Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Zamboanga del Norte bans open-pit mining

A mining area in Zamboanga Peninsula. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 2, 2011) – Tribesmen and religious leaders opposed to mining in Zamboanga del Norte praised passage of an ordinance banning open-pit mining in the southern Philippine province.

South Cotabato last year also passed a similar ordinance that banned open-pit mining because of its dangers and effect to the environment.

And Zamboanga del Norte has followed suit – passing the same ordinance that native tribesmen and Catholic priests have been advocating in the past years. The ordinance is expected to draw serious concerns for mining firms in Zamboanga del Norte and could trigger similar ordinances in neighboring Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur.

Tribesmen have accused mining firms of encroaching in their ancestral domain and Catholic priests have previously protested mining activities in Zamboanga del Norte, citing its negative effects and pollution to the environment.

Mining firms in the province have been extracting gold, silver and copper the past years on the strength of agreements it forged with different indigenous groups that allow them to continue on with open-pit mining.

But the taxes it paid to the government and the indigenous groups is a pittance to hundreds of millions of pesos it get from the mining activities, mostly inside ancestral domain, claimed by tribesmen, who also accused mining firms of violating their rights.

Open-pit mining or opencast refers to a method of extracting rock or minerals from earth, and is typically enlarged until either the mineral resource is exhausted. The pit is then converted to landfills for disposal of solid wastes. However, some form of water control is usually required to keep the mine pit from becoming a lake. (Mindanao Examiner)

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