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Coalition urges black sand mining ban

Marine ecosystem in region under serious threat, activists say

  • Ronald O. Reyes, Tacloban City
  • Philippines
  • May 24, 2012
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The Regional Peasant Alliance in the Eastern Visayas called yesterday for an immediate ban on magnetite mining, saying it causes erosion of coastal areas, flooding and degradation of the region's marine ecosystem.

Nestor Lebico, head of the alliance, said the government has failed to make mining companies comply with the rules imposed by the mines bureau.

The alliance has also demanded a new mining law and the involvement of communities in the issuance and cancellation of mining permits.

Mining in the region covers an area of 507,746 hectares, almost one quarter of the total land area, and magnetite mining covers just under a third of the mining area, Lebico said.

The benefit gained by people from mining is insignificant compared to the destruction of the environment, agriculture and livelihood he said, adding that many people have been displaced because of the extensive mining of magnetite.

Pamalakaya, a group representing fishermen in the Eastern Visayas, claims that there have been 107 offshore mining applications in the region, 17 of which were for magnetite – commonly known as black sand.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau, however, denied claims of large-scale magnetite mining in the region.

Dante Operario, information officer of the mines bureau in the region, said today that the bureau has 13 offshore and seven offshore applications pending for magnetite mining.

He said the bureau also six mineral production sharing agreements with six mining companies.

"Overall, we have more than a hundred applications for mineral extraction in the region."

The peasant alliance also blame mining operations for a fish kill in Lake Bito in Leyte province that led to a loss of 1.87 million pesos (US$43,500) in people's income, although government and mining officials point to other causes.

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