Canadian-backed mining firm acquires rights over vital small-scale site in SouthCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 Dec) – A Canadian-backed mining company operating a gold and silver mining project in T’boli town in South Cotabato has acquired the rights over a vital small-scale mining site, ending nearly two decades of dispute with local miners.

Constancio Paye Jr., Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 12 director, said Thursday that TMC-Tribal Mining Corporation specifically purchased and acquired the rights over small-scale mine tunnels in portions of the gold rush area in Barangay Kematu in T’boli town.

He said the move was based on an agreement forged by the company with the Maguan Clan Small-Scale Mining Association and the T’boli Minahang Bayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TMBMPC).

The agreement was signed by TMC president and chief executive officer Eumir Ernesto Tiamzon, TMBMPC chair Esther Daquil, and Maguan clan elder Juaning Maguan, he said.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed but an MGB-12 statement said TMC has acquired the “rights of small-scale mining tunnels inside the drain tunnels” of the Maguan clan and the TMBMPC.

The mine tunnels of the Maguan clan and TMBMPC form part of the 21-hectare declared people’s small-scale mining area or Minahang Bayan in Barangay Kematu.

But the mining area is within the 84.98-hectare Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of the TMC.

Records show that the Minahang Bayan was declared by the South Cotabato Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) in 1995 based on provisions of Republic Act 7076 or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act.

TMC’s MPSA No. 090-97-XI was issued by the MGB on November 20, 1997.

Paye said TMC and the small-scale miners practically operated on the same area for many years.

But he said disputes eventually arose among the operators and cases were filed in local trial courts.

Along with the PMRB, he said they initiated negotiations among involved parties “to enjoy mutual co-existence but was hard to achieve.”

“(But) with the new development, a friendly and peaceful climate will now be attained in the area,” Paye said in a statement.

The official said they expect that the agreement will result to “mutual trust and peaceful cohabitation” among the parties – TMC, the T’boli tribal residents and local communities.

“This will eventually increase investor confidence on the mining industry in the area,” he added.

TMC is currently conducting explorations within the mining area for its planned large-scale gold and silver mining venture.

The company is supported by Canadian firm Cadan Resources Corporation, which formally changed its name in October to Rizal Resources Corporation.

Cadan earlier disclosed that the T’boli project holds potential deposits of around 3.8 million tons, containing 1.1 million ounces (Moz) of gold and 3.3 Moz of silver. (MindaNews)