A LOCAL court in Marinduque ruled in favor of at least 30 plaintiffs against Marcopper Mining Corp. for a mine spill incident in 1993.

In December 1993, parts of the structure of Marcopper’s Maguila-guila tailings dam broke, flooding the Mogpog River with toxic waste.

In a decision dated May 16, the regional trial court granted P200,000 in temperate damages and P100,000 in moral damages to each of at least 30 plaintiffs. An additional P1 million as exemplary damages was awarded to all the plaintiffs.

Marcopper is also known for the 1996 Mt. Taipan pit mining incident, where the drainage tunnels of the company’s open-pit mines broke and caused toxic mine tailings to spill into Boac River.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said that it welcomed the ruling on the Marcopper mine spill case.

“We are relieved that the court has finally rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in the Marcopper mine spill incident. Marcopper operated under the old mining law,” the chamber said in a statement.

“The incident is a constant reminder to miners all over the world that the safety of all stakeholders in host mining communities is paramount. It underscores extreme consequences to people and the environment from catastrophic tailings facility failures are unacceptable,” it added.

The group said that since the incident, new mandatory environmental laws have been put in place to ensure just and timely compensation for damages and for progressive and sustainable rehabilitation for any adverse effect a mining operation or activity may cause.

It also said that mining operators must use specified measures to prevent the catastrophic failure of tailings facilities and to implement best practices in planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, monitoring, closure, and post-closure activities. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson