Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tampakan mines is world’s most dangerous, expert says

January 27, 2012

THE Tampakan Copper Gold Project operated by the Sagittarius Mines Inc. in the triboundaries of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Sarangani is said to be one of the most dangerous mining projects in the world, according to an expert who made a study on the mining project few years ago.

Clive Montgomery Wicks, conservation and development consultant specializing in the impact of extractive industries, said the Tampakan mining project is estimated to produce 2.7 billion tons of mine wastes.

He said the plan was to place the mine wastes on top of the mountain above the open pit mine site. If this is materialized, he said, the mine wastes will be stacked up to 300 meters high and will cover about 500 hectares.

Wicks said considering that the mining area is located just ten kilometers away from Mount Matutum, which is an active volcano, seismic activities within the mining area is high and thus the possibility of all the mine wastes going down to the populated area and down into the water sources is extremely possible.

He said the drilling of about 800 meters around the area of Mt. Matutum would also result to “induced seismic activity.”

He said despite the assurance by the mining corporation that their mine tailings dam will be strong enough, constant seismic activity would eventually destroy the dam and its toxic wastes would cover a very large farming area down the mountain.

In a statement, SMI corporate communications and media relations manager John Arnaldo dismissed Wicks’s doomsday scenario. He said they have complied with all the necessary measures to prevent such a disaster from happening.

“We have completed our Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies in accordance with relevant local and international standards. These robust, evidence-based studies involved both Filipino and international experts and have taken a number of years to complete as part of our integrated mine planning process. The EIA identified the proposed measures to mitigate and manage the potential environmental and social risks,” Arnaldo said.

“The EIS and ESIA document the project risks and SMI’s commitments to mitigate these risks. We are confident all risks can be mitigated,” he added.

As to the project’s proximity to the active volcano, Arnaldo said a site specific hazard assessment was completed as part of the EIS, which included consideration of volcanic hazards.

Wicks, meanwhile, urged the Philippine government to involve not just one agency in the issuance of mining permits. He said the agriculture and fisheries agencies must also have their say on allowing mining companies to operate considering that mining has a direct impact on the destruction of crops and aquamarine resources.

“We don’t think the government has the ability to control what the mining corporations are doing. And we don’t think that even if you allowed mining that you are going to make money out of it. What you are making is enormous liability. The impact on food and water is going to be huge,” Wicks said.

“You have to have an interdepartmental, no one person must decide whether to have a mine or not. There must be involvement of other agencies like the agriculture and fisheries that will also be affected by the mining pollution,” he added.

Legarda seeks creation of Lake Lanao Development Authority

January 21, 2012

STRESSING that Lake Lanao and its watersheds are now in the middle of an ecological crisis, Senator Loren Legarda is pushing for the creation of the Lake Lanao Development Authority.

Legarda said a 2006 study made by the Mindanao State University found that the Lake suffers from massive algae contamination brought about by indiscriminate logging, extensive land-use and farming.

She said the continued deterioration of Lake Lanao is most unfortunate, given its historical, cultural, economic and ecological importance to the country.

“Being the only ancient lake in the country, Lake Lanao is considered of prime ecological importance, which justified the establishment of the Lake Lanao Watershed way back in 1992 pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 871,” Legarda said.

Considered as part of their ancestral domain, she said Lake Lanao is also of significant historical and cultural importance to indigenous peoples, particularly the Maranaos who continue to live in areas surrounding the lake.

“It also plays an important role in securing Mindanao’s energy needs as it supplies water for six of its existing hydroelectric power plants, collectively responsible for 70 percent of the island’s energy needs,” Legarda added.

She pointed out that although the poor state of the Lake is attributed to man-made activity, this was further compounded by the absence of a clear framework in managing its water and watershed resources.

With this, Legarda filed Senate Bill 3097 that seeks to establish an effective policy and regulatory administration over Lake Lanao thru the Lake Lanao Development Authority, thereby ensuring the promotion and development of Mindanao’s important natural resource base in a sustainable manner.

“The Authority shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to issue Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs)/Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNCs) and grant permits for any projects or activities in or affecting the Lake Lanao Area. The proposed measure also aims to adopt the integrated water resources management to promote sustainable development in the same area,” she said.

Legarda added that the bill also seeks to create the Public Hearing Committee to strengthen Lake Lanao Development Authority’s ability to resolve disputes; and the Lanao Lake Police exclusively for the Lake Lanao Area trained especially for the enforcement of fisheries and environmental laws and the rules and regulations duly promulgated by the Authority.