DAVAO CITY – The companies that caused the siltation in rivers near the border of Pantukan town in Davao de Oro’s Pantukan and Banaybanay towns in Davao Oriental have set up structures in their mine areas to prevent waste from reaching local watersways, they stated in a Tuesday statement.
Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corp. and Arc Nickel Resources Inc. (Anri), are the holders of the mineral production sharing arrangement for a 6,000 hectare area in Banaybanay. Anri said that an megapond built in Mararag 1 with 77,000 cubic meters would be completed in February 2015. Another megapond, Maputi, would hold 85.840 cu. m, would be completed by February 10.
Officials from the company stated that they were also building 13 silt curtains and settling ponds at strategic points to stop silt from reaching the sea.
They also reported zero wastewater discharge after suctioning the impounded water.
They acted in response to an order from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to improve the company’s environment control systems in order to prevent another discoloration and siltation in Mapagba and Pintatagan rivers, Banaybanay, following heavy and continuous rains last month.
Teams from the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Management Bureau and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office monitored the construction of these structures in order to ensure that the mine site could withstand extraordinary rainfall volume.
Josue Lapian, Anri president, and chief operating officers, stated that the company immediately took steps to reduce the siltation, and discoloration, of the rivers, after discovering the incident.
We are pleased to report that we have made significant progress in the cleanups and rehabilitation efforts. [incident]Lapitan stated that it won’t happen again.
He stated that the company had been providing food assistance to the affected residents and had hired villagers to help with a cash-for work program. This was to help in the cleanup efforts as well as in planting bamboo along riverbanks to prevent erosion.
We apologize to all the people in the affected communities. We assure them that our welfare is paramount. Lapitan stated that we are working as quickly as possible to clean up the affected waters and minimize the inconvenience.
The Pantukan municipal government passed in December last year a resolution asking for the MGB to stop Anris operations. They noted that the construction a road leading to the mines could have contributed to the river’s discoloration.
Last month, Davao Oriental Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang also demanded the permanent shutdown of the company’s mine operations.
Dayanghirang asked Roy Cimatu, Environment Secretary, to cancel the mining permit in a Jan. 20 correspondence.
The governor cited the company’s alleged violation of environmental laws, which caused the river to turn orange from nickel laterite. This was due to heavy downpours on Jan. 13 and 14.
According to my technical personnel, the siltation pools were not deep enough. This caused the discolored water to overflow, while some of the discharges were not directed towards the catchment ponds. Dayanghirang wrote Cimatu. The governor stated that the company’s environmental mitigation measures and preparedness for dealing with unforeseen events are not sufficient.
He said that this blatant disregard of environmental protection by the company had caused immense environmental damage and should be corrected.
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