“The T’boli natives would also like to mine in the mining area of the cooperative,” Paye said, referring to members of the Maguan clan whose mining application was strongly objected to by the cooperative.
He noted the mining site falls under the ancestral domain claim of the Maguan clan and that it has not granted a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to the cooperative.
The consent of indigenous people is a requirement to obtaining permits for mining operations and other economic activities in ancestral domain areas.
He said the cooperative failed to present an FPIC during the meeting and was given until January 30 to submit the document before the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board.
“We hope to have a win-win solution in this case. Sadly, the harmonious existence of the tribesmen and the cooperative has been affected but which we want to restore,” he said.
Consisting of small scale mining operators, the cooperative had earlier asked a local court that 21 hectares of gold-rich portion of Barangay Kematu be appropriated for their exclusive use.
The parcel of land, however, forms part of the 85-hectare mining area granted by the government to Tribal Mining Corp. under Mineral Production Sharing Agreement number 090-97-XI.
Tribal Mining, backed by Canadian firm Sur American Gold Corp. which recently changed its name to Cadan Resources Corp, is exploring the site for gold and silver deposits.
Paye said the dispute between the cooperative and Tribal Mining is separate from the claims of the Maguan clan.
During the term of then South Cotabato governor Hilario de Pedro III, he issued an executive order apportioning the 21 hectares as “minahang bayan” or “people’s mining site” to address the row between the cooperative and Tribal Mining.
Paye said that an estimated 20 to 30 tunnels had been developed by cooperative members at the “minahang bayan” site over the years.
Ramon Ponce de Leon, provincial environment management office head, said there was an earlier dialogue between the cooperative and the Maguan clan to settle the conflict.
In that dialogue, the provincial government assured that each party would be granted permit within the 21-hectare minahang bayan if the court would rule in favor of the cooperative, Ponce De Leon said.
If the court will rule in favor of Tribal Mining, “we will revoke all the permits issued to small-scale miners,” he added.
But pending the decision of the court, he said that they are looking for ways to settle the differences between the cooperative and the Maguan clan.
“We want both parties to co-exist peacefully,” he said, adding the small scale mining industry is vital to people in the area because they depend on it for daily income such as in the case of laborers. (MindaNews)