- Posted February 21, 2013 by
Quezon City, Philippines
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Environmentalist condemned the new open pit mining permit
Palace approval of ECC betrays public trust
‘Tampakan mining threatens life and environment’
Environmental, research and scientist groups rebuked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Aquino administration for giving Xstrata-Sagitarrius Mines, Inc. (X-strata-SMI) an environmental compliance certificate(ECC) for the Tampakan gold-copper mines, a project that will “destroy watersheds, pollute the environment and threaten life” in southern Mindanao.
“DENR should not have granted Xstrata-SMI an ECC, because that implies the fulfillment of all requirements, including the mitigation of environmental impacts. That is simply not the case. In fact, the proposed mining operation is a veritable threat to the people and the environment,” stated Defend Patrimony, a national alliance against large-scale mining.
Green groups, together with indigenous people’s organizations and multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan called for the cancellation of the ECC in a protest action held in front of the DENR office today.
“Mining in Tampakan will hit critical watersheds that supply water for domestic use and irrigation in southern Mindanao. Allowing SMI to mine in Tampakan means abandoning government responsibility to ensure clean and safe water for the people,” said Ma. Finesa Cosico, environmental expert from AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.
The 9,460-hectare mining tenement is bordered by two mountain ecosystems. The first, Mt. Matutum, is a protected landscape that supplies 25 percent of the water needs of municipalities in South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City. Meanwhile, the second, Mt. Bololomot, has been declared an environmentally critical area and serves as head water of one of the region’s sub-basins, the Dalul River, and flows into Mal River that irrigates three South Cotabato municipalities.
Mining would impact the ground water with the likely occurrence of erosion and sedimentation, formation of acid mine drainage, heavy metal contamination, chemical pollution and leaching, according to the findings of a 2010 environmental investigative mission conducted by the concerned groups.
“SMI will employ open-pit mining and this will definitely result to massive deforestation and pollution. An environmentally critically project in an environmentally critical area spells disaster and must be averted by the government by cancelling SMI’s ECC,” said Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines Executive Director Frances Quimpo.
Meanwhile, Defend Patrimony believes that the approval of the Tampakan mining project coincides “suspiciously” with the Aquino administration’s active participation in the coming senatorial elections.
“Big foreign mining companies are infamous as sources of election fund. It was the people in Malacañang who requested the approval of SMI-Xstrata’s ECC. This is a multibillion dollar project, and it is not unlikely that the proponents, which include PNoy’s uncle Danding Conjuangco, pledged to give financial support for the administration senatorial bets and local candidates,” said Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment National Coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr.
Amounting to $5.9 billion, the Xstrata-SMI project in Tampakan is the largest mining investment in the country to date.
Gregorio B. "Jhun" Dantes Jr.