BENGUET Corporation's (BC) plans to raise the tailings storage facility (TSF) 2 continues to meet strong opposition from residents.
Last week, stakeholders from Barangays Poblacion, Tinongan and Dalupirip in
an assembly expressed disapproval to raising of the mining company's TSF 2.
It was in August 2014 when a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was inked between BC and the downstream barangays of Itogon for the raising of TSF 2, and last year, the mining firm made public plans to raise the dam to five meters.
However, in a series of dialogues, downstream communities expressed fears that raising the dam will pose a threat to their lives.
In February 2, the lower downstream communities and Indigenous Peoples of Barangays Poblacion, Tinongdan and Dalupirip collectively presented a petition to the dam raising project of Benguet Corporation in Poblacion.
"While we have been very supportive of the corporate initiatives and mining operations of Benguet Corporation for the past decades, we are concerned about the structural integrity as well as the social and environmental impacts of raising TSF Dam 2," the petition stated.
In their petition, the lower downstream communities asked the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-Cordillera to revoke the ECC of the project and for Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Cordillera to withdraw order requiring Benguet Corporation to increase the height of the TSF Dam 2.
They also asked the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to require and not to exempt the company in adhering to the process of Free Prior and Informed Consent for the project and for the local government unit (LGU) to support the petition and deny issuance of any local permit or clearance related to the dam raising project.
Benguet Corporation was further asked to ensure toxic materials and mine tails from their mining operations are drained directly to the rivers.
The petition was submitted in June to the local government of Itogon.
This month, the stakeholders asked the mining company to stop the raising of TSF dam 2.
Mayor Victorio Palangdan on August 5 issued a stoppage order to the activity in TSF 2 until such time the company secure necessary papers, including a building permit.
Lawyer Froilan Roger Lawilao, administration manager of Benguet Corporation, in a letter to Poblacion Barangay Captain Albert Carantes Jr. in relation to the petition of lower downstream communities in view of the enhancement of the company's TSF 2, said numerous public consultations and meetings led by government agencies concerned were held with the lower downstream communities.
"We then believe and we humbly submit that we have exhaustedly clarified the issues and concerns as to the enhancement of the dam embankment of TSF 2. This is not to mention that we are being directed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to immediately implement the enhancement of the dam embankment to maintain its integrity and safe operation for the protection and elimination of possible risks to the community," he added.
The company added it will continue with the TSF 2 development plan and comply with all government rules and regulations.
TSF 2 holds mine waste from operations.