48 big mining firms want to operate in Bukidnon

Samuel Cadavos, BENRO chief, said Wednesday none of these applications have prospered even though it is the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that is responsible for processing the applications.
BENRO is an agency of the provincial government of Bukidnon while the DENR is the national government’s.
The applications cover at least 40 percent, or 329,000 hectares, of Bukidnon's 829,378-hectare land area.
Cadavos told provincial legislators Wednesday a number of these firms have applied for public consultation at the provincial level as part of the local government endorsement requirement.
But he said Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., who is vocal of his opposition to large-scale mining, has blocked the requests.
Cadavos said while it is the MGB that approves applications, no permit should be issued without the endorsement of the local government from the barangay, town or city and provincial levels.
He revealed the information when he was questioned about the income incurred by the provincial government from quarry and small-scale mining operations approved in the province.
Board member Rogelio Lago, former mayor of a town here, has questioned BENRO's capacity to monitor quarry and small scale mining operations in the province.
He asked if the province is earning or losing from the operations given that some operators do not have mining permits.
Cadavos said the province exceeded targets set for sand and gravel and small-scale mining in 2007 with P1.2 million and P447,000 in actual revenues, respectively.
He told legislators the real source of big income is from large-scale mining, which he estimates at P100 million a year. But then he admitted it was not possible.
Vice Gov. Alex Calingasan warned against processing applications without the approval of the provincial board and the required public consultation.
"We should urge the governor to file charges (administrative) against DENR officials who defy the authority of the local government," Calingasan told his colleagues during the board's March 19 session.
Cadavos clarified that large-scale mining operations are those operating in at least 20 hectares of mining area. Below 20 hectares and P10 million capitalization is considered as "small-scale," he said. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)