In the year 2011 a dreary and weak performance of the industry has showed, mainly because of the slowdown in the manufacturing industry and the global financial crisis, but the biggest contributor to its lackluster are the anti-mining groups who aim to stop the mining industry in the country. Propagandas about the mining’s negative impact on the environment and people’s health has been published and such campaigns and protest are here and then, some of the country’s biggest name and showbiz personalities also join the environmental advocate campaign.
CONTEXT and KEY ISSUE
The negative effect of mining on the environment may not be evident immediately and noticeable only after some years and the effect can be devastating for the environment be it due to ignorance of the regulations or due to an accident. The Rapu-Rapu Toxic Spills of October 2005 and 2007 is respectively caused by the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project. It resulted fishkills in the area and caused severe income loss among fishermen. Last 2006 and 2010 atleast two sperm whales have died. There was also some cover up made by the company to hide the fishkills, there were instance that they buy the dead fish to the residents and buried it near the site. The residents also noticed that after a heavy rain, they would find dead fish in the shores. The decreasing fish harvest has been also noticed since the operation of the mining site started.
Chemicals like mercury, cyanide, sulfuric acid, arsenic and methyl mercury are used in various stages of mining and most of these chemicals are released into nearby bodies of water such as the sea and rivers which is obviously harmful for its flora and fauna. In some cases the pipes being used to dispose these chemicals is always been subjected to leakage and may pollute the fresh ground water and vegetation. River dredging is also adopted in case of gold mining, in this method the gravel and mud is suctioned from a particular area of a river, then after the gold fragments are filtered out, the remaining mud and gravel is released back to the river. This process disrupts the natural flow of the river that may cause freshwater organism to die.
After the metals or the minerals is extracted, it is being disposed in a mining pit, as it is filled up it becomes stagnant pool of water and become a breeding ground for some water borne diseases and causing insects like mosquitoes to flourish. There were also some cases that those who are working in the site accumulate ailment, impairment and communicable diseases after working and exposing to the mining site. The residents had some cases of inflammations as big as the palm of the hand, others portrays eye problems. Some youngsters cannot sleep well. Some have fever and itchy skin. Some residents have lumps after drinking the water presence in the area. Since there are no big hospitals with complete equipment in Rapu-Rapu, the residents were brought to the nearby areas where they cannot seek for proper medical attention due to lack of money and instability in life.
According to RRPP, the company is responsible to mining and is supporting and funding for sustainable development of Rapu-Rapu. They have planted mangroves near the mouth of creeks where the contamination occurred but sadly, the mangroves died. Artificial reefs were also installed in Albay Gulf by well meaning groups of divers but still there were no fish to catch. The RRPP is also responsible for some scholarship programs by signing a memorandum of agreement with Bicol University and Partido State University for scholarship grants to an undisclosed number of students. The company also build up a butterfly farm in the middle of the site, they believe that the presence of the insect indicates and will promote that the place was clean and unpolluted, is that so ironic that they want to publicize that the place was clean that on the other hand the butterflies were inside the cage and being taken care of. They are not living in the wild which is supposed to be their habitat. The insects were also prevented from pollutants outside because of the nets. If the place is really clean and unpolluted there must be animals and butterfly in the wild and forests, but the fact is there were reported incident of increasing wildlife death.
The forest which is supposed to be the home of these wild animals and insect were being stripped off by huge backhoes, payloaders, bulldozers and graders to get the mineral beneath it, after the excavation when the place is unimaginable, they are now going to plant trees and publicize a progress by replacing the natural with the artificial, and just imagine growing a new mature tree would cost atleast ten years. They could destroy a hectare of forest in a day but they can never grow a bit of it in a decade. They are destroying the supposedly virgin forests that will give the daily consumption of the nearby residences and the home of the local plants and animal species.
The mining industry has proven itself as a major budget producer for our countries finances and progress, yet it brought a negative effect that can never be replenished by the wealth it brings. The long term effect of it to our environment and people, the destruction of our one and only mother Earth is at stake, the nature is crying out because of the everyday pollutants that we bring from our homes and schools to the industrial facilities and to this mining and quarrying sites. We are all responsible to it, and no one can deny he’s not.
The progress that it promises is just practiced and felt by the few. Corrupt government officials, the greediness of some and those who simply ignore, contribute a lot to its operation. Yes it do promises a day to day living that in one day those who works in the site can bring with their family a food to eat, but what’s in return? They have acquired diseases which will make them poorer and eventually die. And the company is no responsible for those sick employees, they could easily find and recruits new ones.
Above all, time will come and we are all subjected to it, as it is said whatever things we have done will have a return not today nor tomorrow, it is the long trending effect which will be happening in the near future where our successors will endure. An unimaginable world wherein children cannot enjoy their childhood days outside, enjoying the rain and swimming in the river. Flying a kite in a windy afternoon enjoying the fresh air, having a picnic in nearby grasslands and no more camping.
If actions were taken for granted today, it’s all yours and your successors, your future family and children and for the next generations.