2 foreigners say provincial gov’t allowed their mining venture | Inquirer News

2 foreigners say provincial gov’t allowed their mining venture

/ 12:03 AM March 31, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—Two foreigners financing small-scale mining operations in a Surigao del Sur town are insisting that they are running a legitimate mining venture with a permit issued by the provincial government.

“We are operating legally,” said Jennifer Wen, a US citizen of Taiwanese descent. She said her company, Sky Reward Mining, held a temporary small-scale mining permit issued by Gov. Johnny Pimentel on March 5.

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She said the governor issued the permit only after an inspection of the mining site in the town of Barobo in January.

The permit for gold extraction issued by Pimentel covers 4 hectares of farmland in the village of Tambis, at least 200 meters from the national highway.

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Wen said her firm had been given three months to dig on the land but for no deeper than 15 feet.

Wen and Taiwanese national Nick Hsu were named in an earlier report after concerned residents and a local official voiced opposition to the recurrence of small-scale mining in the neighboring villages of Bahi and Tambis in Barobo.

Wen and Hsu said they held valid visas to stay in the Philippines. Wen holds a tourist visa while Hsu acquired a working visa in 2009.

Sky Reward Mining is a Filipino-American company established by Wen to engage in mining operations in Tambis and has a pending application for a permit in the hinterland village of Das-agan in San Francisco town, Agusan del Sur province.

Wen said she hired Hsu to be her consultant in the Tambis operation because he had also operated in the area taking the risk of having minimal gains last year, until Pimentel stopped the activities and issued a cease and desist order to stop the destructive open-pit small-scale mining illegally operated by a Chinese investor in neighboring Kauswagan sub-village.

She said she would gladly stop the operation if the governor told them to do so after the government had seen that the company violated the provisions  of  the mining permit.

Hsu admitted there had been bad public perceptions about him and Wen in the past few years but they were just dragged by big-time Chinese financiers who were really behind the illegal mining operations in Kauswagan last year that dug holes that looked like craters the size of a coliseum.

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He revealed that a certain Mr. Shien and Jason Lu, both Chinese nationals from Zhangzou, China, were the ones who illegally operated in Kauswagan and Tambis villages last year.

Lu was also involved in illegal mining operation in Mati village in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, which is near the

Mt. Magdiwata watershed where six undocumented Chinese nationals were arrested during a surprise police raid.

Lu, however, managed to evade the dragnet as he was able to leave the country a day before the operation.

Wen admitted they had once scuffled with the law related to mining operation in efforts to recover heavy financial losses in the past years.

For his part, Hsu said he had been engaged in small-scale mining in the hinterlands near Butuan City when he came to the country in 2009 but stopped in 2010 when newly elected Mayor Ferdinand Amante ordered the nonrenewal of mining permits when he assumed office. Chris V. Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao

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