TUCP calls for safer mining measures

Published by rudy Date posted on January 1, 2006

The country’s largest labor group urged the government yesterday to improve safety measures for tens of thousands of mining industry workers after the sector was opened up to foreign investors.

Some 126,000 Filipino miners are at “grave risk, day in and day out” as they toil in tunnels operated by local and foreign mining firms, said former senator Ernesto Herrera, the secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

“Of great concern to us is the need for mining companies to raise the quality of (mine) rescue training,” Herrera said in a statement.

He said miners also lacked safety equipment during disasters.

In the past two years, four major mining disasters in the Philippines had resulted in multiple fatalities, he said citing data from the US Mine Rescue Association.

The episodes include a methane gas explosion in a central Philippine mine that killed eight and a cave-in that left 37 missing and presumed dead in a gold rush site in southern Compostela Valley.

The Supreme Court in December 2004 opened up the mining industry to full foreign participation, in a ruling contested by environmentalists and the powerful Roman Catholic Church which warned of potential disasters.

The government is expecting to raise some $5 billion in investments in the sector in 2006, but has stressed environmental and safety concerns would be paramount. — AFP

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