MGB-12 grants mining firm authority to explore SouthCot, Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 Aug) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region 12 has granted authority to another mining company to explore the mineral-rich mountains of South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.

Constancio Paye Jr., MGB Region 12 director, said Thursday they issued a permit to 88 Kiamba Mining and Development Corporation for the exploration of copper, gold and silver deposits within the boundary areas of the two provinces.

He said the exploration permit or EP No. 014-2014-XII, which was released last August 20, specifically covers a total of 7,047 hectares in the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani and Lake Sebu and T’boli in South Cotabato.

“We issued the exploration permit based on a clearance granted by the DENR central office,” he said in a statement.

Paye said 88 Kiamba’s exploration permit was the first that they issued in the region since the promulgation of the national government’s new mining policy as embodied in Executive Order (EO) 79 that was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 6, 2012.

EO 79 provided for the institutionalization and implementation of reforms in the mining sector and set the policies and guidelines “to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the utilization of mineral resources” in the country.

With the implementation of the new mining policy, the official said they adopted major changes in the filing and processing of mining applications.

“Previously, mining applications are filed in the regional office where the area applied is regionally located. But in the light of the DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2013-11, all mining applications are now filed at the MGB central office,” he said

Paye said the application is then forwarded to the concerned MGB regional office “after the applied area is cleared from areas closed to mining and the company has paid the pertinent filing and processing fees.”

He said the MGB regional office will then take the necessary evaluation on the basis of the provisions of DAO No. 2010-21 or the implementing rules of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Law, EO 79 and other related guidelines.

The evaluation process focused on the timelines set for the completion of processing of the application, he said.

Paye said that under DAO 2013-10, the filing fee for the exploration permit increased from the previous P60 per hectare to P300.

He said the minimum authorized and paid-up capital requirements for mining applicants were also increased from P10 million to P100 million and from P2.5 million to P6.25 million, respectively.

MGB-12 records listed businessman Mohamad Aquia as the president of 88 Kiamba Mining and Development Corporation.

Aquia, who is a resident of Kiamba town in Sarangani, is a former head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group-Mindanao.

A known ally of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao, Aquia ran but lost his bid for vice governor of the province in the 2010 national and local elections.

Another company, Kiamba Mining Corporation (KMC), is currently conducting mining explorations in Kiamba town.

KMC holds the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) issued by the national government in June 2010 to the Cebu City-based Hard Rock Mineral Trading Inc.

MPSA-350-10-XII, which will expire in 2035, covers a mining area of 8,331 hectares that was noted for deposits of gold, silver and iron.

Several local groups have been opposing the operations of KMC and moves for the conversion of portions of the area’s public forest/ancestral lands/watershed” into mining areas.

The Coalition of Organizations to Save Kiamba Rainforest and the Natives Organization Worldwide opposed the proposed mining operations in the area, stressing it would eventually destroy the area’s rainforests and watersheds.