Mining firm to build bridge in abandoned excavation area in Benguet

Published August 4, 2022, 9:35 PM

by Comanda Rizaldy C.

BAGUIO CITY — The Benguet Corporation has allocated funds for the immediate construction of a bridge near its abandoned mining patented claim area near an open pit in Sitio Luneta, Loacan-Antamok, Itogon.

Residents walk to the proposed site of a one-lane bridge to be constructed by Benguet Corporation near an open pit located in Sitio Luneta, Loacan-Antamok, Itogon, Benguet. (Photo by Zaldy Comanda)

Lawyer Froilan Roger Lawilao, BC Administration Department Manager assured on Wednesday, August 3, that there is existing funds for the construction of a one-lane concrete bridge with an estimated length of 400 meters.

“It is due for implementation, the fund is sourced from our company’s Care and Maintenance budget,” Lawilao said.

However there was no mention of the specific amount to be used for the construction of said bridge.

He said, the mining company acknowledged the fact that residents of Sitio Luneta need the bridge so that they will not be isolated when a portion of the area (open pit) gets flooded owing to the cascading waters from upstream of Antamok River, especially during wet season.

When constructed, local residents will have easy access transporting food supplies and patients with emergency cases. And it will safeguard everyone especially school children against dangers in crossing the open pit area.

He clarified that the funds have been existing for years. He further explained that the construction of the bridge will have to be undertaken by the community purposely to generate local employment.

Lawilao added that the project was approved by the Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee (MRFC) after a series of works by the so-called BC-Multipartite Monitoring Team (MMT) composed of representatives from the private mining firm, community, local government unit (LGU) and non-government organization (NGO), among others.

Lawilao said the area is a patented mining claim of BC, and its mining operation (Antamok) was suspended/abandoned mainly due to low grade of metals and price of metals were not as competitive during late 90s.

Currently BC is awaiting the approved final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation of its Antamok open pit.

John Latongan, president of Luneta Miners Association (LMA), former board of director of the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners, Inc. (BFSSM), has welcomed this development as he expressed his gratitude to BC in behalf of the residents in their community, pocket miners and their respective families living in the mining area.

“We are thankful to the company for addressing our concern, the construction of a bridge. This has been our clamor for years,” Latongan said in the vernacular.

“It’s true for a fact that BC has been extending assistance to us in many ways, and that we are grateful, which include social and environmental projects, providing us seedlings in our regular tree planting efforts-under the reforestation program of BC,” Latongan added.

For the other appeal by the same community and LMA – the repair or construction of dike, retaining walls along the Antamok River banks, just a few meters away from several houses, Lawilao said, they have to assess the area following government rules and regulations.

And it will undergo the same process by the BC-Multipartite Monitoring Committee and approval shall come from the MRFC.

Reports said that Benguet Corp. revenues more than doubled to P3.8 billion in 2021 from P1.6 billion previously while operating income quadrupled to P1.6 billion from P340 million despite restrictive quarantine and strict government health protocol policies and also due to strong metal prices and favorable market conditions amid the pandemic.