Inquiry into mining firms' activities sought

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Monday, April 14, 2014


A HOUSE member recently filed a measure seeking for a congressional inquiry into the recurring environmental problems involving foreign and local mining companies in the Philippines.

Western Samar Representative Mel Sarmiento filed House Resolution 950, which urges the House Committee on Ecology to include in its probe the unabated black sand mining in Luzon.

Sarmiento also called on the concerned government agencies to strictly implement the environmental laws and monitor the activities of foreign and local mining companies.

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“Despite extravagant showcases of responsible mining operations, mining companies have violated the country’s environmental laws,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento cited mining disasters that occurred in the country in 1996, 1999, 2005 and 2012.

He said that a total of 1.5 million cubic meters of toxic mine tailing from Marcopper Mining Corp. were disgorged into the Maculapnit and Boac Rivers in Marinduque in March 1996.

He also mentioned that in August 1999, the Atlas Mining Development Corp. discharged 5.7 million cubic meters of acidic wastewater into the Sapangkau River in Toledo City, Cebu.

Also, he said that the Lafayette Inc. spilled mine tailings with cyanide, which caused fish kills, paralyzing the livelihood of poor fishermen in Rapu-rapu, Albay and some fishing villages in Sorsogon.

Some 20 million metric tons of sediment from the tailing pond of Philex Mining Corp. in Tuba, Benguet flowed into water channels in August 2012.

“After months of recurring leakages, the Philex mine spills had become the biggest mining disaster in the Philippines in terms of volume,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento stressed the urgent need for the government to address the problems resulting from non-compliance of mining companies with environmental laws in all stages of their operations. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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