Concerned citizens of Zambales over the weekend strongly urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to put an end to the mining operations of four companies because they are the cause of massive mud flows in the province.
In a statement, Benito Molino, chairman of Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz (CCOS), said Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc. and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. “can no longer deny the link between their operations and the environmental destructions and disasters that we are experiencing now. The DENR must resolve this by putting an end to the mining projects here and demanding the start of rehabilitation programs.”
Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane allegedly stood in defense of the four mining giants in exchange for campaign funds for the 2016 elections.
He denied the allegation, telling the media that heavy rains brought by the typhoon and dam water caused the mud flows.
Molino said the four mining companies had failed to restore dams and ponds that were destroyed by their nickel operations.
“With the rain that poured in our province, flooding was highly possible, but the volume of red mud is a different case. We think nickel laterite may have mixed with the waters that eventually flooded parts of the province,” he added.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), said the mud flows “proved” that mining makes communities vulnerable to disasters.
“It is critical that impacts of mining are understood as closely linked to climate-induced disasters, such as this unprecedented levels of flooding. Otherwise, the resilience of communities will continue to be threatened,” he added.
Operations of the four nickel mining companies were twice suspended in the past by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau because of “unsystematic methods of mining” but were allowed to continue allegedly because of intervention by provincial government officials.
Molino said the mud flows first happened in July.
NELSON S. BADILLA