By Philippine News Agency
Mining firms particularly in Mindanao have joined forces to help in the rescue and relief efforts in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte after it was struck by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake Friday evening.According to Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) chairman Art Disini, relief goods have been prepared by the mining firms to be distributed to the affected residents while mine workers professionally trained in rescue missions will be on hand to work with government in its operations.
Among the companies in the area, Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) reported that no mine worker or resident in their host communities perished or were hurt during the earthquake.
It also reported zero damages to its facilities.
For its part, CTP Construction CEO Carlo Pimentel said their mine workers and residents in host communities are safe.
He, however, said that CTP is still conducting an assessment on its facilities.
“Emergency response teams from CTP are already on standby and are coordinating with the Bureau of Fire Protection and partner government agencies to see how the company could ably assist in post disaster efforts,” he said.
According to Pimentel, CTP will see to providing immediate needs such as temporary shelters and clean water.
He assured that mining companies in Surigao “are working hand in hand to help our kababayans in need.”
The Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. (SMMCI) also reported no major damage or injuries to its facilities and personnel.
The company said its Emergency Rescue Teams are on standby in case needed.
Disini said the Chamber continues to wait for reports from its other member companies there.
“Our prayers go out to the families affected by the earthquake. Mining firms in different parts of the country are often called upon to conduct rescue missions during earthquakes and have been lauded for their effort during these times of disaster,” he said.
Meanwhile, mining engineering students of the country’s premier university have joined the snowballing call for “transparency and full disclosure” in the mining audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on 28 mining operations across the country that it had ordered shut down or suspended.
In a statement, the University of the Philippines Mining Engineering Society (UP MINERS) said the suspension and closure orders issued by DENE Secretary Regina Lopez on the 28 mine sites “implies unemployment of new graduates of Mining Engineering, Geology, Metallurgical Engineering and other affected fields.”
“In light of the recent events of mine suspensions and closures without legal basis, we, the University of the Philippines Mining Engineering Society (UP MINERS), reiterate our stance and advocacies toward responsible mining and call for transparency in the process of the mining audit done by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” the organization said.
“For as long as the transparency of the mining audit remains inaccessible, as future engineers, we shall keep invoking our right to access detailed information regarding the said mining audit in order for us to know what needs to be improved in the industry and to aid in the advancement of the profession towards environmental protection so as to avoid the suspension of more mining companies compromising jobs and Filipino families,” they added.
As students of the University of the Philippines, the group said that they “uphold honor, excellence, and the values of responsible mining. We thus challenge the government to do the same.”
The UP MINERS, whose primary goal is to advance the Mining Engineering profession and help ensure responsible mining, questioned the credibility of the audit done by Lopez on the 28 affected mine sites.
Even mine sites with an international ISO-14001 certification that was acquired after over almost a year of audit and “which the (DENR) Secretary initially deemed sufficient to demonstrate a company’s high standards,” have not passed the audit done by Lopez’s team that consisted mostly of non-experts, including anti-mining representatives, the organization pointed out.
The UP Miners questioned how an audit done by Lopez’s team was eventually preferred over an audit conducted based on international standards.
“The action by the DENR has instigated issues of employment panic and dilemma to future engineers and scientists of the industry, aside from the questionable mining audit itself,” the organization said. “It defeats the purpose of studying the technicalities and philosophies of the field and the industry when the industry itself is without a defined standard acceptable to the government.”
The association said placing in jeopardy the future of new graduates and students of Mining Engineering, Geology, Metallurgical Engineering and other affected fields, along with the plight of some 1.2 million people in the affected mine sites, is a “contradiction to the Secretary’s philosophy of anti-suffering.”