DAVAO Gulf is in danger once the Tampakan Open-Pit Mining in South Cotabato pushes through, said Atty. Mark Peñalver, executive director of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis).

“Although the project is not here in Davao City, it will affect all connected watersheds... it will affect the marine ecosystem dire, dili pa nato sya mafeel outright but eventually mathreatened gyud ang biodiversity sa atong marine ecosystem sa Davao Gulf kung magpadayon man ang operation didto sa South Cotabato (The effect is not outright but it will eventually threaten the biodiversity of the marine ecosystem once the operation starts in South Cotabato),” Peñalver said.

The South Cotabato Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Monday, May 16, 2022 approved the proposal to overturn the controversial ban on open-pit mining, removing a decades-long stumbling block to the $5.9 billion Tampakan Open-Pit Mining project, which is Southeast Asia's largest unexplored copper-gold goldmine.

Idis said in a statement that the open-pit mining project is expected to use groundwater resources that will transport highly toxic wastewater through a 150-km pipe from the Municipality of Malalag draining to Davao Gulf.

The group added that despite the treatment process presented, risks of overland flow, flooding disasters, and possible collapse of tailings ponds will impair marine and aquatic biodiversity including loss of habitat of the sea turtles residing in Davao Gulf due to developments. The gulf is home to the Hawksbill Sea Turtle that is classified under the IUCN Red List as critically endangered and Green Sea Turtle, which is endangered, as well as Olive Ridley and Leatherback which are classified vulnerable.

The fish stocks, and aquaculture in the coastal areas is also expected to be affected which is similar to the incident (siltation and discoloration) in Mapagba River in Banaybanay in January 2022.

“Not all legal is moral, dili pasabot nga nakakuha silag permit, then tama na ni sya, tan-awon nato dire ang general welfare sa mga katawhan, yes naay nakabenefit sa mga ginahatag sa mining industry but kinsa man to sila? Gagmay lang man pud to compared sa mga naapektuhan (permit does not mean it is right, we should consider general welfare of the people, and only few benefited from it over affected sectors).” Peñalver said.

According to Idis due to its geomorphological qualities (open-pit mining), connecting rivers and tributaries at the surface, and including groundwater reserves, what happens in one portion of the watershed will affect the entire watershed, from forests, agricultural, urban, and coastal to estuarine ecosystems.

Affected watersheds as identified by IDIS are in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and Davao del Sur. It also poses a threat to the ecological integrities of Allah Valley (102,000 hectares) in Sultan Kudarat, the watershed of the Padada River (120,000 hectares) in Davao del Sur, and the watershed of the Marbel River (122,000 hectares) in the Province of Cotabato.

Meanwhile, Idis urged Dabawenyos to help them in stopping the approval of the Tampakan open-pit mining through signing the petition at https://bit.ly/NoToTampakanMining.