Issue of November 5, 2017
     
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2017
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River pollution derails minahang bayan plan
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The recent findings of high levels of cyanide at the Ambalanga River in Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet could jeopardize plans of small scale miners in the area to apply for a minahang bayan permit.

The proposed minahang bayan is within the mineral claims of Benguet Corporation.

Aside from the incident’s adverse effects on the environment, Mayor Vic Palangdan said economic and social impact is also likely because of the cease and desist order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Around 12,000 families depend on small-scale mining for their livelihood.  

“The local government is helping them avail of minahang bayan permit, and then this happened,” Palangdan said referring to the pending small-scale mining ordinance by the sangguniang bayan.

After receiving reports that water in the Ambalanga River turned blue, Palangdan said barangay officials and other small-scale miners groups were deployed at the area to verify the information posted on social media.

The Environmental Management Bureau-CAR also released on Oct. 4 a report on the results of the tests made on one of three sample stations along the river. It showed that the river contained 12.6 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of cyanide, which far exceeded the water quality standard of 0.1 mg/l for class C freshwater.

An inventory by the MGB-CAR, Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Itogon police, Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners Associations, barangays Tuding and Gumatdang, and other small-scale miners associations also showed that of 146 small-scale mining processing plants, over 60 processing plants effluents and tailings are discharged directly into the river.

The team identified a total of 146 small-scale mining processing plants, which include 16 carbon-in-pulp, 55 carbon-in-leach or leach pads and 75 ball mills.

Palangdan said he is waiting for the official transmission of the report so the LGU can act accordingly. He said the LGU is planning on assisting the small-scale miners by allotting funds for the construction of a communal waste containment area.


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