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Sultan Kudarat execs fear mining will poison lake

Posted by Michille on May 15th, 2006

Sultan Kudarat execs fear mining will poison lake – MindaNews!

KORONADAL CITY – Worried that the operations of Sagittarius Mines Inc. might contaminate Lake Buluan, provincial officials in Sultan Kudarat wanted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to suspend the company’s copper and gold ventures until it was proved that mine tailings would not go into the 17,000-hectare water body.

Lake Buluan, which straddles Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat and Buluan town in Maguindanao, provides food and livelihood to small fishers.

“We are against the mining operations of Sagittarius because we are uncertain of its effect on Lake Buluan. We want a study that would assure the lake would not endanger the lake,” Gov. Pax Mangudadatu said.

The Mangudadatus have been known to operate vast fish pens at Lake Buluan, where giant tilapias and carps thrive as a multi-million-peso industry particularly in the town of Lutayan, where the governor served as mayor.

Sagittarius’ venture covers the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur. But critics of the firm raised fears its venture would have adverse effects on Lake Buluan, although Lutayan and Buluan are outside of its areas of operations.

Rolando Doria, Sagittarius project coordinator, said the firm is willing to hold a dialogue with Sultan Kudarat officials to ease their fears.

In various forums, Doria has repeatedly stressed the company is ensuring the safety of the environment.

“The company is greatly concerned with the environment. We are making sure that our operation would not lead to a future environmental catastrophe within the affected area and even those outside the sphere of the project,” he said.

After assuming the operations from Western Mining Corp., Sagittarius along with the local government of Tampakan in South Cotabato, the DENR, non-government organizations and several tribal communities reactivated an environmental monitoring body.

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