Press release re Artisanal Small-scale Gold Mining in Sierra Madre
Elizabeth Carranza – 0920-9684982
PRESS RELEASE (to conclude the World Environment Month)
Groups Raise Alarm on the Dangers of Mining Operations in Sierra Madre’s Watersheds
June 30, 2014, Manila – Members of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA) expose the rampant but unregulated small-scale gold mining industry in major headwaters of Angat and Marikina Watershed and raise concern on the dangers posed by these extractive operations in the environment and public health.
“Small-scale gold mining operations are scattered in different watersheds and river systems of Sierra Madre. Since no government body has been monitoring these mining operations, miners are releasing toxic mercury into the waters. Mining also causes heavy siltation and erosion and increases hazards and disaster risk especially to riverside and low-lying communities,” said Elizabeth Carranza, chairperson of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA).
In a report released recently by SSMNA in collaboration with Philippine Pollution Monitor (PPM), it was identified that artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations exist in major head rivers of three critical watersheds of Luzon - Angat, Umiray and Marikina Watershed. Angat Watershed is the primary source of domestic water for millions of families living in Metro Manila and Central Luzon. Meanwhile, Marikina Watershed drains into other critical ecosystems such as the Marikina River and Laguna Lake.
The said watersheds fall under the category “No Go Mining Zone” under Executive Order No. 79 of President Benigno Aquino III. The said areas are also covered by ancestral domain claims of Agta/Dumagat groups.
Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that is harmful to people especially to children and women. Once released into the environment, mercury can travel great distances and may cause contamination of ecosystems, wildlife and food chain.
“More and more people are continuously flocking to these watersheds in search of livelihood. Both the national and local government units must act now to regulate these mining operations and lessen their impacts to environment. ” said Carranza.
In Sitio Angelo alone, which is part of Angat-Umiray Watershed, the groups recorded a growing community of migrant miners from Cordillera and Bicol. The said miners started gold mining in the area since the 70s.
The groups believe that that the government should set-up a participatory and genuine watershed management on these areas and involve the affected communities especially the indigenous people in decision-making processes. -end-