SMALL-SCALE iron and copper mining operators in Jose Panganiban have been using dynamite and other explosives and heavy equipment in violation of the standards set by law.
This was disclosed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) recently, based on reports it received from field men.
However, MGB did not specifically name the culprits, although it said the operators in Barangay Nakalaya have been found to be in violation of standard mining practices.
The use of explosives and heavy equipment are exclusively given to large-scale operators with Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) granted by the MGB, said Chris Oropesa, MGB-Bicol mining engineer in charge of small-scale mining.
In the six provinces of Bicol, Oropesa said, small-scale mining involved 7,000 people, 2,000 of whom are in Camarines Norte’s mining towns of Paracale, Jose Panganiban, Labo, Capalonga and Basud—extracting gold, iron and copper.
Three large-scale mining companies also have MPSAs in Camarines Norte.
These are Johnson Gold Mining Corp in Jose Panganiban, United Paragon in Paracale, and El Dore Mining Corp, but only Johnson is currently active.
Isabelo Fonacier Mining has an MPSA in Jose Panganiban, through its mining arm, Investwell Mining.
But a falling-out among the heirs of Fonacier Mining and Investwell had turned mining activities in the town violent, according to a source, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, according to reports reaching MGB.
The Fonaciers own the MPSA that covers 200 hectares in Barangay Nakalaya, Jose Panganiban, of which 5ha are being mined by small-scale operators, MGB said, quoting a source.
Records showed that in 2010, the Fonaciers and Investwell signed a mine operating agreement (MoA) that allowed the latter to operate in the Fonacier Mining site.
The source said the Fonaciers wanted to terminate the MoA, but Investwell refused, saying that under the agreement, neither party can withdraw without the prior and written consent of both.