THREE died and seven others are still missing after a landslide hit the Carmen Pit of Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) in Toledo City Monday afternoon, December 21, 2020.
Rescue operations were stopped at 9 p.m. Monday as the area was assessed unstable and dangerous to rescuers, Toledo City Police Chief Col. Junnel Caadlawon told SunStar.
Biga Barangay Captain Pedro Sepada Jr., who is at the area of the accident, said the rescue operation is yet to resume around 8 in the morning Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Sepada confirmed that from one dead miner Monday night, two more bodies were retrieved while unaccounted miners are now seven from three.
CCC in a statement released Monday night confirmed the “slide” that happened at Carmen Pit around 4:15 p.m. Monday.
CCC said the landslide was due to the “incessant rains for the past several months and aggravated by Typhoon Vicky which hits parts of the Visayas, including Toledo City on Dec. 18, 2020."
There was no confirmation on the casualties from a statement released by CCC, Monday night.
Meanwhile, Heart Rizzari, information officer of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7, said MGB Regional Director Armando L. Malicse, DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Pacquito Melicor Jr. and a team from the Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division will be at Carmen Copper Tuesday to conduct an assessment.
Rizzari said the Bureau will release updates of the incident after the assessment.
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. (Mildred V. Galarpe with Wenilyn B. Sabalo )