Friday, 25 May 2012

Late-breaking news by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ - Johson Gold Mining meets JP-LGU demands on mine wastes

A tractor works on the pond wall that collapsed. Notice a portion the Mambulao Bay in the background. Some 200 tons of mine waste from this pond flooded down the mountain slope on Friday, April 13, 2012 and damaged at least 10 houses, water tributaries, a small area of a farmland and a portion of the nearby seashore.- MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ More photos by APH below story.

THE retrieval of spilled silts from the collapsed tailings pond of Johson Gold Mining Corporation operating outside in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte will be completed by the end of this month.

This was assured by Darwyn H Morada, acting resident manager of the gold miner, in a letter submitted to Jose Panganiban Vice-Mayor Ariel M Non dated May 5, 2012.

Non, who headed a panel that investigated the cause of the mine tragedy and to decide on the fate of the company, gave the miner until May 5, 2012 to deal with the issue.

A copy of the letter was emailed to MWBuzz by Jason A Marcelo, company vice-president, from Metro Manila.

Mine wastes of about 200 metric tons from JGMC operations flooded down the hillside slopes of Baranggay Bagong-bayan outside the town’s poblacion on Friday, April 13, 2012, when the wall of one of the five tailings ponds at the mining camp collapsed.

The mining camp is located atop a mountain at Baranggay Bagong-Bayan that overlooks Mambulao Bay.

The flooding that occurred at about 4pm affected about 10 houses along its path and inundated a nearby creek and some food gardens.

The mine wastes had reached the main road, blocking traffic for quite some time.

A big amount of the silt had also reached the bay water which was just a few meters away from the main road. However, no “fish-kill” was observed, according to Bagong-Bayan baranggay officials.

After investigating the incident, Non’s panel had given JGMC until May 5, 2012 to come up with plans on how to prevent further occurrences of similar disaster.

It also ordered the miner to do a cleanup and pay the damages caused by the tails’ flooding.

Earlier, Mayor Ricarte Padilla told MWBuzz in an interview that the miner had to do something about its tailing ponds.
“Otherwise, they (Johson) won’t get the endorsement of the municipal government for a renewal of their mining permits” from the government.”

Recently, the company invited MWBuzz to visit the mining camp to see the progress being carried out on the damaged tailings pond and the efforts to retrieve silt along the path of the mine waste flood, including those that ended up in the nearby shoreline.

In his letter, Morada said that “retrieval operation of spilled silt is expected to be completed by the end of this month (May) while bench-type retaining wall of both Tails Pond ‘E’ and ‘F’ were planned to be completed within two months”.

He said that during these two months, concrete toe construction will be implemented, following boulders rip-rap to the third bench retaining wall.

Morada said the company would also establish a secondary vegetation to avoid further scouring of the ground during wet months.

“Cleaned-up areas especially along the creek and at the back of affected households will be planted with trees while secondary growth vegetation will be adopted to cover barren/exposed areas.”

Morada said the company “will seek endorsement from the host community (Baranggay Bangong-Bayan) for the re-utilization of affected ponds (ponds“E” and “F”.)

He stressed that “Johson will not resume operations until the integrity of these ponds is satisfactorily has been assured”.

It would be recalled that mining operations halted in November 2011 to allow the company to do maintenance works and repairs of its gold processing facilities.

Since then it has not resumed operations and would continue to remain shut until the disaster incident has been appropriately dealt with by the company.

“Mill plant will be de-bugged to avoid speed deterioration of equipment and its auxiliaries,” Morada said.

He explained that during the process, the company will utilize siltation ponds as disposal of plant tails located within the vicinities of “tails pond BC”.

The company has six ponds, of which two have been shutdown.

On the other hand, Morada said the Tacoma pit operation will carry out rehabilitation for its closure and abandonment.

However, the development of underground workings (for both Tacoma and San Mauricio vein system) will proceed to prepare for the complete resumption of operations.

Likewise, the miner has also updated the municipal government on its tailings cleanup efforts:

1. Retrieval and recovery operation of spilled silt continued utilizing both manual tools and heavy equipment.

“As of yesterday, May 06, 2012, computed silt for transfer to stable ground is around 200 MT (4% remaining of the total silt spillage). Total silt recovery is expected to be completed by May 15, 2012.”

2. Embankment repair and rehabilitation of the damaged part and containment of silt within catch basin were established as of May 4, 2012.

Engineered retaining wall design will be implemented as per revised plan

3. Cleanup of silt along “Korokan creek” was completed dated April 17, 2012

4. Restored domestic and local water district lines within vicinity of the damage area

Baranggay Bagong-Bayan Baranggay Chairman Jason J Arriola told MWBuzz that Johson was to pay a total of P14,000 in damages caused to properties affected by the waste flooding.

Johson Gold Mining is the only Filipino-owned gold mine in the country.

For comment:  and

The path of mine wastes that flooded a neighborhood at Baranggay Bangong-bayan on Friday, April 13, 2012 damaging at least 10 houses and inundating a nearby creek, drinking water system and farmlands. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

The muddy path of destruction.  - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

These two culverts under the road at Baranggay Bagong-bayan are overwhelmed and disabled by mine tailings that flooded a part of Baranggay Bagong-bayan.  - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Portion of the pond wall that collapsed. Seen in the background are houses at Baranggay Calero on the other side of Mambulao Bay. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Tons of mine wastes end up on the shore of Mambulao Bay at Baranggay Bagong-bayan, causing massive silt pollution in the water. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

A portion of the pond that collapsed and released about 200MT of mine wastes. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Farmland that has been inundated by a flood of mine tailings.  - Photo courtesy of JGMC

JGMC workers retrieve mine wastes from the creek.  - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Water hose network at Baranggay Bagong-bayan that was knocked by the tailings. It has been restored by the mining company. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

 Water meters still half-buried by mine wastes. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Tractors haul off sacks of mine tailings that have been retrieved by Johson workers from the disaster area. They are to be brought back to the camp for proper disposal. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

A tractor retrieves tons of mine wastes. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Sacks of retrieved mine wastes wait to be hauled off back to the mine camp. Seen on left is one of the t0 houses that have been damaged. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Portion of a damaged farmland. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Acting mining manager Engr Darwyn Morada points to MWBuzz the locations of the Johson Gold’s mining claims around the municipality of Jose Panganiban. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ


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