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Mob assaults mining firm’s office in Camarines Norte

DAET, Camarines Norte (Dec 17, 2011) – Rural residents at the foot of Mount Labo in this province stormed the office compound of the Mount Labo Exploration and Development Corp., a mining firm operating in the area whose activities are being opposed by local residents here.

Camarines Norte Police Provincial director, Sr. Supt. Roberto Fajardo, said Thursday (Dec.15) that mining firm’s chief security Oscar Auxilio reported to the Labo Municipal police station (MPS) that rural residents armed with bolos and rocks destroyed the staff house of the mining company and took away the generator set that was supplying power to the office complex.

Fajardo said he had directed the Labo police to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident as the local police determines the extent of damage resulting from the mob assault.

Since the first week of December, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR)  has ordered the closure of six mineral processors used in gold mining in the towns of Paracale and Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte.

MGB Bicol director Luis B. Loyola identified the mining firms as: Elybel Mineral Resources, owned by Edgar Varde; Triple A Small Scale Gold Processing Plant, owned by Arnel Amor Oco; P&F Mineral Exports Corp., owned by Benjamin Frias -  all in operating in Tugos, Paracale.

While three other firms, the Elnar Gold Processing, owned by Analyn Angeles; the Romeo Diaz Mineral Processing Plant and the Talla Small Scale Gold Processing Plant, all in Jose Panganiban town were also issued a “Cease and desist order” by the MGB and a similar closure order from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-DENR).

According to EMB, regional director Eva Ocfemia, the desist order on the mining companies stemmed from the complaints of local fishermen in Paracale who claim that mining wastes have contaminated the Tugos creek and Malaguit river that both flows into the fishing grounds of the locality.

To monitor compliance, Provincial Environmental Management Officer Henry Lopez said the EMB has intensified water testing in mining areas both in Paracale and Jose Panganiban towns this December to determine cyanide and mercury contents in the creek and river arteries after the gold processors were ordered closed

Some 2,000 workers lost their jobs with the closure of the six mining firms. (SONNY SALES)