Residents rally to support mining
Environment concerns are "baseless," say islanders
Islanders gather to support exploration activities
About a thousand residents of Placer town in Surigao del Norte province gathered yesterday in front of the town hall to show support for mining operations in the area. The residents, who took an hour-long motorboat ride from the island village of Masapelid, gathered to appeal for an extension of exploration activities of Bundok Mineral Resources Corporation, an affiliate of Australian-based company Lindian Limited Resources. “The people are not opposed to mining. In fact, the people have seen the good effects of mining,” said village leader Eutiquio Saga, Jr., who attended the event, which included a prayer vigil. He added that people living on the island were in a better position to assess what is best for them. Bundok employs about 200 people, including 80 full-time workers. Residents at the rally said they have become victims of “a few anti-mining residents” on the island whose complaints over environmental destruction and labor problems are “unfounded and baseless.” Supporters of mining in the area say that Bundok not only plants trees but has also set up schools for workers’ children. The provincial government of Surigao del Norte, however, voted unanimously yesterday to investigate alleged violations committed by the mining company in Placer. Engineer Ador Patino of the Mines Management Division reported that they found "deficiencies" in the construction of access roads in the mine site. The mines bureau has also classified the island as a geohazard area prone to landslides. Jon Felipe Agcol, consultant of the mining firm, however, said the company has become a victim of government’s inaction. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has ordered the company "to refrain from further conduct of any exploration activity in the contract area" in a letter signed October 3. In an earlier letter, the bureau denied the mining company's request for an extension of its exploration activities. Under the country's mining law, a mining company is only allowed an eight-year exploration period.