MGB junks 15 mining applications in Southwestern Mindanao

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/08 December) —The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Southwestern Mindanao has denied the application of 15 mining companies for failure to comply with the requirements, a top official said yesterday.

The action was in line with the “use it or lose it” policy the agency hopes to fully implement to give serious investors the chance to utilize prospective mineralized zones, said Constancio A. Paye Jr., the MGB regional director.

“We denied their applications for failure to submit the necessary requirements, mainly the FPIC (Free and Prior Informed Consent) from the tribal communities despite repeated reminders,” Paye told reporters.

An FPIC is a document where indigenous peoples give their consent for companies to operate in their ancestral lands, a requirement under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

Paye noted the mining companies who were disqualified to apply are mostly based in Metro Manila and without any foreign backing.

The affected mining firms, however, have the right to file a motion for reconsideration at the MGB regional office.

But so far, none has filed to reconsider the decision of the regional office, Paye noted.

Among the companies who were declined their applications were Blucor Mineral Corp., Eldore Mining Corp., Galactica Mining & Development Corp., Hirich Mining & Development Corp. and Kalamazoo Mining Corp, records of the MGB regional office showed.

The others were Lazarus Mining Corp., Looc Mining Corp., Mt. Peak Mining & Development Corp., Mucho Dinero Mineral Mining, Inc., and Pinatubo Cement & Mining Corp.

Also included in the list were Shamrock Metal and Miring Processing Corp., Silver Bell Mining & Development Corp., Talibayog Mining Corp., Providence Mining & Development Corp., and Evercrest Mining and Cement Corp.

Based on the MGB records, these companies have land applications ranging from 637 to 16,535 hectares in the different parts of Southwestern Mindanao, a region covering the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

Paye said the regional office would continue flushing out non-moving applications following the order of Environment Secretary Jesus P. Paje to implement the “use it or lose it” policy in mining.

The policy also covers non-performing mining contracts, meaning those with approved permits but have no mining-related activities to boast.

Paye said no permits to mining companies in Southwestern Mindanao cleared to conduct exploration activities have been cancelled so far in line with the drive.

The Environment department targets to cancel around 50% of the idle mining tenements and applications this month, out of the existing 2,800 mining tenements and applications as of last October.

The Mindanao Business Council has expressed support to the “use it or lose it” policy, with Vicente T. Lao, the group’s chairperson, saying that permits of idle mining tenements must be revoked to give serious mining operators the chance to develop them, which in turn will generate employment and livelihood opportunities. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)