Bukidnon earns measly 10% of chromites' 'fair market value'

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/3 Dec) – The diggings flatten its mountains but the provincial government of Bukidnon earns only 10 percent or P100 per metric ton of chromite ore extracted within its territory, an official of the Bukidnon Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) said.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the rate is based on the rule followed by BENRO that extraction fee must be 10 percent of chromite ore’s fair market value of P1,000 per metric ton.

The source clarified that it is a guideline downloaded from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The source added that it has been adopted in the provincial tax guidelines.

The source said the province only targets an income of P500,000 annually from chromite extraction, a far-off from the P7 million it targets annually to earn from quarrying sand and gravel along the Pulangui River.

The source added that two companies extracting chromite are also paying 2 percent of the fair market value to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The source added that a truck carrying 15 tons of ore is also required to pay a measly P300 for ore transport permit.

The source said the province has four holders of two-year small scale mining operation permit to extract chromites, the major metallic mineral resource of the province. The source named four clans of indigenous peoples (IPs) who hold the permits. Each of the clan occupy about 20 hectares of area in Impasug-ong town, in Bukidnon’s boundary with Agusan del Sur.

“But only two holders have attracted buyers,” the source added.

The source said the lumad diggers of chromite sell ore to the two firms, one owned by a Chinese national named “Kenneth Kho” and another that goes with the name “Nano Mines Trading.”

Gov. Alex P. Calingasan told his “Ang Bukidnon Karon” (Bukidnon at Present) weekly radio program Wednesday the lumads in the area have no other source of income that is why they are into the mining industry.

He said those who are opposing mining must check first between the balance of the IPs’ economic benefits and the environment.

Calingasan admitted that there is mining in Impasug-ong town but he defended that “no trees have been cut because of it”.

The governor said the public must not be repulsive outrightly against mining. He clarified that quarrying limestone, a non-metallic mineral, is already “mining”.

He stressed that mining activities in the town is just small scale that not “even grasses were cut.” The BENRO source said trees and grasses do not grow in areas with rich deposits of chromites.

Calingasan said the IPs have no other sources of income in areas where there are mining operations.

“Have pity on them,” he said, advising critics to go to Manalog, a village in Malaybalay City near its boundary with Impasug-ong, and see the lumads’ sorry situation.

The BENRO source clarified that extraction occurs only in Impasug-ong and is transported only via Manalog, where the city government has opposed mining.

Calingasan cited that the mining operation in the town has provided livelihood to 500 families.

“Mining is a gift from God, the people should use it. But it depends on how people will use it,” he added.

He said the IPs dig ore for P4 per kilo. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)