Carmen Pit mining operations suspended

Wenilyn Sabalo
·3 min read

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7, has issued a suspension order on Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) directing the latter to immediately suspend its entire Carmen Pit mining operations following a landslide that killed at least four miners on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.

Heart Rizarri, MGB 7 information officer, in a message to SunStar Cebu said the suspension order issued on Tuesday, Dec. 22, is a prelude to the conduct of an investigation on the incident.

The order came right after the death toll rose to four while six miners remained missing and unaccounted for.

Rizarri said an MGB team from the Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division visited CCC on Tuesday to conduct an assessment.

The team was led by MGB 7 Director Armando Malicse and DENR 7 Director Paquito Melicor Jr.

Malicse, in an interview with GMA 7’s Balitang Bisdak, said the landslide involving “igneous rocks” was concentrated in Carmen Pit.

Search and rescue operations are being held in coordination with the Toledo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Toledo City Mayor Joie Perales has sought the help of the Philippine Coast Guard for divers and life boats that can help with the ongoing operations.

CCC statement

“As of this time we are in close coordination and communication with the affected immediate families and will continue to extend the needed support and assistance. We humbly ask the general public to exercise caution and responsibility in distributing information out of respect to the affected families,” the CCC said on Tuesday.

The company also thanked private groups and the Toledo City Government for extending valuable assistance in the search and rescue operations.

“We are also in close coordination and communication with concerned government agencies as we continue to conduct all necessary actions to assess and address the situation,” CCC said.

CCC has a 276-hectare active mining area out of 1,676 hectares of its total operating area.

Currently, Carmen Pit is the company’s only mine operations site. It is located in Barangay Biga, one of CCC’s four host barangays.

CCC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., serves as the country’s principal producer of copper concentrate.

It ships copper concentrate mainly to smelters in China and Japan and to the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. in Leyte Province.

Cash assistance

Aside from aid given by the CCC to the landslide victims, the Toledo City Government will extend cash assistance to the families of the casualties.

John Layan, Toledo City information officer, said on top of the aid given by the CCC, the City Government will release cash assistance to the families of the casualties.

He, however, did not disclose the amount of the financial aid.

Layan said the CCC has been a “very compliant” company in terms of government requirements for their operations.

“Let’s focus first on the search and rescue. Let’s talk about accountability later,” Layan said in Cebuano.

For his part, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Neil Sanchez said the landslide could not have been due to Tropical Depression Vicky as the typhoon had already exited PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility) when the landslide occurred.

‘Badly treated’

The families of more than 100 miners rushed to Carmen Pit immediately upon learning of the incident.

Biga Barangay Captain Pedro Sepada Jr. said barangay officials and the miners’ families were badly treated by the CCC who, he said, prevented them from entering the facility to check on the condition of their loved ones. Sepada said even the police sided with the CCC.

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the CCC management allowed 10 of them to enter the site; however, the company remained unclear about the status of the miners trapped inside, Sepada said.

All four miners who died were from the City of Naga and were working for Anseca, a CCC subcontractor.

Jody Grace Sepada, 25, whose husband, Reynante, remains missing, told Superbalita Cebu that Reynante had just recently returned to work when the tragedy struck. (JOB, ANV, GPL)