DOLE: Gov’t ready to help E. Samar workers affected by mining suspension

TACLOBAN CITY-- The Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) regional office here said the government is ready to assist about 2,000 workers in three mining firms in Eastern Samar that will likely be affected by the closure order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DOLE regional director Elias Cayanong confirmed that thousands may be displaced due to closure directives for TechIron Mineral Resources Inc., Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp., and Emir Minerals Corp.

These firms have been operating in mineral-rich Homonhon Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Cayanong visited Homonhon Island last week to meet with the management of the mining firms and their workers for profiling and needs assessment.

The labor department has yet to complete the assessment and come up with a list of workers from each of the three mining firms.

"For those ordered for suspension, the DENR directed to use their workers in the rehabilitation of mine sites, which is one of the conditions to be complied before lifting the suspension order. This is to ensure that workers remain employed despite the suspension of mining operations," Cayanong said.

The government will also hire affected workers in the massive reforestation project, the National Greening Program.

DOLE meanwhile will provide assistance to displaced workers through its integrated livelihood and emergency employment program and adjustment measures program.

Cayanong also encouraged affected workers to venture into the processing of ginger and cassava with the existence of plantations in the island.

Recently, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez ordered 28 mining firms in the country to shut down their operations due to environmental law violations.

In the case of Homonhon, environmentalists have confirmed the discoloration of water in heavily silted rivers and seas near the mines.

Records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau show that two of the mining firms in Homonhon had stopped their operations ahead of the crackdown on destructive mining.

Only TechIron Mineral Resources continued to operate. The company kicked off its chromite mining in December 2015, covering 1,500 hectares.

Mt. Sinai, which obtained a mining permit in 1997 for 510 hectares, ceased to operate six years ago due to low global prices of chromite, according to MGB records.

Emir Minerals Corp. stopped its operation to mine nickel in 279 hectares in August last year. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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