The people of Brgy. Datalblao of Columbio, she added, faces the serious threat of livelihood destruction with the geophysical condition of the area. It is vulnerable to erosion and the possible contamination of the present forest and agricultural ecosystem during the operation of open pit mining.
She said in order to prevent further damage to its environmental landscape and to improve the biophysical aspects of the area, introduction of agroforestry technology should be promoted for the benefit of the farming communities. The said technology would provide the balance between farming and forestry that would protect the Mt. Bololomot watershed as a crucial source of irrigation in the rice farm.
In Cagayan Valley, municipalities of Aparri, Camalaniugan, Gonzaga and Lallo are greatly affected by the magnetite mining operation of the small mining company. Magnetite sand mining physically alters the river by disturbing the sediment supply of the fluvial system and by modifying the channel geometry, said Chimi Boongaling, researcher of Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC).
Cagayan Valley is where the longest river in the Philippines is located. The Cagayan river runs through its center and flows out to Luzon Strait in the north, in the town of Aparri, Cagayan.
Aside from the decrease of fish catch, the extraction of magnetite may also result to flooding and bank erosion.(Photo courtesy of CEC /bulatlat.com)
The mining company that currently operates in Lallo is San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd. It affects not only the livelihood of the people but also greatly affects the environment, said Boongaling. “Aside from the decrease of fish catch, the extraction of magnetite may also result to flooding and bank erosion contrary to what the company said that it would help reduce their problem. It would also cause the destruction of houses, infrastructure and farmlands.”
He added that 90 percent of the population is terrified of the possible erosion.
Boongaling also said majority of Cagayan Valley’s population are farmers and fisherfolk, only five to ten percent of the population are skilled workers and professionals. “Cagayan river as well as the surrounding ocean plays a very important role in the life of the people in the communities.
Majority of the communities earn its income from fishing and is therefore highly dependent on the supply of the river or the nearby ocean.”
He also explained that mining activities have threatened this important supply of fish and other aquatic products. The extraction of black sand from the river and ocean bed disturbs the habitat of benthic organism. As these marine species are especially adapted to their environment, they are highly sensitive and react to any kind of change that occurs.
The mining operation also violates Republic Act 265, An Act Prohibiting the Extraction of Gravel and Sandfrom Beaches and Providing Penalties Thereof. “But there are no actions taken against the violators because these mining companies are supported by the government, said Boongaling. (Bulatlat.com)