Nickel mines blamed
for mud floods in Sta Cruz, Zambales after Typhoon Lando
Cruz, Zambales – Thick red mud attributed to nickel mining continue to flood
homes and streets of several barangays in the mining-host municipality of
Sta Cruz, Zambales after Typhoon Lando passed through the region four days
Locals believe that the mud flood was caused by the destruction and failure
of settling dams/ponds by four nickel mines— Zambales Diversified Metals
Corp., Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., and LNL
Archipelago Minerals Inc.
Benito “Doc Ben” Molino, chairperson of Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz (CCOS)
said: “With the rain that poured in our province, flooding was highly
possible, but the volume of red mud is a different case. We think nickel
laterite may have mixed with the waters that flood parts of the province
He added: “This is the second time that we experienced this, the first time
was in July when some of the dams of mining companies were destroyed and
flooded our rivers. We’ve had these kinds of problems since mining started
The thick red mud entered their homes. It also damaged their farmlands and
(Photo collage grabbed from the Facebook page of Dr Molino)
Meanwhile, Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane was first to deny this in a
media interview last Oct 19. He claimed that torrential rains and releases
from water dams caused the flood and mudslide.
“This incident is proof that mining affects community vulnerability to
disasters. If there was no mining here and no nickel laterite mudslide
occurred, the flood should have easily receded,” said Jaybee Garganera,
national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
“This is not the first time that we see mining worsening impacts of typhoons
and causing further damage to communities and their sources off livelihood,
such as the Marcopper disasters in 1993 and 1996 in Marinduque, and the
Philex mine spill in 2012,
"In this era of climate change, disasters like these bring increased risks
and threats to mining-affected communities. It is critical that the impacts
of mining are understood as closely linked to climate-induced disasters,
such as this never-before seen levels of flooding. Otherwise, the resilience
of communities will continue to be threatened." added Garganera.
Fact-finding missions by EMB, MGB
In a letter to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Jasareno (Oct
20), Molino called for the investigation of the samples from the flood and
it possible impacts to the health of the people in the barangays. He also
called on the office to lead a study on their added exposure to disaster
specifically in the part of the province where large- and small-scale miners
On Oct 22, a team from the Environment Management Bureau of Region 3 went to
Sta Cruz to investigate.
The MGB regional and national fact-finding teams are set to investigate
today. Thousands of locals rallying in front of the Sta Cruz Plaza demanding
the closure of the mines met the teams.
Molino concluded: “The mining companies can no longer deny the link between
their operations, the environmental destructions and disasters that we are
experiencing now. The DENR must resolve this by putting an end to the mining
projects here and demanding the start of rehabilitation programs.”
The operations of the four nickel mining companies have been suspended by
the MGB twice due to “unsystematic methods of mining” and its impacts to the
environment, but is allowed proceed after several months due to pressures
from powerful political figures.