A MINE worker died and at least three others went missing when part of the rain-soaked slopes of Carmen Pit, the only active open pit at the Toledo copper mines, collapsed, resulting in a landslide at past 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.
Biga Barangay Captain Pedro Sepada Jr. said he received reports that one worker had been confirmed dead while three miners from his barangay were unaccounted for.
He said miners rescued from the site were rushed to the Carmen Copper Hospital. Sepada said he did not know how many other workers were at the site.
Mine operator Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC), a subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., said the landslide occurred at around 4:15 p.m. on Monday.
The company blamed the incessant rains in the past several months and the rains brought by Tropical Depression Vicky on Friday, Dec. 18.
“The management of CCC is doing all the necessary action to assess and address the overall situation. We will continue to inform the concerned agencies as well as the general public of further developments,” the company said in a statement.
Police Col. Junnel Caadlawon, Toledo City Police chief, said CCC stopped the search and rescue operations as of 9 p.m. Monday as the area remained unstable and dangerous to rescuers.
Members of the Toledo City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, who rushed to the area, were not allowed to enter the company premises.
In a Facebook post Monday evening, the Toledo City Public Information Office said Mayor Joie Piczon-Perales had ordered all government agencies to help in the search and rescue operations.
The Toledo copper mines, sprawled across four villages, are situated about 50 kilometers west of Cebu City. These used to be the biggest copper mine in Asia, but Atlas halted operations in 1994 due to falling copper prices.
CCC rehabilitated the mines in 2007 and resumed operations in 2008, producing an average of 42,000 dry metric tons (DMT) of copper ore daily.
Only the Carmen Pit is active. The Biga Pit has been decommissioned and currently serves as the mine tailings storage facility while the Lutopan Pit, which still holds ore reserves of about 180 million metric tons, is expected to resume operations in 2021.
Atlas and CCC hold operating rights over the Toledo mines covering 1,676 hectares. The mines, which are the only metallic mines in Central Visayas, are part of Atlas’ mineral property of roughly 5,000 hectares. (MVG with ANV)