Business as usual for mining firms in Caraga

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Oct) – It’s been business as usual for all mining companies in the Caraga Region.

This after all of them have exhausted all legal remedies to counter the suspension and closure orders, according to Engr. Roger A. de Dios, the regional director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Caraga.

Former Environment Secretary Regina Lopez had suspended 15 mining companies in Caraga mainly for siltation of river and coastal waters and destroying watersheds.

Aside from the suspension order, closure orders were sent to these mining companies, who are extracting nickel ore, shipped mostly to Japan and China.

“They have filed an appeal and motion for reconsideration so all of them were not affected,” De Dios said noon Thursday during a press conference held at Philippine Gateway Hotel on the occasion of 4th Caraga Mining Symposium and Safety Competition.

Seven of the Caraga mining firms ordered closed are operating in Dinagat Islands, four in Surigao del Norte, and three in Surigao del Sur.

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.

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

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.

Last February 22, De Dios suspended Century Peak Corporation (CPC), a “recidivist” mining company in Dinagat for several violations, bringing the total to 16 mining companies. CPC engaged in extracting nickel ore in the town of Loreto.

Lopez, who was rejected by the Commission on Appointment (CA) last May 3, was replaced by former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Roy Cimatu, who got the confirmation before the CA on Wednesday.

The anti-mining group Caraga Watch is upset on this development.

“The way MGB and the mining [companies] respond to the government sanctions only proves how inutile and bankrupt our mining laws and policies are,” Rev. Pio Mercado, chairperson of the Caraga Watch, told MindaNews via text message Thursday.

“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.

“While the sanctions were in effect under Sec. Gina Lopez, the mining [companies] had openly defied such orders. [They] had mocked the secretary then and so with the appointing authority which is the President,” Mercado added.

Early this year, several anti-mining protesters were happy on the stance of the former secretary.

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.

“Despite this sad development, we should continue to fight against the wanton destructive activities wrought by mining companies in the region and protect the people’s interest, especially the marginalized,” he said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)