August 23, 2009 in Cordillera
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
MANKAYAN, Benguet The residents of Mankayan together with the Local Government Unit (LGU) were convinced that the underground of the municipality is void because of poorly back-filled mining tunnels therefore causing massive sinking and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) be held liable and compensate the people.
In a forum held in the municipal hall of Mankayan, Geologist Rick Saturay of the Philippine Center for Environmental Concerns presented observations and study on the area where a massive land subsidence took place. Saturay showed the audience the difference between land subsidence and landslides.
Saturay said that the possible causes of land subsidence are geologically weak lithology and rock formation, faults and creeping soil, topography where there are steep slopes, hydrologic conditions there are high rainfalls, high water table, gully and headwater erosion, blasting and the most probable is voids in the underground.
Saturay explained to the Mankayan folks that adverse geologic, topographic and hydrologic conditions are persistent in a larger area . He said that there should be similar sites of land subsidence in the municipality but it was observed that the latest sinking incident is mainly confined in Aurora Street, Barangay Poblacion. He added that the three stated conditions are less likely to be the major factors causing Aurora to sink.
Poorly back-filled tunnels underneath unanimously acknowledged
Saturay explained further that voids on the other hand are relatively localized. They can be a major cause if they exist beneath the subsidence area. He then asked the audience if there are voids in the subsidence area and how stable they are.
Saturay then cited testimonies of incomplete back-filling of mined-out tunnels, the use of erodible back-fill materials, the irresponsible mining of tunnel pillars, and he also explained the weak rocks due to faulting and mineralization. Saturay asked the audience if they believed that voids are present underneath the subsidence area. Almost all of the audience including the Mankayan officials raised their hands in agreement.
Saturay further said the presence of voids are highly probable and some of them may have already collapsed and may have caused the subsidence. Initial conclusions were presented at the forum, that voids underground may be influencing much the location of the subsidence, and that there are voids due to poorly back-filled mine tunnels beneath the subsidence area in Aurora St. It was said that mining activities by LCMC are the major cause of the large-scale subsidence in the municipality.
LGU to pass resolution to stop LCMC’s mining operations
Mankayan Sangguniang Bayan members after the forum expressed intentions to pass a resolution addressing the issues brought about from the mining operations of LCMC. Mankayan Councilor Richard Kilaan said that the council is bent on passing a resolution for the temporary stoppage of Lepanto’s mining operations pending the municipal government’s call on the company to settle the issues it is currently facing.
Kilaan said the council is giving the Lepanto time to produce the geological map and the mining plan or assay map of their operations. Kilaan said this will be of much help as it will serve as a major basis in determining whether the Mankayan sinking will be attributed to the mining operations of Lepanto and pinpoint who is really liable. They will also ask the company to help in rehabilitating the damaged municipality and compensate the victims of the disasters.
Kilaan said that while Lepanto is giving the municipal government P10, 000 a month and sacks of cement, this is not sufficient and it is unfair. Kilaan added that Lepanto should not forget it’s corporate responsibility while accumulating billions of profits from the long years of mining in the municipality. He said that the company should return the favor to it’s host community by helping in the rehabilitation, development and compensation to the residents.
The councilor also added that they will also ask Lepanto to settle its issues with its mine workers. The workers complained that the company continuously delays their salary and they even get partial payments if the company happens to pay. Lepanto was also reported not remitting the SSS premiums of the workers amounting to around P110 million.
Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance Vice-Chairperson Xavier Akien said they strongly support the positive actions of the Mankayan council. He said that it is really high time for the Mankayan to demand from Lepanto to give in to the sentiments of the people and carry-on it’s responsibility over the disasters it’s mining operations have brought in Mankayan. “This initiative coming from the officials of Mankayan is long overdue yet a great servitude to their constituents, they should be firm enough to be on the side of the Mankayan folks to hold Lepanto liable for the sinking and let them compensate the affected communities. # nordis.net