Saturday, March 19, 2011

Villagers rally vs. mining in Philippine province

MANILA, Philippines - Villagers held a rally Saturday against an alleged illegal blacksand mining operation in the town of Gonzaga in Cagayan province in the northern Philippines.

Some 2,000 people from the villages of Batangan, Calayan, and Minanga rallied in front of the Beijing-based Huaxia firm which was allegedly issued a government permit to gather magnetite sand over two 20-hectare land that covers residential and coastal areas in the town.

“Construction work of Huaxia is already starting and the people fear of its impacts to the communities, primarily because the permit covers their villages and permits were given without a public consultation,” one villager alleged.

Environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina said it is supporting the locals who are demanding the government to revoke the mining permit issued to Huaxia Mining and Trading Corporation on December 12 last year.

“Clearly, the leadership of Cagayan Valley province do not listen to the peoples call — the people do not want any kind of mining there. Especially now that impacts of climate change are increasing, the government should be more careful about the projects that they are pursuing,” ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera said in a statement.

Initial research shows that magnetite mining causes agricultural and environmental problems. The report also cites that black sand mining in coastal areas have resulted in erosion, inundation of communities, and degradation of marine ecosystem.

In 2009, ATM sent a team to look into the reported beach erosion in Cagayan province allegedly due to the illegal black sand mining operations in the area.

“The permit should definitely be canceled, first because there was no public consultation conducted and second but not of less importance is that this activity will put the communities and even the whole island at great environmental risks,” Garganera said.

There were no immediate statement from Huaxia.

ATM is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of nongovernmental and people's organizations and other civil society organizations which are opposing aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

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