By Lilian Mellejor
The Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PMDC) will demolish the batch-type mini CIP (Carbon in Pulp) and ball mills at the Diwalwal gold area after their owners failed to apply for relocation to Mabatas in Monkayo, Compostela Valley province.
PMDC Chairman and President Alberto S. Sipaco Jr. said the government corporation will utilize Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police troops in the demolition if necessary.
The move came after the June 11 deadline set by PMDC for the owners to file an application to be relocated to the Mineral Processing Zone in Mabatas.
High mercury contamination levels at the Naboc River have prompted the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to recommend the transfer of mineral processing from the gold rush area.
The MGB noted that the Mabatas processing zone remains the ideal site for mineral processing as it has a tailings containment facility, preventing the direct discharge or throwing of highly toxic wastes from the plants to the waterways, including the Naboc River.
The P200-million Mabatas dam, established in 2003, has never been used by small-scale miners for gold processing, Sipaco told the local media during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw.
Sipaco said 23 ball mills and CIP plants are actively operating in Diwalwal, but their owners have failed to apply for relocation on the last day of filing.
From 2003 to the present, he said, 333 CIP and ball mills have been operating in the area, but 100 of them are already inactive or abandoned, and only 210 have applied for relocation.
Sipaco vowed to implement PMDC’s mandate to clean Diwalwal of pollution and contamination. The PMDC spearheads the government’s initiative to develop the 8,100-hectare Diwalwal Mineral Reservation Area, including the Diwalwal gold rush area in Mt. Diwata, Compostela Valley.
Last year, Sipaco issued a cease and desist order and the transfer of the processing plants due to siltation and mercury pollution of the Naboc River waterways and downstream farmlands up to the Agusan provinces.
He also cited the prevalent mercury poisoning of the workers and residents, the unsafe conditions due to accidents, landslide and tunnel cave-ins, and the underground conflicts among small-scale miners.
Sipaco also directed the demolition of makeshift shelters and shanties used in the mineral processing operations.
After the deadline of the application for relocation, he said PMDC will seek the court’s permission for the removal and dismantling of all equipment, machinery tools and other facilities directly and indirectly used in the processing operations.
Last year, lawyer Felix Alicer, PMDC regional coordinator, disclosed that the transfer of the CIP and ball mill plants was planned when Compostela Valley’s provincial government allocated P4 million to fund the land preparation and develop the road network to Mabatas.
Alicer said the development should have been handled by the national government through the Natural Reservation Development Corp., which was in charge of collecting and allocating mining share and the issuance of service contracts for miners operating 600 ft. within the 729-hectare area.
The province’s initiative was the only way to operate the ball mill, he said, adding that the transfer of the CIP and ball mill plants could take a year.
Mt. Diwata barangay captain Pedro Samillano, in an earlier interview, said there were 48 mine tunnels in Mt. Diwata. He said that of the 10,400 total population of Mt. Diwata, 70 percent are miners. (PNA)