14 large-scale mining firms in Caraga ‘up for closure’ – Sec. Lopez

A 2013 satellite image of Hinatuan Island in Surigao del Norte showing the extent of damage in the island due to mining. Photo courtesty of Google Earth

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 Feb) – Fourteen of the 21 mining companies named by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez as “up for closure” mainly for siltation of rivers and coastal waters and destroying watersheds are situated in the Caraga Region alone.

Seven of the Caraga mining firms ordered closed are operating in Dinagat Islands, four in Surigao del Norte and three in Surigao del Sur, according to Lopez’s Facebook page.

The seven companies ordered closed in Dinagat Islands, which has been a mineral reservation area since 1939, are AAMPhil Natural Resources Exploration, Kromico Inc., Libjo Mining Corporation, Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., SinoSteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corporation, and Wellex Mining Corporation.

Lopez stressed that despite the presence of 10 mining companies in Dinagat Islands, the province remains poor.

The DENR chief also blamed the government for not developing the eco-tourism potentials of Dinagat Islands despite its beautiful sceneries.

Four of six mining companies operating in Surigao del Norte are up for closure – ADNAMA Mining Resources Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp, and Hinatuan Mining Corp.

The three mining companies in Surigao del Sur in the list are CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

The mine site of the Claver Mineral Development Corp. operating Surigao del Norte. Photo courtesy of Sec. Lopez’s Facebook page

Outside Caraga, the other mining companies up for closure are found in Zambales and Eastern Samar.

Four firms are in Zambales, all in the municipality of Santa Cruz: BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., and LNL Archipelago Mining Corp. The three in Eastern Samar are all in Homonhon Island: Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp., Emir Minerals Corp., and Techiron Mineral Resources Inc.

In a press conference at the DENR office in Quezon City Thursday, a video of which was posted in Lopez’s Facebook page, she said she is recommending the rehabilitation of mining areas and convert them into agricultural lands and tourism sites.

“We’ve been mining this country for a hundred years. Give me one year and a half and I’ll show you what can be done,” the emotional Lopez said.

She said the government needs to fix the environment so residents in mining areas can enjoy the land. “If we do this, poverty will disappear in record time because the Philippine is so beautiful and the Filipinos are so kind,” Lopez said.

The secretary visited Caraga last week and toured the mining sites using military helicopters.

During the press conference, Lopez said the mining firms may make an appeal before the Office of the President.

Caraga Chamber of Mines President Dulmar Raagas told MindaNews in a text message that “if closure order will be served to these mining companies, we will exhaust all legal remedies.”

Anti-mining protesters in Surigao City expressed elation on the closure order.

“We are happy but this is not enough,” said former Surigao City Councilor Edgar Canda, who is among those organizing anti-mining protests here. “They should stop operating immediately and start to do genuine rehabilitation of the environment,” he stressed.

Canda said the mining companies should attend to the massive siltation in the rivers and seas and pay the people affected by the damage on the environment. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)