BARANGAY Poblacion locals and elders in Itogon town, Benguet and the management of Itogon Suyoc Resources Inc. (ISRI) have come to an agreement on terms that would see the company’s tailings storage facility raised.
The ISRI is looking to raise its tailings storage facility, a dam containing mine tailings, by an additional four meters pending the company’s compliance with the 16 conditions provided by the Poblacion locals.
The 16 conditions imposed by the community that should be complied with by the company in the implementation of the dam-raising project by an additional four meters was the result of more than a year of consultations and negotiations between both parties.
The 1994 memorandum of agreement (MOA) that saw the former Itogon Suyoc Mines Inc. (ISMI) and elders of barangay Poblacion agreeing to allow the tailings pond to a height of 980 meters, under the condition that once the tailings reach the 965-meter level, every subsequent five meter increase shall be implemented in stages subject to more consultation with the local community.
In 2021, the locals voted to allow the most recent request for a five-meter height increase to push through, with the requirement for the company to first complete one meter of increase subject to provided conditions to ascertain commitment to fulfilling the conditions, with the remaining four meters becoming subject to another consultation, eventually leading to an agreement.
Among the conditions of this agreement include the monitoring of the project, the provision of financial and technical assistance to the community, the establishment of the environmental guarantee fund, priority for employment to qualified residents in the area, the designation of working areas for small-scale miners and the mutual respect for the rights of concerned parties.
Earlier, the multipartite monitoring team and the community, through a panel formed to handle the dam-raising’s consultations, also requested the company to reinforce the stability of the dam by working on the anchor, the dam crest, and the face of the facility to guarantee its stability.
The barangay locals have also formed an oversight committee to monitor the implementation of the dam-raising projects going forward.