The Daily Manila Shimbun


Benguet, Lepanto have not received DENR orders

February 4, 2017

Benguet Corp and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. have not received closure or suspension orders from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) after announcing the findings of its mining audit last Thursday.

Froilan Lawilao, manager of the Benguet Corp’s operations in Benguet Province, said  the apparent target of the mining audit, the Baguio-Antamok Gold Operations, has been closed since 1995.

Knestor Godino, Lepanto’s vice president for administration, said the firm has not received any final order regarding its six-month suspension. Godino said Lepanto passed the DENR mining audit last year. Lawilao said Benguet is rehabilitating the Antamok mines as a Memorandum of Agreement with Itogon, Baguio City and a private company have been signed for a sanitary landfill for the mined–out area in Antamok as a measure for rehabilitation.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez told residents and stakeholders at Loakan and Antamok in Itogon town on Friday pilot areas for people’s mining will be their communities, using traditional methods.

The indigenous peoples’ group, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, welcomed the DENR closure of 23 mines in several parts of the country, including Benguet Corp.

“While Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company  is among those up for suspension,  we are fervently pushing for the closure of this company for its historical accountability to the destruction of people’s lands and polluting and silting the Abra River and its tributaries for the past 80 years,” the alliance  said.

The alliance claims “over 100 years of BC’s ( Benguet Corp.) open-pit mining in Itogon has removed whole mountains and entire villages from the land surface. “After exhausting the gold ore, the open pit in Itogon is now abandoned as the company has shifted to other economic ventures like water privatization, small scale contract scheme and housing”, it said.

The alliance alleges Benguet Corp. “denuded the pine forests of Itogon, Baguio, Tuba, and Tublay. When they ran out of timber, the mining company expanded their logging to Bobok in Bokod.”  DMS