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EMB cites Surigao del Norte gold miner for release of tailings into community

THE Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said on Wednesday that it issued a notice of violation to Greenstone Resources Corp. over the release of tailings from its Tailings Storage Facility (TSF), putting it in breach of its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

In a statement, the EMB said it found cracks along the base of the company’s TSF embankments, resulting in tailings being released into a nearby barangay.

“The heavy flow of the tailings from TSF 3 damaged 25 houses in Barangay Siana, Mainit, Surigao del Norte. They also damaged electrical distribution lines and coconut trees. The tailings also crossed the barangay road,” the EMB said.

It added that the company also violated the provisions of Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

Last week, Greenstone said that it had voluntarily suspended mining operations in order to expedite its emergency responses.

The cracks emerged following an earthquake and rains in Mindanao.

Greenstone Resources operates the Siana gold mine in Surigao del Norte.

In its report, the EMB said that eroded tailings downstream of the TSF and those that are still inside the facility are exposed and vulnerable to runoff water during heavy downpours and may flow onto the nearest body of water.

“The risk of polluting Magpayang River and other waterbodies farther downstream is very high because of the volume of unsecured tailings. These tailing materials may still contain chemicals as a result of the mineral processing some time ago therefore it shall be considered hazardous waste,” it added.

The EMB is recommending that Greenstone Resources submit measures to address the immediate needs and impacts of the incident.

The company should also determine the volume of the tailings that were displaced and have a long-term program to address the environmental impacts of the incident.

“(The company) is further recommended to regularly update EMB on the status of the company’s response operations, to conduct regular water sampling at the established sampling stations to closely monitor the extent of contamination, and to conduct a Root-Case-Analysis of the incident,” it added.

Additionally, the company said that it will submit its rehabilitation plan and pay the penalty for each violation. — Adrian H. Halili