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Carmen Copper Corp. suspends all mining operations due to recent landslide

Updated: Dec 29, 2020


21 Dec. 2020 – Landslide at Carmen pit -- A screenshot from the video sent to SunStar Cebu


Amid the holiday festivities in Toledo City in Cebu, a sudden tragedy happened last Monday afternoon in a mining pit in Barangay Biga.


21 Dec. 2020, Monday -- Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC) said that the landslide happened at around 4:15 pm at the Carmen Pit. The day after, it was reported that 4 employees died while 6 are still missing. Several miners were also rushed to the Carmen Copper Hospital following the landslide. [1]


From a public statement released by CCC, they said: “The incident was traceable to the incessant rains for the past several months and aggravated by Typhoon Vicky which hit parts of the Visayas, including Toledo City last Friday, December 18, 2020.”


“The Management of CCC is doing all the necessary action to assess and address the overall situation. We will continue to inform the concerned agencies as well the general public of further developments.”


CCC suspended all mining operations in the area to ensure the safety of its employees and contractors. [1]


“We humbly ask the general public to exercise caution and responsibility in distributing information out of respect to the affected families. We would like to extend our utmost gratitude to private groups and the Toledo City Government Emergency Response team for extending valuable assistance in our search and rescue operations.”


“We are also in close coordination and communication with concerned government agencies as we continue to conduct all necessary actions to assess and address the situation.” [2]


22 Dec. 2020, Toledo City, Cebu – Search and Rescue Operation at Carmen Copper Corp. -- Establishment of Incident Command Post with Carmen Copper Corporation and Mayor Marjorie “Joie” Piczon-Perales (Photo credit: Chile Perolino, Toledo City Public Information Office FB page)


The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said last Tuesday that they will do an investigation on the landslide incident. The mining operation is temporarily suspended pending the result of the investigation, according to MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano. He emphasised that the Toledo copper mine passed the Mining Industry Coordinating Council’s independent audit for 2020. [1]


CCC is a subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (or “Atlas Mining”). They have an operating agreement with Atlas Mining and has exclusive operating rights over the in situ mineral resources and ore reserves of Carmen, Lutopan and Biga mineral deposits. These are collectively known as Toledo copper mine which covers 1,674 hectares. Currently, 276 hectares out of the total operating area is an active mining site. The Atlas Copper Complex is located in Don Andres Soriano (Lutopan), Toledo City, in the province of Cebu which is 365 miles or 570 km south of Metro Manila. [3]

Moncano said via a text message to reporters, “Initial findings indicate that Typhoon Vicky exacerbated the already waterlogged limestone and mudstone layer from the prior typhoon that weakens its contact with the intrusive rock base. This is the material that went down to the pit bottom. A fault line called the Barot fault was also observed in the slide area and may have contributed to the landslide.” [1]


Rocky Dimaculangan, Vice President for Communications and National Coordinator for Towards Sustainable Mining sent this message to the media, “The important thing is for the industry to learn lessons from incidents such as this to continue to improve on its protocols and practices. Undoubtedly the industry as a whole will absorb the lessons from this incident.” Last 4th of Dec. 2020, Dimaculangan was a speaker at the Philippine Mining Club Webinar on “Towards Sustainable Mining: Beyond Compliance”.


As for the host communities where the mine site is located, they have their own issues against the mining operations of CCC. According to Biga Barangay Captain Pedro Sepada, CCC’s mining activities were the subject of complaints filed by its host barangay since 2019. Their complaints were forwarded to MGB Central Visayas (MGB-7).


Sepada stated in a phone interview by Rappler, “During our consultative meetings, we really asked what exactly was the standard distance between the mining operations area and the residential area. MGB said there is no standard distance.” [4]


Sepada also said that this was not the first time an incident had occurred. He said that the mining pit had collapsed in 2013, which claimed the life of his relative. [4]


In response to the recent tragedy, Toledo City government’s emergency response team extended their assistance in the ongoing search and rescue operation. Toledo City Mayor Marjorie “Joie” Piczon-Perales is also coordinating with CCC. [4]


According to Toledo City Information Officer, John Layan, Toledo City will be providing financial assistance to the families of the victims. “As per information from our mayor, our assistance is now in place. We are just finalizing some documentary requirements.” [5]


Layan also stated that the other than the City Government’s logistical support to CCC for the search and rescue operation, Mayor Perales requested the help of Philippine Coast Guard for divers and boats for the search and rescue operation. [5] – (Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ)


Reference:

[1] Mayuga, Jonathan L. (23 Dec. 2020). Business Mirror. "Carmen Coper halts mine operations". Retrieved from - https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/12/23/carmen-copper-halts-mine-operations/

[2] Press release from Carmen Copper Corp. (22 Dec. 2020)

[3] Carmen Copper Corp. company website - https://www.atlasmining.com.ph/about-us/carmen-copper-corporation

[4] Sitchon, John (22 Dec. 2020). Rappler. "At least 4 dead, 6 missing after collapse of Cebu mine". Retrieved from - https://www.rappler.com/nation/death-toll-collapse-toledo-cebu-mining-pit-december-22-2020

[5] MVG, WBS, JOB (22 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Carmen Copper mine landslide death toll now at 4". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1880861/Cebu/Local-News/Carmen-Copper-mine-landslide-death-toll-now-at-4

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