Friday, January 14, 2011

Mining threatens 4th largest freshwater lake in PH

Mineral explorations and mining activities are threatening the biodiversity of the Philippines’ fourth largest and Mindanao’s second largest freshwater lake, Lake Mainit, which is being shared by the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte.

Lake Mainit, located in the northeastern part of the southern Philippines, also carries the distinction of being the deepest lake in the country with maximum depth of 223 meters. It has a total area of about 17,060 hectares and its lakeshore has total length of 62.10 kilometers, which is being shared by 31 barangays of the Surigao del Norte towns of Mainit and Surigao del Norte, and Agusan del Norte towns of Kitcharao and Jabonga.

Lake Mainit is the habitat of rare fish species like the puyo or perch and gabot, which are being threatened due to the introduction of new fish species. But more than fish, the whole biodiversity of Lake Mainit is being endangered by human activities such as mining, making the lake and its surrounding area of very high ecological value.

Of the 15 exploration permits (EP) that the Regional Office 13 of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Environment department approved as of June 30, 2010, seven are in the town of Mainit, Surigao del Norte, and one in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

The rest are in the Agusan del Sur towns of Bunawan, Prosperidad and Bayugan; Agusan del Norte towns of Tubay, Cabadbaran and Santiago; Surigao del Norte towns of Malimono, Tubod, Bacuag, Placer, Sison and Claver; and Surigao del Sur town of Marihatag. One is in Libjo in the Province of Dinagat Islands.

The tenement holders of these approved EPs are Minimax Mineral Exploration Corp.; Silangan Mindanao Mining Co., Inc.; Manila Mining Corp.; Coolabah Mining Corp.; Occidental Mining Corp.; MRL Gold Phils., Inc.; and Kalayaan Copper-Gold Resources, Inc.

All these companies are prospecting gold and other mineral resources in a total land area covering 19,773.29 hectares of land around Lake Mainit.

Source: Bong D. Fabe, CBCP news

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