Vitali ‘crab, prawn kill’ not related to mining exploration — Atro Mining PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 February 2014 17:53

A mining firm that was blamed by fishpond operators and residents of Vitali for the death of crabs and prawns and for alleged skin diseases has denied the accusation saying that the problem in Vitali iis brought about by seasonal white spot syndrome virus infestation that is happening also in other parts of Mindanao.

In a press statement, Atro Mining Vitali Inc.said it has nothing to do with the reported infestations of fishpond products  within Barangay Vitali.

“Our company categorically and vehemently denies all these unfounded allegations and hasty generalizations without first looking at the facts and making scientific investigations.” said the statement. “Amid this threat to the fishpond sector, which is also happening elsewhere, our company is saddened by the recent events as it affects the livelihood of Vitali residents especially those who rely on the fishpond industry. However, It is disheartening to note that this unfortunate incident is being linked by some people, for whatever reasons, to our company as the cause of the said viral infestations.”

Atro Mining reiterated that it is still on the exploration stage of its iron ore project in Vitali and in the conduct of the exploration activities, the company is not using any form of chemicals.

“More so, our company is also taking quarterly water samples within the river systems of Vitali for monitoring and compliance of water quality as per DAO No. 34 of  DENR,” the press statement said.

“Needless to say, when we will be operational, these iron ore deposits will also be mined and processed without any need of chemicals to recover the iron.  Hence, any attempt to link our company to this problem is simply absurd and preposterous!” Atro Mining emphasized.

The company said that in the spirit of transparency and to underline its commitment to Responsible Mining Principles,  it will support any investigation on this matter or even the conduct of a scientific study to really find out the problem and  solve the issue, once and for all, in order to help local businessmen on the fishpond industry and also the local residents of Vitali.

“We are opening the area under our Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) to the City Government of Zamboanga, concerned national government agencies, and the media to visit our project site in order to find out the activities that we are doing and to finally decide whether we have done something that can be  linked to the cases at hand,” it said.

The compny called on everyone to exercise restraint and caution in making statements and generalizations that might create more problems than solve the one which all of us are trying to address. “Let us not be part of the problem but rather be part of the solution to the common problem that the fishpond industry is facing, not only in Vitali but also elsewhere.”

Atro Mining stressed that linking the reported infestations to the mining explorations of the company is “a product of hasty, irresponsible and  sweeping generalizations without taking into consideration a wider picture where prawn and shrimp farmers in the  Provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay and Sarangani had also observed the same deaths of stocks.”

“Lest the public forget that last week the Office of the City Agriculture through its Vitali Agriculture Field Office 6 has warned prawn farmers in Barangay Vitali of a possible outbreak and infestation of White Spots Syndrome Virus (WSSV) on the shrimp farming industry with the onset of hot weather. Rico Tabal, head of the Field Agriculture Office 6 based in Barangay Vitali, issued the warning after  reports reached his office from fishpond operators indicated a ‘possible infestations of prawns by WSSV’.”    The firm said similar occurrence was also observed in nearby Province of Zamboanga Sibugay where prawn and crab farmers  reported deaths of prawns and shrimps due to “white spots”. The provincial governor, Atty. Wilter Palma, has already  directed all agricultural technicians to closely monitor the reports. “A prawn and shrimp farmer in General Santos City, a certain Joy Mahinay Provido, confirmed that the same problem has also hit the nearby Province of Sarangani.”