By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
Lawyer Raul Villanueva, president of Philsaga Mining Corporation, assured Environment Secretary Gina Lopez there would no mining disaster that would take place because the dams have been built with the best engineering structure that complied with global standards.
Lopez visited the mining site of Philsaga after her office received complaints from residents of Bayugan 3 village about the possibility of a dam collapse that would cascade towards Bonifacio Elementary School located a kilometer away below the mine dams.
But Villanueva said a third-party audit team has certified after a thorough inspection of the structure to be in best condition that can endure even a strong intensity seven jolt.
Philsaga was among the few mining companies in Caraga region that passed the mining audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last year. Villanueva said the audit team spent nine days in their mine site to check of any environmental law violations before they certify that the company passed the standards.
Lopez agreed that good practices of Philsaga like engaging on underground tunnel mining and good engineering system made them passed the audit.
She was ecstatic to learn that Philsaga will build a large butterfly sanctuary within their mining site funded through their yearly P50 million Social Development and Management Program and the Corporate Social Responsibility program.
“We will work with you and we’ll build paradise here,” Lopez told Villanueva during their talk while she was making a brief tour around the tailings ponds site.
Villanueva said the butterfly garden that will be built within the reforested area of the company will cover four hectares like that of Butterfly Haven Lamesa Eco Park in Quezon City.
He said he prefer the site within the reforested area so that visiting school children will not only appreciate the several species of butterflies but to let them learn the different kinds of endemic trees.
The company maintains a 120-hectare reforested area located within the mining area complex where dipterocarp species including Lauan, Almont, Molave, Narra and Kamagong planted since 2010 are now fully-grown.
The sturdy trees can be seen atop the hill on the original mine portal of the company and traversing around the perimeters through Saga Shaft and the ongoing construction E15 Service Shaft and the company tree seedlings nursery.
A site officer appointed by DENR will ensure proper maintenance of the butterfly sanctuary of which the company will shoulder the salary.
Philsaga spearheaded the planting of mangroves covering five hectares in the coastal areas of Barobo town in Surigao del Sur where 90 percent of the plants have already survived.
It has also developed a 12-hectare giant bamboo farm situated near the tailings ponds where some 8,000 seedlings were planted.
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