LGUs in Region12 earn P20-M from minerals industry but…

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/20 February) — Revenues of local government units in Southwestern Mindanao from the minerals industry reached P20.3 million last year, with South Cotabato as the top earner, which, interestingly, did not come from the mining industry but the quarry sector, latest data from the regional Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed.

South Cotabato hosts the massive copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc through the town of Tampakan. The Tampakan project is touted as the largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Southeast Asia, which is estimated to contain a copper volume of 15 million metric tons and 17.9 million ounces of gold.

Marilyn Dicierto, MGB-12 acting information officer, said that South Cotabato’s collection in 2011 from mine-related fees amounted to at least P9 million, which was 48% of the total revenue collection of the entire region.

“The amount collected by South Cotabato came [mostly] from sand and gravel. As always, South Cotabato is the top grosser in collecting mine-related revenue because of the effective monitoring system, thus, contributing to boost the regional economy,” she said.

The MGB-12, on the other hand, earned just P831,432 from payments of mining rights, application, registration, permit and certification fees across the region last year.

Earlier, the regional office trashed 51 non-moving mining applications in the region in line with the “use it or lose it policy.” Eighteen others were endorsed to the main office for possible approval.

Aside from the venture of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, which is controlled by global mining powerhouse Xstrata, South Cotabato also hosts the gold and silver project of Canadian firm Cadan Resources Corp in T’boli town.

Siegfred Flaviano, South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office chief, attributed the province’s strong collection performance to intensified monitoring against illegal sand and gravel quarry operators and small-scale mining activities.

The province was expecting to generate P20 to P30 million this year in mining revenues as a result of the crackdown on illegal operators.

South Cotabato has banned the open-pit mining method, which Sagittarius Mines eyes for its Tampakan project, but excludes sand and gravel quarry activities.

Dicierto said the revenue boost in South Cotabato may continue in the next years with the anticipated boom of the construction industry due to the transfer of the regional offices of national line agencies in Koronadal City, the provincial capital and seat of government of Region 12.

She also noted the clamp down of the South Cotabato government against illegal small-scale mining operations as another factor to increase the province’s mine-related revenues.

After South Cotabato, Sarangani province raked in P4.1 million from mine-related fees last year, equivalent to 20% of the total regional mining-related revenue collection for the period, the MGB regional office said.

North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat came in third and fourth at P3.2 million and P1.8 million, respectively, for mine-related collections last year, it added. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)