GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 November) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has posted record revenues in mining and quarry fees during the first three quarters of the year, thanks to its continuing crackdown against illegal small-scale mining and quarry operations in the area.
Siegfred Flaviano, acting head of the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), said the local government’s mining and quarry fee collections from January to September this year reached a total of P12.8 million, which is P3.6 million more than the recorded income during the entire 2011.
He said they expect their collections to further increase towards the end of the year as the bulk of the payments usually come in during the last quarter.
“I think we’re on track towards meeting our projected collection of P20 million before the year ends,” Flaviano said.
The official said PEMO records showed that it collected around P1.48 million alone in mining and quarry fees during the entire month of September.
He attributed the increase in collection to the issuance of closure orders to 24 ball mill operators and mineral ore processors in T’boli town that were found to have been operating without proper permits and licenses.
“The payments made by the errant ball mill operators helped increase our collections for the month of September,” he said.
Flaviano said the erring ore processing plants and ball mills, which have accumulated penalties amounting to P268,850 for this year alone, were based in Barangays Poblacion, Kematu and Edwards in T’boli.
The provincial government earlier issued the closure orders in compliance with a directive from the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) and the provisions of Provincial Ordinance No. 7, series of 2003.
Ordinance No. 7 specifically sets the “taxes, fees, charges and other impositions on small-scale mining, mineral processing operations and transporting of mineral ore within the province of South Cotabato.”
The PMRB, which is headed by Governor Arthur Pingoy Jr., directed the crackdown against unlicensed or unregistered ore processors and ball mills as part of its campaign against illegal mining operations in the province.
Based on the provincial government’s monitoring, around 300 ball mills and 200 ore processing plants are presently operating in T’boli town.
The mineral ores being processed by the ball mills and ore processors come from the thriving small-scale mining activities in the gold rush villages of Kematu and Desawo. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)