The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) welcomes the recommendation for the temporary suspension of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DENR). On the other hand, CPA is disappointed that the Philex Mining Company is not included in the recommendation for suspension by the DENR.
Jill Carino, Vice Chairperson of CPA said that, “The suspension by the DENR is a good move especially now that the downstream communities are experiencing the long term effects of LCMC operation.” Carino added that, “More importantly, the recommended suspension of LCMC is also a result of the peoples struggle against the mining company due to its environmental impact on their communities.”
In 2015, the operations of the LCMC in Mankayan, Benguet, brought disaster to the people of the southern Abra river basin. Towards the end of August 2015, Lepanto’s mine tailings either overtopped their dam or were deliberately released by the company to reduce pressure that was building up behind the dam from the heavy rains unleashed by Typhoon Ineng (or Goni). In any case, the tailings entered the Abra river system. The Abra swelled and flooded over, depositing some of the tailings at its junctures with its tributaries, clogging these and thus causing upstream flooding. As it continued downstream, still laden with tailings, the turbulent Abra washed away some irrigation dikes and rice fields. Where the land flattened, it flooded this and deposited the tailings. The damage affected at least 500 peasant households in the municipalities of Mankayan in Benguet, Cervantes, Quirino, and San Emilio in Ilocos Sur, and Tubo in Abra province.
In this regard, an Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) will be conducted on November 21-27, 2016 which will further investigate the effects of LCMC operation to the environment and to the lives of the indigenous peoples.
Carino, on the other hand, stated that, “The non-inclusion of the Philex mining for recommendation for suspension is disappointing. Philex mines committed environmental crimes through its decades-long operations including the collapse of its tailings pond in 2012.”
Lastly, Carino said that, “CPA supports the communities of Mankayan and along the Abra river in their call for the closure of LCMC. And we look forward for more cancellation of destructive mining operations in the country.”