30,000 jobs at stake with closure of mine firms — Chamber of Mines Caraga

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — Some 30,000 direct jobs will be lost once the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) enforces the closure of 14 mining firms in the provinces of Dinagat, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, a mining executive said.

“These are the direct jobs in the mining industry and if you add the indirect jobs created by mining industry in Caraga that would be double,” Chamber of Mines Caraga president Dulmar Raagas told MindaNews on Monday through a text message.

Raagas said the government had not offered alternative jobs for workers who will be displaced.

He said they are planning to seek reconsideration or exhaust legal remedies to prevent the closure of these mining firms.

But DENR Secretary Regina Paz Lopez said mining particularly the extraction of nickel ore is not a labor-intensive industry.

“Mining industry only contributes to .6 percent of the total employment in the country,” she said.

She said that in a 2014 study by government, the mining industry had only created 255,000 jobs. “I do not know where they are getting the numbers of 1.2 million jobs.”

She said so many people had been adversely affected by the mining operations for decades.

“We cannot build an industry that few only benefits while the majority suffers,” she said last Sunday afternoon in her Facebook account.

“To address the employment to this affected sector, the government will focus on green economy particularly on ecotourism,” she added.

Last Thursday Lopez announced that seven companies were ordered closed in Dinagat Islands, which has been a mineral reservation area since 1939.

These are the 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.

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.

“Hindi ito mga responsible mining. It’s total crazy. There is social injustice,” Lopez told MindaNews.

Lopez was horrified by what she saw in Dinagat Islands and Surigao provinces during her aerial survey last January 26 and 27.

“Oh my God. Grabe. It’s absolutely crazy,” she blurted out upon seeing the massive siltation caused by mining.

The secretary did an aerial survey of mining operations in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur on Thursday and in Agusan del Norte and Dinagat Islands on Friday.

“Parang (It’s like a) nightmare. Sabi ko (I said)…aaahhh,” said Lopez as she showed MindaNews the videos and photos she took using her mobile phone.

Several businessmen whose businesses are aligned with mining expressed apprehensions on DENR’s decision.

“We have millions of investments in support of the mining industry and these will be gone if closure would be implemented,” said a sub-contractor in Carrascal Nickel Corporation who requested not to be named.

He said he has several fleets of heavy equipment in the said mining company.

In nickel mining lingo, a fleet of heavy equipment is composed of at least 10 units of four-wheel drive dump trucks and a backhoe.

“Most of these heavy equipment are not yet paid to its creditor. We are paying its monthly amortization,” he added.

He said that if the company closes he has no option but to return the equipment to its supplier or sell them.

Asked for comment, former Surigao City councilor Edgar Canda said these mining companies should be closed down.

“Fair enough. They are wantonly destroying the environment and no amount of money that would compensate to the adverse effect to the environment,” he said.

“Fishermen could hardly catch fish because the rivers and seas have been damaged driving thousands of people deeper into poverty,” he said.

He said the people in Surigao and Dinagat have long been survived without mining.

Canda said mine workers only work during the dry season, from March to September.

Roger de Dios, regional director of Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau-Caraga said on Friday that they are still awaiting the closure order from Lopez. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)