MGB-Caraga wants cease and desist order vs mining firm lifted

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/12 December) — A mining firm in Surigao del Norte has obtained a recommendation from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Caraga regional office in Surigao City for the lifting of the cease and desist order against the company.

In a document obtained by MindaNews on Wednesday afternoon, Daniel S. Belderol, officer-in-charge of MGB-Caraga said they had issued a memorandum recommending for the lifting of the cease and desist order against the mill plant of Greenstone Resources Corporation.

The firm operates for gold and silver in Tubod and Mainit towns in Surigao del Norte.

Belderol issued the memorandum on Dec. 1 and submitted it to MGB Director Leo Jasareno for final action.

“It was validated that the construction of a new High Density Polyethylene tailings storage facility designed at the Tailings Storage Facility No.5 was ongoing and only 85 % complete,” it said.

“In consideration of the 100% completion of the thickener and cement mixing facility that will produce thickened tailings with great residual strength and also the completion of the modification of the Tailings Storage facility Nos. 3 and 4 that can immediately accommodate the new thickened cement tailings once the mill operates and even for a period of more than four months, this office recommends for the lifting of the CDO,” the memorandum further said.

On April 24, 2013, a tension crack was discovered on the slope of one of the tailings dam in Barangay Siana, Mainit which serves as catchment of wastes from the mill’s processing plant.

The crack measured 250 meters long and had two meters of land displacement, according to MGB-Caraga.

“Upon the discovery of the tension crack, the company then did rapid response to mitigate the possible environmental risks,” said Adol Patino, of the Mine Management Division of MGB-Caraga.

Patino said that company also voluntarily stopped its operations and filled the crack with earth, made a 900-meter containment bund wall and diverted a path of Magpayang River which was 240 meters long and 200 meters wide.

He said such measures were enough to mitigate the effects of a possible spill, which, he stressed, did not occur.

Despite the massive effort, Jasareno issued a cease and desist order against the said mining firm on June 6, 2013.

Greenstone Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of Australian-based miner Red5 Limited has been producing 1,250 ounces of gold per week at Siana Mines since the start of commercial production on April 26, 2012.

Siana Mines was actually an abandoned mine site previously operated by Surigao Consolidated Mining Company Inc. (Suricon) and was first opened in the 1930s.

Closed down during World War II, it was reopened in 1946, producing 4,800 kilograms of gold and 8,000 kg of silver. It was closed down again owing to mine flooding and underground fire.

The abandoned mine site was not rehabilitated until Red5 Ltd. secured a mining permit in 2002. It was granted an environmental compliance certificate in April 2009 despite a prior scheduled Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan expected late May of the same year, according to Alyansa Tigil Mina.

The Siana Gold Project is made up of both an open pit and an underground mine. The project, as originally designed, will deliver a minimum 849,000 ounces of gold production a year at a cash cost of under $400 per ounce over a 10-year life.

Greenstone Resources Corporation used Suricon’s old tailings dam that suffered a crack.

Bebot Gonzales, liaison officer of Greenstone Resources told MindaNews that Jasareno will decide on the lifting of the cease and desist order.

Dulmar Raagas, president of the Chamber of Mines in Caraga on Thursday said that their group has issued a resolution in support to the lifting of the cease and desist order against Greenstone Resources.

He said there is no reason to prevent the mining firm from resuming operations since the stability and integrity of the tailings facility has been fully restored. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)