Gov’t flaunts five “high interest” mining sites in Mindanao

Edilberto Arreza, OIC regional director of the DENR's Mines and Geociences Bureau (MGB) in Southeastern Mindanao identified the areas as North Central Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Southern Mindanao, and Palawan, and Samar-Eastern Mindanao. 

The five districts are included in the twelve "mineral districts" the government identified in its international roadshow for investors.

Arreza said the Samar-Eastern Mindanao area has been noted for its gold, copper, iron, chromium, nickel, cobalt, platinum and manganese; North Central Mindanao for its chromite, copper and gold; Zamboanga peninsula for its gold, copper, chromite and iron; Southeastern Mindanao for its gold, copper, chromite and iron) and Palawan for its chromite, nickel, cobalt, platinum and gold.

The North Central Mindanao list includes potential mining grounds in Bukidnon, Arreza said.

He said they based the potentials on the extent of gold panning activities in the Pantaron mountain range dubbed as "Mindanao’s Central Cordillera."

Matigsalug communities living in San Fernando, Bukidnon, where part of the mountain range is located, came to Davao last month to protest the inclusion of the area as a future mining site amid their claim to native title in the area.

Arreza told MindaNews the potential is there but it was difficult to further veirify as the area is guarded by armed people he did not identify.

"It could hold possibly, if fully explored, another world class mineral deposit," Arreza said in his presentation last Firday, a copy of which he gave to MindaNews.

The Mindanao Business Council had announced on October 23 that mining sector was the central interest of investors at the first ever private-led investment conference in the EAGA on October 22 and 23.

Arreza also noted that a close up view of Mindanao would show clearly its mineral potentials. The Surigao gold district, he said, holds promise for porphyry copper mineralization. 

But he noted that Diwalwal – Masara in Compostela Valley Province calls for rational exploration due to unsystematic operations of small-scale gold miners.

Arreza also cited the TVI operation in Zamboanga del Norte, even as protests against the continued operations of the mining firm have not stopped, particularly from the displaced Subanons, the indigenous people there.

"The mining operation of TVI in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte has put the entire peninsula as an emerging mineral district," Arreza said.

He also cited the Sagittarius Mines in South Cotabato, recently paralyzed by workers who padlocked the home office in Tampakan town and set up roadblocks two weeks ago.

"The discovery of the world class copper deposit in Tampakan, South Cotabato has put into the limelight Southern Mindanao," he said in his presentation which he read both in the EAGA investment conference on Monday and in another business forum at the Davao Trade Exhibit later this week.

Arreza said Mindanao's mining potentials are not only on-shore. He cited "very promising mineral deposits located off-shore within our 2.2 Million Square Kilometers Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ.” He did not specify the area.

He said reconnaissance marine geological survey of the government showed occurrences of placer minerals such as gold, chromite, magnetite (a major iron ore mineral) and the abundance of silica, which is a major component in glass making. 

Arreza also said two out of three major mining discoveries in the country in the last two decades are in Mindanao.

He cited the copper-gold mining wonders in Tampakan, South Cotabato and in Tubod, Surigao del Norte .

He also named eight companies doing exploration work in Mindanao and Palawan namel;  Surigao Copper of Climax Mining, Siana Gold of RED 5 Mining, Surigao Gold of Oxiana Mining, and Mabuhay Gold of Pelican Mining all in Surigao del Norte. He also cited the Pujada Nickel of Asiaticus Management Corporation in Davao Oriental; New Bataan Gold of Sur American Mining in Compostela Valley Province;  Bayug Gold of ZMC – Zamboanga del Sur; and Libona Gold of Great Horizon Mining in Bukidnon.

Arreza said there are three mining projects in the pipeline and already operational,  namely;  Palawan HPP Project, a nickel refinery; Canatuan Gold Project of TVI , which is in first phase of their gold mining operation; and the Diwalwal Direct State Development Project for gold.

The presentation also gave possible investors a briefing on the legal framework, the different types of mining rights and permits and a review of the country's Mineral Action Plan.

It also covered taxes and fees to be shared by national and local government in the operations.

But the presentation was silent on the issues and problems raised by indigenous communities, one of the biggest opposition to the entry of mining in Mindanao. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)