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Koko: Make Mt. Diwalwal a test case vs illegal mining

TO PROVE that the government is sincere in its campaign against illegal mining, Senate President Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III wants to make as a test case the issue of Mt. Diwalwal in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley.

He also asked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to act quickly and translate the President’s all- out war against abusive gold miners into action and stop their destructive actions in the environment.


Mercury Poisoning

“I already asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to probe the mining site because the mercury being illegally scattered in Diwalwal has already reached the other water systems in Mindanao like the Agusan River,” said Pimentel.

"Mercury and other deadly chemicals are poisoning not only residents of Compostela Valley but also nearby areas," added Pimentel.

He also added that the DENR should stop the use of the banned metal to spare the lives of the people in Mindanao.

This developed as he also asked Cimatu to monitor the full compliance of mining firms in the quick clean-up, restoration and rehabilitation of all areas damaged by mining operations, especially in areas close to watersheds and forests and should impose the heaviest penalties to protect the people living near mining sites and the environment.

Pimentel said the Senate will include in its priority agenda proposed amendments to the mining law to ensure the sustainable use of land and the protection and preservation of natural resources.


Worst Mining Site

Mount Diwata or Mount Diwalwal, tagged as the largest gold deposit in the world by the DENR is one of the worst mining sites in the country, with many illegal miners operating every day, making it also one of the dangerous places in the country.

The place is nearly impossible to live, making roads impassable because of rubbish, waste and excrements being washed away by the ever-running water. 

It is also never quiet – the rod mills, which are used to pulverize the extracted stones for further processing, never stop turning. 

Pimentel also identified some 18,000 artisanal miners in Diwalwal and other mining sites in Compostela Valley are using mercury to separate gold particles from rocks almost every day, a very dangerous process that leads to highly- toxic exposure and health risks.

He said the Philippines is a signatory to an international treaty, banning the use of mercury in gold extraction, but gold miners in Compostela have refused to ditch their old methods. (Mico Agustin)

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Thursday, 16 August 2018
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