Region 12 LGUs earn P31M from minerals industry

KORONADAL CITY(MindaNews/02 June)— Revenues of local government units (LGUs) in Region 12 from the minerals industry reached P31.1 million last year, data from the regional Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) released Friday showed.

Last year’s collection was 53 percent or P10.8 million higher than the P20.3 million collected in 2011, it added.

But MGB-12 records showed that for the first quarter of 2013, revenues generated by the LGUs went down by 22 percent at P7 million from P9 million for the same period last year.

South Cotabato was the top revenue earner of the region’s minerals industry.

Region 12, also called the Soccsksargen region,  comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

South Cotabato hosts two major foreign-backed projects: The Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in Tampakan town and the T’boli gold-silver project in T’boli town of Tribal Mining Corp.

Tribal Mining, which is backed by Canadian firm Cadan Resources Corp., has commenced commercial operations while Sagittarius Mines, controlled by the recently merged Glencore Xtrata plc, is still in the permitting stage.

Constancio Paye Jr., MGB-12 director, said Saturday that the bulk of the generated revenue in the region came from the sand and quarry sector and small-scale mining permit fees.

“The revenue increase in 2012 was notably due to the efforts of the South Cotabato government to require small-scale miners in T’boli town to get the necessary permits,” he said.

The provincial government ordered late in 2011 the closure of at least 300 gold tunnels operated by small-scale miners in T’boli due to lack of permits.

Siegfred Flaviano, South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office chief, attributed the province’s strong collection performance last year to the intensified monitoring against illegal sand and quarry operators and small-scale mining activities.

Under its Environment Code, South Cotabato bans open-pit mining method, which Sagittarius Mines will employ for its Tampakan project, but allows sand and quarry activities.

In 2012, South Cotabato earned P15 million from the minerals industry, an increase of P6 million from the P9 million it recorded in 2011, MGB-12 records showed.

North Cotabato followed with P8.5 million; Sarangani, P4 million; General Santos City, P1.8 million; and Sultan Kudarat, P1.5 million.

Marilyn Dicierto, MGB-12 acting information officer, earlier said the revenue boost for South Cotabato’s minerals industry may continue in the next years with the anticipated boom of the construction industry due the transfer of the regional offices of national line agencies in Koronadal City, the provincial capital and seat of government of Region 12. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)