Miners wash themselves down next to an abandoned mine tunnel in the village of Mount Diwata in the Compostela Valley on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. – Websitepic
By MAR S ARGUELLES
LEGAZPI CITY: The unabated diggings of crisscrossing tunnels by miners seeking for gold ore in the towns of Paracale, Labo, and Jose Panganiban in the province of CamNorte is inviting a major disaster especially during extreme weather, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here warned.
Lydia Burburan, DENR Ecosystem Research and Development Services Regional Technical Director (RTD, said a number of crisscrossing and abandoned tunnels were discovered during an evaluation aand monitoring of ongoing small scale mining operations in the three mining towns of the province.
Burburan said the presence of these type of tunnels is a major issue that needs to be addressed by the agency and the provincial local executives.
Burburan said miners dig up crisscrossing tunnels that range from 25 to 100 meters in vertical and horizontal mining shafts.
According to Burburan, small scale mining operations in the three towns are producing 50 tons of gold annually.
Asked if the widespread small scale mining and diggings would possibly trigger soil collapse in villages in the towns of Paracale, Jose Panganiban, and Labo, DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said that if subjected to extreme weather condition like heavy rainfall and earthquakes, the possibility of a disaster is not remote.
Gonzales said his office is still in the process of making an actual count of crisscrossing tunnels, including the abandoned ones.
He said the data would give them an in-depth study of the dangers being posed by the mining operations in the three mining towns.
With regards to the recent Paracale incident, the DENR confirmed that a mining pit tunnel collapsed where two of its miners were buried alive last Nov 27 in Sitio Balaay, Barangay Palanas, Paracale, CamNorte.
The DENR PENRO in CamNorte admitted that no mining permit was issued to Augusto Jordan the financier of the small-scale mining operation in barangay Palanas, Paracale.
Gonzales said that small scale mining operation in coastal villages in Paracale were suspended following the No Mining Order issued by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to local government units in that area.
Gonzales said that there was an order to close down all small scale mining operation in said coastal areas.
Asked how the DENR could control the issuance of small scale mining permits, Gonzales said his office had no hand in the issuance of permits as it is the domain of the provincial government under the local government code.
On the clamor of environmentalists to return the issuance of small scale mining permit and supervision to the DENR, Gonzales claims that a legislative action is needed to amend the Mining Act. – Bicol Mail