TUGUEGARAO CITY: Director Mario Ancheta of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for Region 2 has belied reports that large-scale foreign mining firms in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya use toxic and hazardous chemicals.
Ancheta said the claims by anti-mining groups that the Didipio Gold-Copper Project and the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya are “not using mercury, cyanide or any noxious substances in their operations.”
”We have been strictly monitoring these mining projects. They do not use poisonous materials; and how can this be when noxious substances such as mercury and cyanide are already banned in mining operations,” he said.
Australian OceanaGold’s Didipio project is located along the remote mountain boundary of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya, now in its commercial operation since May after two decades of exploration. This is the first large-scale mining project approved under the Mining Act of 1995, which is contracted by the government.
On the other hand, the British FCF Minerals Corp.’s Gold-Molybdenum Runruno project in Quezon town in Nueva Vizcaya is in its construction phase and is expected to operate commercially next year.
Local-based environment and anti-mining groups have been opposing these two mining firms for allegedly using mercury in their operations claiming that the firms have contaminated rivers and bodies of water in their respective host barangays.
However, MGB officials and inspectors said it is the presence of illegal or unregulated small-scale mining operations that is causing the contamination of the rivers with mercury; not the two large-scale mining projects of the government.
Ancheta said that in Didipio village, the river has lost its once-abundant fresh water fish species and that it is no longer safe for humans because of mercury contamination by illegal small-scale miners.
”The water quality of the river in Didipio was already deteriorating even before the Didipio project started its commercial operation. It is the small-scale miners are to be blamed for the river’s dying state,” he said.
Ancheta said small-scale miners were actually the ones causing the contamination of the rivers with the already banned hazardous substance to extract gold from ore materials “and therefore unlikely that the Didipio and Runruno projects caused the contamination of the rivers and other water sources.”