Leody to South Cotabato: Ban on open-pit mining must remain

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2022 03:36 AM

mining

MANILA – Labor leader Leody de Guzman on Tuesday called on South Cotabato to reverse its decision to lift a ban on open-pit mining.

The provincial council earlier adopted a resolution removing the final regulatory obstacle for a long-delayed copper and gold project in South Cotabato.

The Tampakan project has been described by developer Sagittarius Mines as "one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world."

De Guzman, who ran for president in this year’s elections, called on South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tam to veto the resolution, saying it was not a coincidence it was approved a week after the 2022 national and local elections.

"Pinalipas lamang ng mga sakim na bukrata ang eleksyon bago pahintulutan muli ang Tampakan gold-copper project sa patuloy na pagsira sa kalikasan at pagbalahura sa ancestral domain ng tribong B’laan," he said in a statement.

De Guzman called open pit mining "the worst way" for people to mine minerals.

"Dahil inuuka ang bundok mula sa itaas, pinapatayan ng open-mining ang lahat ng tanim, hayop at iba pang buhay na nilalang gaya ng mga microorganism sa miniminang lugar. Iniiwan nitong disyerto ang binungkal na lupain. Kahit maglunsad pa ng replanting, hindi na maibabalik pa ang dating balanse ng ekolohiya," he said.

"Malaking peligro din ang polusyon, ang paglason sa water resources, na ilang milyang layo pa ang epekto mula sa mining site."

De Guzman stressed the lives of locals and future generations depend on the biodiversity that will be affected if the open pit mining will be approved in the area.

"Ito ang totoong mahalaga. Hindi ang monetary value o halagang sinusukat ng pera. Hindi ang gabaryang buwis na nakukuha ng gobyerno sa pagmimina. Hindi ang malilikhang peligrosong trabaho na nagsusukli lamang ng kakarampot na sweldo. At lalong hindi ang bilyong-bilyong tubo ng mga mining companies, na makakamkam nila sa pagkasira ng kalikasan at ekolohiya," he said.

After the provincial council lifted the ban, it was also condemned by a local Catholic church group, which described it as a "tragedy."

"The amendment allows all forms of mining, including open pit, in the province. And the future of the province was decided in less than 15 minutes," said Fr. Jerome Millan of the Diocese of Marbel.

The Tampakan project was previously estimated to cost $5.9 billion and was due to start operation in 2016. 

But it has faced numerous problems, including the local government's 2010 ban on open-cast mining and opposition from church, community and environmental groups. – With a report from Agence France-Presse

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