MGB urged to recall CDO, Iligan mining exploration permits
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Northern Mindanao leaders on Friday urged the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to recall mineral exploration permits (EPs) it issued to mining firms eyeing the hinterlands of this city and nearby Iligan City for mineral extraction, specifically for gold and iron.
In a resolution, the advisory committee of the Regional Development Council (RDC) said the tragedy wrought by Tropical Storm “Sendong” two months ago was enough warning against exploitation of the natural resources of the two cities.
The advisory committee is composed of the chairs and cochairs of RDC standing committees plus the 14 legislators representing the congressional districts throughout the region, said Iligan Mayor Lawrence Cruz, who chairs the RDC.
The MGB has admitted that it has issued several EPs in the region.
Alfredo Relampagos, MGB technical director for Northern Mindanao, said four of the EPs were issued for areas in this city and one in Iligan City.
An EP, he said, allows a mining company to prospect for an economically viable amount of mineral reserves in a particular area.
“If the prospect is good, the company can apply for either a mineral production sharing agreement or a financial and technical assistance agreement depending on the size of the minerals prospect,” he said.
Relampagos, however, said there were no massive diggings during the exploration stage.
Even then, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, who sponsored the resolution, said the recall of the EPs would send a signal to mining investors that the areas of the two cities were not open to mining.
Relampagos told the RDC members that the greatest threat to the hinterlands, for example in this city, is the so-called small-scale hydraulic mining operations.
In hydraulic mining, water from the river is pumped and beamed on the mountainsides to loosen the soil.
The slide of soil going into the river is then processed to extract gold.
He said in this city, these were being done along the Iponan River.
Relampagos said the operation of the small-scale miners was approved by the city mayor’s office, through a special permit.
Regulation of small-scale mining is governed by a law separate from the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and is a devolved power of local governments, although MGB should issue an area clearance before any such permit could be granted, he said.
In the case of the small-scale mining here, Relampagos said the authorization process did not pass through MGB.
He further revealed that they had difficulties monitoring these activities because city and barangay officials were protecting the operation.
Cagayan de Oro Councilor Edgar Cabanlas also said the mining permits did not pass the city council.
He said at least nine companies and individuals benefited from the special permit issued by Mayor Vicente Emano.
These included Yellow Stone Development Corp., SNS Metal Trading Corp., White Pearl Asia Corp., Perfect World Mining Corp., Javez HinterLand Resources Inc. and Cagayan de Oro Finest Metal Inc.—Ryan Rosauro and Bobby Lagsa
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