Benguet town remains a target for mining exploits

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Old mine sites in Kibungan are still targets for mineral exploration by various foreign and local mining companies, according to the town’s local elective officials.

Kibungan Vice-mayor Susan Saley-Atuyoc, who was attending a mining conference here Aug. 7 said staff and employees of mining firms frequent the Boneng mine site of the Western Minolco. The site has been closed since 1980 due to company problems.

Earlier Lubo Barangay Captain Arturo Collado, also Association of Barangay Captains president of Kibungan, said his constituents started to lose patience with the insistence of Al Magan Mining Exploration Company (AMMEC) to mine a 132-hectare area at the Benguet-Ilocos Sur boundary, which includes barangays Lubo and Madaymen.

Atlas Mining Corporation is reportedly showing some interest to re-open the old mines, according to Atuyoc.

The town’s residents, however, prefer planting the place with sayote, the vice-mayor disclosed. Some even take pains carrying rich topsoil to rehabilitate the open pit site abandoned for at least 28 years, to grow crops.

“Nakitan ti tattao ti madi nga inyeg ti minas isu a madi dan,” (People have seen the adverse effects of mining so they are apprehensive.) Atuyoc told the media.

Besides Boneng in Lubo, another mining exploration also took place in Tabbak in Barangay Palina, Sakarang in Barangay Madaymen, and Kolokol in Barangay Poblacion. According to Atuyoc, this open exploration was also in the ’70s and ’80s, almost simultaneously with the operations of the Boneng mines.

Atuyoc welcomes information and education efforts of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) to raise people’s consciousness on mining.

She confirmed reports that Kibungan folk have continuously petitioned government agencies Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to spare their communities and stop issuing mining permits.

“Nakukulitan na sila,” (They are pestered) Atuyoc said of the people’s indifference to visiting mining engineers.

Atlas reportedly presented its five-year exploration plan with the local town council but Atuyoc said, the result of the field-based investigation as part of the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) would prevail.

Atuyoc assured the people that the council would study each proposal and lead the people in their legal pursuits and research efforts regarding mining. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorthernDispatch)

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