Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Padilla: Johson Gold Mining waste ponds still inadequate

One of the mining sites of JGMC in Mambulao. - Photo courtesy of JGMC website


MAMBULAO gold miner Johson Gold Mining Corp is apparently processing gold without adequately-built waste ponds that could prevent mining pollutants from ending up at the Mambulao Bay.

This suspicion arose after town mayor Ricarte Padilla said that the municipal government has not yet endorsed Johson’s request for a certification of its mine tailings ponds from the national government.

Ricarte has implied that Johson’s waste disposal system has not yet been certified “safe” by the Geo Sciences Bureau (MGB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Mayor Dong Padilla ... a JGMC watcher
He revealed this  in a message he posted on this reporter’s Facebook account as response to a query: “Mayor Padilla … would you be able to tell me kung merong mine waste-tailings ponds ang Johson Gold Mining Corp sa San Mauricio mining camp nila?”

The mayor responded, saying: “Meron po … but we are still requiring them to put more safety nets and improve their tails pond before we could issue them the necessary endorsement for their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC)…”

Johson’s operation at the former site of the San Mauricio Mining Co is about 1km away from the shoreline of Mambulao Bay.

Although the mayor did not elaborate on his comment, it was apparent that the municipal government has not endorsed Johson’s ECC application because it was not confident enough on the integrity of the miner’s wastes containment facilities.

In a number of gold mining operations around the world, there had been instances when existing mine wastes ponds broke or leaked and released cyanide-tainted waste water to the environment, particularly to nearby water tributaries, which usually ended up on lakes or bay waters.

There are water tributaries around Johson’s mining camp and this was confirmed by the company’s official website.

It said on the website: “Accessible by land, (Johson) mill plant is in a moderate terrain exactly 100 meters above sea level. 

“All tributaries on both sides are drained thru the Mambulao Bay facing the Pacific Ocean.’
Johson apparently has not done the necessary improvement on its tailings pond to earn the municipal government’s endorsement for the miner’s environmental certification.

Johson vice-president Jason Marcelo said in email sent to MBWbuzz to refute an earlier story on the worsening pollution at the Mambulao Bay allegedly caused by unregulated gold mining operations in Mambulao:

“As part of Legitimate Operations and Compliance to Regulations, plant "tailings" or "slurry" is impounded in a controlled disposal site, designed by a geotechnical engineer, while also being regularly monitored and maintained by JGMC's technical team. 

“In addition to that, there is consistent monitoring both from Mines and Geo Sciences Bureau (MGB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), and of course regular monitoring of the host community barangay representatives.”

Over the past few years, the Mambulao Bay has experienced increased pollution, mainly caused by mud and silt produced from gold mining operations around the municipality.

One of the most hard-hit areas is the beach in Parang where yellowish-brownish mud has covered what used to be sandy shoreline. 

Mud and silt discharged from several small-scale mining operations have  also made the bay water brownish.

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