Tubay town seeks closure of mining operations in Agusan del Norte
Butuan City (27 November) -- The municipal government of Tubay, Agusan del Norte has endorsed a resolution seeking a halt in the mining operation of SR Metal, Inc. in the province amid reports of environmental degradation and destruction and hazard to health of residents living in the area.
The local government of Tubay also asked for the cancellation of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of the company for alleged failure to pay municipal taxes, business permit for several years that accrued up to P100 million at present and the provinces' extraction fees amounting to P119.94 million inclusive of 25 percent surcharge and two percent monthly penalty since 2008.
Copies of a five-page Sanggunian Resolution No. 117-2010, which was approved on Nov 15 this year for endorsement to Malacanang, was also sent to Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and other concerned government agencies.
In an exclusive interview, Agusan del Norte Vice Gov. Enrico Corvera said that the resolution of Tubay municipal council was already endorsed early this week for Pres. Aquino's "evaluation and favorable action".
"We are endorsing their (La Fraternidad, Tubay officials) complaint to the President for him to evaluate," he said.
The endorsement of the resolution came out after series of consultation and public hearing conducted by the Committee on Environment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, (SP) chaired by Board member Joseph Tomaneng. "There is a valid reason to endorse the complaint," said Tomaneng.
The committee conducted several public hearings to verify the validity and severity of various complaints filed by the residents and barangay officials of La Fraternidad and the municipal officials of Tubay.
It alleged that the company violated the terms and conditions of the Memorandum Agreement (MOA) signed between the company and the barangay.
The operation of the mining firm has destructive effects, irresponsible mining policies, no alleged rehabilitation's done after mining a certain area, the environment became polluted due to the alleged presence of heavy dust, mud, silts in the sea, stock piles near residential areas, unsafe drinking water due to alleged erosion, contamination of dust and destruction of water system.
On the other hand, Tubay fisherfolk also complained the sedimentation of their fishing grounds and fish sanctuaries and oil spillage that allegedly resulted in the death of many of marine species and destruction of coral reefs.
"Both the local government of Tubay and the provincial government do not enjoy any financial, social and environmental benefit from the mining operations of the company, and the provincial government cannot afford to close its eyes to the clamor of the people of Tubay, including its local government" according to the resolution.
"This is the reason that the provincial legislative board endorsed the resolution of La Fraternidad and Tubay to Pres. Aquino for him to finally evaluate," said Corvera.
However, the initial findings conducted by the multi-partite monitoring team, composed of DENR, Environment Management Bureau, Mines Geo-Sciences Bureau and other concerned government and non-government agencies showed that the company did not violate any environmental destruction.
According to some officials of the multi-partite monitoring team, they were still continuing their investigation on the complaint of barangay and municipal officials of Tubay.
Ryan Anthony Culima,SR Metals vice president for communisty relations, belied allegations by residents, saying they were "not true and baseless," "These issues have no basis," Culima said.
He also said MGB did not issue any environmental violations against the company during their recent inspection and verification, "because we are adhering to all environmental preservation and forest protection".
"We are also complying our social obligations to the local communities," Culima said.
SR Metals currently operates a mine site in La Fraternidad in Tubay town. The company is the holder of the government's 25 year MPSA covering an area of about 572 hectares. The Tubay mine contains nickel deposits of at least 30 million tons of validated ore reserves to date. Surrounded by placid waters and favorable weather, SR Metals prides itself on efficient mining operations through the proper use of the most modern and state of the art equipment to avert any environmental destruction.
The firm has also a large fleet of brand new mining equipment composed of articulated trucks, excavators, drilling machines, loaders, etc. This allows the firm to move up to 100,000 tons of ore per day.
However, due to very low price of nickel ore in the world market, the company slowdown their operation the past months, it was further gathered. (MUC/PIA-Caraga) [top]