MGB cancels 19 mining applications in Region 12; 35 more in the list

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 March)—At least 19 mining applications in Southwestern Mindanao have been issued denial orders so far  in line with the “use it or lose it” policy of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, as around 35 more mining applications may face the same fate, a senior regional MGB official said on Tuesday.

Hernani Abdon, MGB-Southwestern Mindanao acting mining operations chief, said the regional office has met its initial target of purging the list of non-moving mining applications last month.

“Our initial target was 28 inactive mining applications. Nineteen have been issued denial orders for failure to meet the requirement [despite notices] while the other nine was endorsed to the main office for review,” Abdon told MindaNews.

Of the nine mining applications endorsed to the main office, five are seeking Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) and the four pursuing exploration permits, records showed.

Of those issued denial orders, 15 are applying for MPSA and the four seeking exploration permits, it added.

Under the MPSA scheme, ownership should be at least 60% Filipino.

Based on the regional 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.

The MGB regional office is targeting June 2011 to fully purge the list of non-moving mining applications in the area, according to Abdon.

Abdon said they have already identified some 35 mining applications that will be covered by the final streamlining in the area.

Those mainly covered by the “use it or lose it” campaign have inactive mining applications since 2008 and earlier, the official said.

The common lacking requirement that the proponents of the canceled mining applications could not present is the certificate of Free and Informed Prior Notice (FPIC) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, he added.

An FPIC is a document containing the indigenous peoples’ consent for companies to operate in their ancestral lands.

Constancio Paye, Jr, MGB-Southwestern Mindanao director, said earlier that most of the mining companies that were disqualified so far do not have any foreign backing.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje earlier directed the MGB to conduct a nationwide crackdown to cleanse non-moving mining applications as part of the government’s thrust to reform the mining sector.

MGB records show that there were at least 2,180 pending mining applications filed in various MGB regional offices.

The Mindanao Business Council has expressed support to the “use it or lose it” policy.

MBC chair Vicente Lao said 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 Sarmiento/MindaNews)