Monkayo to review plan to build mineral processing economic zone at Diwalwal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 June) – Monkayo Mayor Ramil L. Gentugaya said they would review the plan of the Philippine Mining Development Council (PMDC) to establish a mineral processing economic zone at Mt. Diwalwal just two weeks after the Municipal Council passed a resolution recalling its support for the proposed project.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Gentugaya said the municipal officials of Monkayo, Compostela Valley would have to revisit the PMDC’s proposal for the establishment of the Diwalwal Mineral Processing Economic Zone at the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation Area (DMRA) located at Barangay Upper Ulip.

He said the municipal government issued a manifesto on June 8 signed by 10 councilors and 21 village chiefs opposing the entry of large-scale mining companies.

The mayor said the withdrawal of support on the proposed economic processing zone came after the PMDC ceased coordinating with the local government after the Municipal Council issued Resolution No. 21 on January 22, 2018, which endorsed the establishment of the proposed project. The resolution to recall the support was passed last May 29.

Gentugaya alleged the PMDC has already been negotiating with mining investors without coordinating with the local government.

“We are opposing the entry of large-scale mining and PMDC should respect the stand of the LGU,” he added.

The mayor called PMDC’s plan to clean up Naboc River “sincere” but he added the agency seems to have other “hidden agenda” for enforcing its July 2017 cease and desist order (CDO).

“What is really their interest? Do they want to relocate the small-scale miners to pave the way for the entry of large-scale mining,” Gentugaya said.

A portion of the May 29 resolution reads: “After the needed endorsement was granted by the august body, PMDC has stopped coordinating with the LGU, and it is felt that for the LGU to answer queries from various interested investors, PMDC should provide the necessary information and to update the local government with its activities.”

“With the present attitude of PMDC, it puts the LGU in an embarrassing situation to interested investors whose queries can’t be answered due to lack of information from the PMDC,” it reads.

PMDC president Alberto B. Sipaco Jr. said that the “accusation” that it did not coordinate with the local government was “unfair” as the agency is still busy complying with the requirements of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

“What if PEZA will not approve it ultimately? Eh di na-embarrass na tayo, so right now we are still complying with all the requirements that keep us busy all the time. Maraming requirements talaga (There are so many requirements),” he said.

Sipaco said that Mt. Diwalwal, known as the gold rush area, covers 729 hectares of the 8,100 Diwalwal Mineral Reservation and as Environmentally Critical Area declared under Presidential Proclamation 297 of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002.

Only 210 out of 233 ball mills had signed up and agreed to be transferred to Mabatas area, which covers 60 hectares on the same mountain range with a capacity of 50 to 70 million tons of tailings, he said.

Sipaco said the planned 300-hectare economic zone would house the gold refinery, gold processing, resorts, and facilities of the jewelry manufacturers. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)