SouthCot small-scale miners declare ‘mining holiday’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/6 Jun) – Quarry and small-scale mining activities in South Cotabato province grounded to a halt on Tuesday as local operators staged a one-day “mining holiday” in observance of the Environment Month.

Siegfred Flaviano, South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) chief, said around 500 small-scale miners and quarry workers took a day off from work and joined a tree planting activity in the mining villages of Kematu and Desawo in T’boli town.

“We did not order them to declare a (mining) holiday. They made the initiative in support of provincial government’s environmental programs,” he said in a statement.

Flaviano said the tree planting activity, which was part of the initiatives lined up by the local government as part of the Environment Month celebration, covered about five hectares of land in the two villages.

Aside from mining and quarry workers, he said students, local government employees and residents of the area also joined the initiative.

The villages of Kematu and Desawo, which were among the thriving gold rush sites in the province, had been declared as Minahang Bayan or people’s mining sites where small-scale mining operations have been active for over a decade now.

The area presently hosts around 500 small-scale mine tunnels and the T’boli gold-silver project of Canadian firm Cadan Resources Corp., involving 84.20 hectares under Mineral Production Sharing Agreement 090-97-XI.

Flaviano said they earlier invited local quarry and mining operators to join the Environment Month activities to highlight this year’s theme: “Green Economy: Does it include you?”

He said the theme mainly recognizes the significance of pursuing a “green economy” and the need for local economic players to integrate environmental protection and conservation measures in socio-economic and development initiatives.

“As much as we recognize mining as a significant contributor of our economy, we would like to also ensure the protection of our future generations against significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities,” said Flaviano, explaining the United Nation’s environment program on green economy.

As part of the month-long Environment Month celebration in the province, Flaviano said PEMO personnel will join local mountaineering groups dubbed “Friends of Holon and Melebingoy” for an adventure trek and tree planting on June 8 to 12 at the critical Mt. Melebingoy (formerly Parker) and Lake Holon (formerly Maughan).

Dubbed as “Takladtamig,” he said the activity is part of an annual fun climb to Mt. Melebingoy through the Tbolok trail in Tboli town. Another massive tree planting is set in Koronadal City on June 29, with the city government spearheading the planting of 250,000 tree seedlings in 1,000 hectares of land along the city’s Quezon mountain range. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)