Multipartite group to be created to monitor operations of Surigao mining firm

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Sept) – Following complaints from residents of the discoloration of a creek where they bathe and wash their clothes, a multipartite group will be set up next week to monitor activities of the Silangan Mining Mindanao, Inc. in the municipality of Placer in Surigao del Norte.

According to Rene Gonzales, mines and safety division chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MBG) Caraga, the Multipartite Monitoring Team will be composed of representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its sub-offices (the MGB and the Environment Management Bureau), local government units, non-government organizations and the religious sector.

Gonzales said no MMT has been set up yet for Silangan Mining to watch its activities because it is still in the development stage.

He said he already talked with representatives of the mining firm about the creation of the MMT and the company has expressed its support.

“We should come up with MMT to monitor them,” he said.

Some residents in Barangay Boyongan in Placer are worried over the alleged polluted water in the creek, saying it has something to do with the ongoing mining operation of Silangan Mining.

Last week, residents in Barangay Boyongan, Placer, Surigao del Norte said the discoloration of the water has been happening since late last year.

Mamerto Tinaveras, a farmer, said the water appears whitish with some sediments. He blamed it for his carabao getting ill.

“We don’t use the water from the creek anymore because it is already whitish, sometimes it appears like milk,” he said in the vernacular.

Gonzales said the water from the ground of the mining area are apparently treated with flocculant and coagulant but these must have settled in the pond, the reason it became whitish. He assured this has no ill effects on the environment but said it still has to be addressed.

An MGB official also said that this water from the creek flows down to Barangay Timamana and Cawilan in Tubod town and in Magpayang in Mainit and would settle in Lake Mainit.

Jerry Bayana, a worker of Silangan Mining, told MindaNews they will come up with solutions on the matter.

Silangan Mining Company, Inc. is a subsidiary of Philex Mining, which has substantial presence in Benguet Province. It is expected to mine gold and copper and is now undertaking works for an underground tunnel in preparation for its commercial operations in 2018.

The company is also said to be considering to venture into open-pit mining in the area.

This controversial mining company has paid at least P188.6 million in penalties for violating the Clean Water Act of 2004, which is on top of the P1.034 billion the company settled with the MGB in February 2013 for violating the 1995 Mining Act following the tailings dam spill sending more than 20 million tons of mine waste that polluted Agno River and Balog Creek in Benguet.