Illegal mining poses hazards to environment and healthThursday, July 05, 2012 07:53 AM Views : 610Karen V. Bermejo
Illegal mining activities hurt the environment and hamper progress because of uncollected taxes, according to Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Director Leo Van Juguan.
In an interview in yesterday's Kapihan sa Bali, Juguan said illegal mining operators have not applied for environmental compliance certificate (ECC) at the MGB.
An ECC proves that a project will not bring about unacceptable environmental impact and that the proponent has complied with the requirements of the environmental impact statement system.
"One of the main environmental and health hazards caused by small-scale mining is the widespread release of mercury," he said.
Mercury is used in extracting gold and in most cases, is released directly to the streams which eventually end up consumed by humans, thereby causing health problems.
He said "areas with illegal mining activities are prone to landslides and other disasters."
Meanwhile, the government cannot extract taxes from illegal miners, Juguan said.
He explained that for registered small-scale mining activities on gravel and sand, the operator and the local government unit have a sharing agreement.
"P20 per cubic meter goes to the LGU. Two percent of the produce's sale further goes to the national government," he said.
Thus, he urged the LGUs to help stop illegal mining operations in their areas.
Meanwhile, Juguan confirmed there are illegal mining operations in the controversial island of Calagnaan in the municipality of Carles.
He said that last February, the MGB has conducted an investigation in the area and discovered that there were traces of illegal mining activities but no culprit was found.
The issue on illegal mining in the island cropped up after a violence that erupted in the island, wherein two workers of the Calagnaan Agro-Industrial Corporation (CAIC) were killed by two bodyguards of the company's owner Eric Lacson.
However, Mayor Arnold Betita of Carles, said that the incident stemmed from drunkenness and not from illegal mining concerns.
After what happened, the MGB noted that the value of one gram of gold is already P1,200.
Juguan encouraged the CAIC to file a case against those involved in illegal mining.
He said illegal miners are subject to a fine of P30,000 and imprisonment of six months to six years or both, depending on the court's decision.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office 6 has formed a fact-finding committee to investigate allegations made by Mayor Betita that Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, police director of Negros Occidental, and Supt. Giovanni Musico, deputy director for administration of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) are protectors of illegal miners in Calagnaan.
Senior Supt. Manuel Felix, deputy police regional director for administration said the committee is waiting for Carles LGU's go-signal to start the investigation.