Mines Bureau junks 74 mining applications in Caraga region
BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the Caraga Region has disapproved a total of 74 applications for large and medium-scale mining in an effort to purge the region’s mine industry of unqualified mine firms.
Alilo Ensomo, MGB director for Caraga, said the mining applications were shelved due to the firms’ failure to comply with regulatory and administrative requirements such as area-clearance, publication of required notices and the free and prior informed consent from concerned tribal communities.
“A total of 74 mining applications in Caraga were denied for non-compliance with regulatory and administrative requirements as of this month (June),” Ensomo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Ensomo said among the five mineral-rich provinces of Caraga, Dinagat Island had the most number of shelved mining applications with 30, followed by Agusan del Norte with 13, Agusan del Sur with 11, Surigao del Sur with 10 and Surigao del Norte, 10.
Ensomo said its move was designed to avert entry of unscrupulous mine firms and ensure only those responsible and credible firms which adheres to environmental laws and social responsibilities operate.
“Essentially, this is our reform measure in line with President Aquino’s drive to cleanse the mining industry and promote responsible and sustainable mining,” Ensomo said.
Dubbed as the country’s new mining capital, Caraga reportedly holds half of Mindanao’s mineral deposits. It is touted to have $2 billion worth of gold deposits, and huge deposits of nickel and chromium ores.
At least 14 mining firms are currently operating in various parts in Caraga and 15 others doing explorations.
As part of its continuing crackdown, Ensomo said 88 other applications to mine highly priced minerals such as gold, copper, manganese, chromite and nickel ores in the resource-rich region have been placed under review.
But Carl Cesar Rebuta, project development officer for Caraga of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources-Kasama sa Kalikasan dismissed the rejected applications as a ploy by the MGB to make it appear that the government was concerned for the environment.
Rebuta said the so called “purging” was haphazard because it failed to address core problems brought about by the operations of multinational mining companies throughout the region.
“Instead of highlighting its junking of applications, the government should first address complaints and grievances of displaced communities and environmental destruction caused by existing and operational mining firms,” he said.
Rebuta lamented the government’s laxity in enforcing the no-mining policy in protected watershed, coastal and agricultural areas. He said encroachments by mining groups have resulted in the displacement of the lumad (indigenous communities) and environmental destruction in the Surigao provinces.
“Mining encroachment in no-mining zones like protected watershed, coastal and agricultural areas has gone on unabated in Caraga and the government has failed to act on this,” he said.
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