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South Cotabato installs CCTVs to monitor illegal mining activities

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY - Surveillance cameras have been installed in the gold-rich town of T’boli in South Cotabato as part of an intensified crack down against all forms of illegal activities that threaten the environment in the area, an official said on Wednesday.

Siegfred Flaviano, South Cotabato-Provincial Environment Management Office chief, said the provincial government is cracking the whip not just on illegal small-scale mining operations but also against illegitimate ball mill processing plants.

“The stoppage order on ball mills operating without permits will be implemented by January 15,” he said.

Flaviano said the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed at the only road leading outside the gold-rush villages of Kematu and Desawo to monitor vehicles transporting ores towards the ball mills, which are mostly concentrated in the town proper.

It was installed in the heels of the recent disaster in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, in which a landslide killed 36 people in a small-scale mining site considered a high-risk area by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Two pairs of CCTVs, or four cameras in all that can take wide and close angle shots, were set up, he added.

These will monitor the ores transported out from the gold-rush villages of Kematu and Desawo especially during nighttime, Flaviano said, adding the footages will help them determine if these are legally or illegally sourced.

In November, the provincial government shut down an estimated 300 gold tunnels for lack of permits.

Aside from illegal small-scale tunnel operations, the destructive "banlas" or sluice mining activities are also prevalent in the area.

Banlas mining employs the pouring of large amounts of water on a mountain’s surface to extract the rocks containing the gold ore, and then pan them with mercury.
Flaviano said an estimated 200 illegal tunnel operators have been trying to seek a permit from the provincial government.

The same number of ball mill operators has scrambled up at the PEMO office here since last week to get clearances for their operations, he added.

Aside from ensuring that small-scale miners are complying with environmental requisites, the crackdown came in force to increase revenue collections from the mining industry players.

By PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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