of Platinum Groups Metals Corporation in Barangay Cagdianao in Claver town in Surigao del Norte on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. NPA rebels attacked three mining firms in Claver on Oct. 3 destroying hundreds of millions pesos of heavy mining equipment including barges. MindaNews photo by Roel CatotoAn update of the destroyed equipment made by the military showed that Taganito Mining Corp. lost 41 Volvo dump trucks (not 12 as earlier reported), seven wheel loaders, two graders, four service and shuttle trucks, one barge, a pickup vehicle and three loaders.

The rebels also torched the firm’s administration building, its laboratory building, electrical and mechanical buildings, and its warehouse.

He said Platinum Group Metals Corp. which acquired brand-new dump trucks a week ago, suffered the heaviest losses.

Osias said the firm lost 91 dump trucks, three barges, seven backhoes, two road graders and two wheel loaders.

The rebels also disarmed the security personnel of the firm and took away 28 9mm pistols, eight shotguns, and 32 Kenwood handheld radios.

Osias said damage can run up to hundreds of millions of pesos and that most trucks were irreparable. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)

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