Villagers protest Aussie firm's open-pit mining in Masbate

Posted at 03/17/2009 11:24 AM

Thousands of villagers in Aroroy town, Masbate province are fighting an open-pit mining operations of an Australian-owned company, citing possible toxic waste spillage.

Led by the Association of Concerned Residents of Aroroy (ACRA), residents and religious have been holding protest actions since Saturday against the open-pit mining operations of Makati-based Filminera Resource Corp.

ACRA Chairman Marcial Velasco said they fear Filminera company's open-pit mining operations will destroy the environment, possibly resulting to a toxic waste spillage, since the mining firm uses cyanide in gold ores processing.

Velasco said the fragile environment of Aroroy will be sacrificed if the operation will continue.

He said a river in Barangay Panique in Aroroy is already “doomed” because of the operation. He added that two more rivers may also be affected by the Australian company’s operation.
 
Aside from the environmental degradation, Velasco added that Aroroy town will not benefit from the multi-billion peso mining investment since the company has filed a tax holiday, making them exempt from paying any taxes.

An ACRA study revealed that the mining firm, which primarily produces high-grade gold, will earn P1 billion a month.

Filminera also continued operating despite a cease and desist order issued by the local government of Aroroy Friday last week for failure to secure a permit to operate in the area.
 
Rodne Galicha’s Alyansa Tigil Mina said the reason Filminera enjoys certain perks is due to lapses in the implementation of the Mining Act of 1995, which the organization is pushing to abolish.

Galicha said an alternative mining bill that will be filed in Congress when it resumes sessions, would benefit not only the giant mining firms but also the small scale miners.