Climate and Environment

DENR issues notice of violation to miner after mudslide

DENR issues notice of violation to miner after mudslide
Photo shows the central office of Department of Environment and Natural Resources
DENR Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a notice of violation to a gold miner after the collapse of a portion of its tailing storage facility triggered a mudslide in Surigao del Norte. 

Greenstone Resources Corp. (GRC) received a notice of violation from DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for violating the terms of its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and provisions of the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, the department said on Wednesday. 

An investigation conducted by EMB Caraga revealed a crack along the foot of the embankment of tailings storage facility (TSF) 3, an old structure used by the company’s previous owner, in Mainit town. A TSF holds mineral waste remaining after ore processing. 

The leak from the TSF damaged 25 houses, power lines, and coconut trees in Barangay Siana. The tailings also reached the village road. 

According to the DENR, no casualties were reported after GRC and the community implemented safety measures. The company also stopped its operations. 

“The EMB report stated that the eroded tailings downstream of the TSF and those that are still inside the facility are exposed and vulnerable to runoff water during heavy downpour anytime of the day and are liable to be washed into the nearest bodies of water,” the environment agency said. 

The report also warned the risk of polluting Magpayang River and other downstream water bodies is “very high” due to the large volume of unsecured tailings, which may still contain hazardous chemicals from past mineral processing. 

EMB recommended that GRC submit remedial measures to address the immediate needs and impacts of the incident, to determine the volume of displaced tailings from the TSF, and develop a long-term program for rehabilitation and cleanup activities. 

The bureau also advised the mining company to provide regular updates on the status of its response operations, conduct water sampling at established sampling stations to closely monitor contamination levels, and conduct a root-cause analysis of the incident. 

GRC is a wholly owned subsidiary of TVI Resource Development Philippines. 

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga earlier said that infrastructure failures highlight the “urgent need for monitoring, regulation and oversight in the mining industry to de-risk operations and prevent incidents in the future.”

The Philippines aims to revitalize its mining industry, aiming to attract investment and accelerate economic recovery post-pandemic. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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