ATM Press Release
On Mining
Thursday, 21 January 2010 16:57
21 January 2010



MANILA, Philippines – Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacygroup and people’s movement composed of more than eighty (80) organizationsfrom mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide, urgegovernment to use geohazard maps to review mining tenements and abandoned minesto prevent mining disaster.

“Recently, theDepartment of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) has presented a Php 60million geohazard mapping study of the Philippines that identified landslideand flood prone areas in the country. This data should be maximized to strategically mitigate mining disasters– if effectively integrated in land use planning, land development,disaster-risk reduction and climate change adaptation” said Jaybee Garganera,ATM National Coordinator.

“The toplandslide prone and flood prone provinces such as Benguet, Mt. Province,Kalinga Apayao, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, etc. identified by DENR are thesame provinces which host big mine operations in the country. These geohazardareas impacted both by bad weather and mining put communities at high-risk tocatastrophe”, warns Garganera.

“Benguet hosts threebig mining operations and three abandoned mines. Last year, typhoons andlandslides did not spare mining host communities, Itogon and Mankayan in theprovince, that affected at least 50 families that had to be evacuated fromtheir homes”, said Garganera.

According to Garganera,mining is a high-risk industry that adds vulnerability to the carrying capacityof an environment. Mining operations in the Philippines are mainly open-pit, whichdisturbs a massive area of land surface. This can decrease ground water depthand natural filtration, and increases groundwater contamination.  Furthermore, when an area is opened tomining, Acid Mine Drainage(AMD) may happen, which occurs when sulphide-bearing minerals in the rock are exposedto air and water, changing the sulphide to sulphuric acid that can devastateaquatic habitats, he added.



“Benguet haveexperienced a series of disasters thanks to the province’s geohazardsusceptibility and exacerbated by mining impacts, even before the geohazard mapcame out” said Santos Mero Deputy Secretary General Cordillera Peoples Alliance

“Sadly, even therice terraces in Benguet along the Agno and Abra rivers are not spared frommining. Mining affects the water that irrigates the terraces.” added Mero.

Benguet is one ofthe provinces included in the UNESCO World Heritage site in the PhilippineCordilleras.

“The geohazardmap strengthens our argument with the Government to stop the on-going miningoperations (including expansion and approval of mining tenements) inBenguet.  Furthermore, thecommunities affected demand full rehabilitation in the area, reforestation, andcompensation of disrupted livelihood brought by mining operations in theircommunities,” said Mero.

In a study of ATMmember, Philippine Indigenous Peoples Link (PIPLinks), there were reported atleast eight (8) mine tailing dam failures attributable to heavy rainfalls andtyphoons in the Philippines (in the period 1982 to 2007). “These incidents causedmassive fish kills, toxic heavy metals contamination apparent in land andwaters, damage to agriculture, displacement and economic disruption of miningaffected communities”, said PIPLinks communications and research officer AndyWhitmore.

“The Philippines has been identified in thetop ten countries at the climate risk (Germanwatch, 2008). Withclimate change already upon us, extreme weather events, mine tailing damfailures and other mining disasters are most likely to happen with poordisaster risk reduction plan, and mining monitoring and regulation bygovernment. Geohazard areas should be declared ‘no-go zones’ to mining”, addedWhitmore.

“The Philippines,given its geography,topography and poor regulatory regime, is prone to mining disasters and otherenvironmental problems; tailings waste pollution has contaminated at least 14major river systems in the country, abandoned mines are now showing signs ofacid mine drainage. The combination of geohazard risks combined with theimpacts of mining operations and extreme weather (such as heavy rainfall andtyphoons) spell out catastrophes waiting to happen”, said Blas Tabaranza,Executive Director of the environmental group HARIBON.

“As of Septermber2009, there are 348 mining tenements tantamount to 744,199 hectares spreadacross the country. The geohazards study is an added reason why Governmentshould not revitalize and prioritize mining. DENR must stop the issuance ofmining permits and review previously issued mining tenements,” said Legal Rights and Natural ResourcesCenter executive director Judy Pasimio.

For more information:
Lodel Magbanua, PIPLinks Country Representative, (0917) 887.01.09
Santos Mero, CPA, Deputy Secretary General (0915) 205.42.62
Jaybee Garganera, ATM Coordinator, (0915) 315.37.19
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer (0917) 521.7937

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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010 17:04

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