Mining curse

Miner buried alive at Aussie firm’s mine site

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–An artisanal miner was killed after he was buried while inside a tunnel in the remote village of Didipio in upland Kasibu town, site of a proposed large-scale mining project by a foreign company.

Supt. Domingo Lucas, acting police director, said the victim, one Job Ananayo, a small-scale miner from nearby Wangal village, was buried alive when the tunnel collapsed in the sub-village of Dinauyan, at around 11 a.m. on Sunday.


Lucas said they were still determining whether the tunnel collapse was caused by the miners’ blasting activities or soil erosion due to incessant rains in the past days.

The site is within the primary impact area of the proposed US$102-million mining project of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm. It is the location of the planned mine tailings dam that the company aims to construct.

The area has, however, become host to a number of small-scale mining tunnels after the landowner yielded his occupational rights to the company and abandoned what used to be a rice land, said Peter Duyapat, president of the Didipio Earthsavers Multi Purpose Association, a people’s organization.

Illegal small-scale mining remained unabated in Didipio, despite previous attempts of a crackdown by a joint task force composed of personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the provincial government’s environment office.

Residents said OceanaGold should also be held responsible for the miner’s death because it had allegedly been tolerating the illegal activities of small-scale miners in that site, access to which it had already bought from locals.

But company officials quickly disowned responsibility for Ananayo’s death, pre-empting speculations that the tunnel collapse could have been caused by the company’s earth-moving activities in the area.

Ramoncito Gozar, OceanaGold’s vice president for communications and external affairs, said the site of the cave-in is “kilometers away” from where their bulldozers were working.

Since December, OceanaGold has been doing earth-moving activities in the area, clearing parcels of land that had been abandoned by villagers who have agreed to sell their land to give way to the mining project.

The company’s pre-development activities, however, has been hampered by villagers who refused to sell to the company their rights over their lands.

Ananayo is the third death recorded since OceanaGold began preparations for the construction of the proposed mine plant.

In January 2006, Ananayo Namullag was killed by a dynamite explosion while inside one of the tunnels there, while Eugene Ansibey died after inhaling toxic fumes from a dynamite blast in June that year.

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10 thoughts on “Mining curse

  1. There goes a clear attempt to link a corporate miner to the death of an artisanal miner, a clear propaganda attempt to stop a licensed company in favor of an illegal miner. For the information of everybody, safety procedures are often (make it 100%) taken for granted by small scale miners. Unless, of course, you think that igniting a dynamite while inside a tunner is a classic case of personal safety given top priority.

  2. There go the apologists of OceanaGold again–they, who would rather hide under a disguised identity just be able to give the public the impression that their defense of the mining company is done supposedly by private individuals.

    The story talks about the moral responsibility that OceanaGold should assume over any tragic event that happens within its FTAA area, since it has already bought access to a number of parcels of private land in Didipio, including the site of the tunnel where Ananayo was killed.

    In other parts of its project area, OceanaGold restricts the unauthorized entry of people, even the locals themselves, ostensibly for safety purposes. If it can do this in such areas, why can’t it impose the same precaution in areas which are under the crosshairs of small-scale miners?

    OceanaGold officials say that these activities of small-scale miners in Didipio are illegal, period. It is as if they have a better right over these resources of Didipio than the locals, the Filipino people.

    If these activities of small-scale miners are illegal, why isn’t the company doing anything to stop them? Is this because company officials or employees are benefiting from these illegal acts? Why can’t OceanaGold guard its own premises against illegal activities?

    The story indicates that OceanaGold, along with the supposed regulatory agencies of government, should at least be morally responsible for Ananayo’s death for their negligence. This is just one clear picture of the corporate social responsibility that this company tries to project.

  3. Quote: [If these activities of small-scale miners are illegal, why isn’t the company doing anything to stop them? Is this because company officials or employees are benefiting from these illegal acts? Why can’t OceanaGold guard its own premises against illegal activities?]

    Melvin, I think the big responsibility here lies on our concerned agencies. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau, The Philippines National Police and the Local Government Units both Vizcaya and Quirino. They should be working hand in hand (closely) to STOP this illegal activities.

    These illegal miners are not from barangay Didipio. They came from Ifugao Province/or Baguio. You should know that.

    Will you just stare at someone digging at your own yard? Of course not!

  4. Geraldine, I agree with you totally that enforcement of the law on illegal small scale mining is vested on the MGB, local government and the police.

    But you should also know that the mining company that has jurisdiction over the mining area is also obliged to guard it against any illegal activity, for one, artisanal mining.

    Check the records. Did OceanaGold ever insist on its right to be protected against illegal miners? It could have sought court action to compel these agencies to enforce the law. It never did. Why?

  5. Melvin, I understand what you were saying but the fact that these agencies are aware of such illegal activities in the area of jurisdiction of this e foreign mining company, it is their RESPONSIBILITY to ACT IMMEDIATELY to protect the welfare and interest of everyone in that area. Why should they wait for the company to seek their assistance while they already know that several accidents already happened because these hard-headed illegal miners?

    I still believe that this company has done their part to protect their zone for illegal activity (though not documented as what you were claiming). But I put the blame on our concerned agencies for not doing their job religiously. Our leaders should be the number one to do campaigns against small-scale mining.

    For a multi-million company like Oceana, I think it is silly thing for them to just sit back and relax while these illegal activities are happening in their own area. If you were in their shoes, will you just sit back and relax?

    What is funny is that, small-scale miners can just do their illegal activities anytime they like it (freely!), while the legitimate mining companies who pass through tiny needles (for its etc., etc., blah, blah, blah) and has their own environmental protection, development program, and who pays taxes to the government cannot just do this…they are not supported by some people in the local government. I just wonder why? (grabe, hindi kinaya ng powers ko)! You might know the reason.

  6. Quote: [Check the records. Did OceanaGold ever insist on its right to be protected against illegal miners? It could have sought court action to compel these agencies to enforce the law. It never did. Why?]

    Really? There’s still a need for the company to compel the concerned agencies to enforce the law? You really think so?

    I could not understand why? That is the very reason why they were created–to serve and protect the people! If that would be the case, these agencies should not be existing then–WALA PALA SILANG SILBI. Just let the company and the people protect themselves!

    You know, we, the common citizens, the people having sit in the government, the agencies, the media, let us do our own job naman! Let us be responsible. Let us not blame only one. Everybody is equally responsible to what is happening here. We should not be biased.

    Let us see things in the right perspective!

  7. For a foreign company compelling Philippine agencies to protect themselves like in this case, I think this is a shameful act! Don’t you think? This is an obvious admittance that our government officials are sleeping! I want to think of hammer and a nail here.

    I understand that there was an agreement between the govt. and this foreign company (I’m not sure, but I hope that PROTECTION is also implied in the agreement). Perhaps we need to sit down for one day to fully understand the contents of the FTAA agreement.

  8. Don’t get me wrong here. I never meant that OceanaGold was solely to be blamed for this. I agree, government agencies are primarily responsible. What I’m saying is, the company is guilty of contributory negligence in this current situation where illegal miners continue their trade.

    This current scenario just shows how inutile this government is against all these illegal activities. It should then serve as a warning to us, to gauge whether or not this government can really guard against any violations in the mining industry, whether by a foreign company or the artisanal miners.

    Government has constantly given assurance that Filipinos should not worry about the entry of these foreign mining companies, that should they mess up and violate our laws, it will be there to go after them and make them answerable.

    And now, this. Do you still believe a government that is run by greed, personal interests and political accommodations?

  9. Quote: [What I’m saying is, the company is guilty of contributory negligence in this current situation where illegal miners continue their trade.]

    In what sense they are guilty of contributory negligence?

    Quote: [Government has constantly given assurance that Filipinos should not worry about the entry of these foreign mining companies, that should they mess up and violate our laws, it will be there to go after them and make them answerable.

    Way to go! With this Oceana company as your main concern, did they ever committed violations so far? All what I am hearing left and right are merely allegations. You should be specific.

    Quote; [Do you still believe a government that is run by greed, personal interests and political accommodations?]

    I don’t lose hope with the government. Every citizen is equally responsible and has its own share for what is happening. And I don’t commend government run by politicians like Governor Cuaresma and her allies. You should know her better than I do because I am a Quirinian.

    Quote: [This current scenario just shows how inutile this government is against all these illegal activities. It should then serve as a warning to us, to gauge whether or not this government can really guard against any violations in the mining industry, whether by a foreign company or the artisanal miners.]

    The govt can do that if they WILL NOT ACCEPT BRIBE from the mining companies.

    …And in my own limited understanding (and I am honest enought to admit this) Between the the artisanal miners and large-scale miners the government should be more wary with the former-the reason is self-explanatory.

  10. >> “In what sense they are (sic) guilty of contributory negligence?”

    Should you go to the area, you will understand what I am talking about. Illegal mining is happening there, right under the noses of company personnel.

    >> “With this Oceana company as your main concern, did they ever committed (sic) violations so far? All what I am hearing left and right are merely allegations. You should be specific.”

    You call them allegations because you simply rely on others’ statements. But go visit the area to personally see for yourself these violations as they are being committed against the local community.

    Besides, no violation is visible for someone who refuses to see reality, someone who refuses to listen to what the people are saying.

    >> “I don’t lose hope with the government. Every citizen is equally responsible and has its (sic) own share for what is happening. And I don’t commend government run by politicians like Governor Cuaresma and her allies. You should know her better than I do because I am a Quirinian.”

    So what is it then? You say you don’t lose hope in government, but admit at the same time that the current government in Nueva Vizcaya should not be commended.

    You’re right, I know a lot about Governor Cuaresma but I do not have the liberty to discuss all of it in a public forum such as this one. 😉

    >> “The govt can do that if they WILL NOT ACCEPT BRIBE from the mining companies.”

    So you, too, admit (you were even very emphatic) that government officials actually received bribe from, or are vulnerable to corruption by foreign mining companies. ‘Nuf said.. 🙂

    >> “And in my own limited understanding (and I am honest enought to admit this) Between the the (sic) artisanal miners and large-scale miners the government should be more wary with (sic) the former-the reason is self-explanatory.”

    You seem to put the small scale miners (who are indigenous peoples and Filipinos) and the foreign mining companies on equal footing. I suggest you read the 1987 Constitution.

    More wary of small scale miners? I don’t get it, sorry. If you’re referring to the traditional and often risky methods that these miners employ, an honest-to-goodness regulation can do the trick. But it again brings us back to the issue on the competence of government to perform this function.

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