Thursday, 19 July 2012

EO79 spoils planned mine waste recovery project at Mambulao Bay

A portion of Mambulao Bay where mining wastes from the defunct mine operated by the Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) and mine tailings from the operations at San Mauricio gold mines were dumped during the years of their operations until the 60s and 70s. Notice the tower of the pelletizing plant on Calambayungan Island. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ


A POTENTIAL multi-million peso mine waste recovery project at Mambulao Bay in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, just went down the drain with the signing of Executive Order No 79 seeking to streamline the country’s mining industry.

The project, which was being worked out by a private investor and the municipal government of Mayor Ricarte Padilla, aimed to retrieve massive volumes of gold and iron ore tailings for further processing to recover gold and other minerals.

The recovery project could last from two to four years, MWBuzz learned.

The said mine wastes were deposited at the bottom of the bay from the time that gold and iron mining operations in Larap and in San Mauricio began during the pre-war years up to the 50s and 70s. 

The Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) had operated massive iron deposits at Baranggay Larap up to mid-70s, while the gold mine at San Mauricio, Bagong-bayan, carried out its operations up to mid-1950s. 

Both miners had dumped their mine wastes into Mambulao Bay as tailings ponds to contain mine waste were not required of them.

The prospective investor had wanted to dredge the bay for the said mine wastes and process them at a facility that would be installed within the municipality of Jose Panganiban.

The said investor along with a top executive of his company engaged in mineral resource development met with this writer last April in Makati City where they laid down the dredging-recovery plan. 

The said plan was earlier discussed with Padilla, who was amenable to the recovery scheme involved.

However, the investor wanted everything under wraps as he was still waiting for a new government policy on mining to be finalized.

He was referring to the still unnumbered EO which, during those days was still being formulated by the national government.

Signed early this month, Executive Order numbered 79 has declared that “all abandoned iron ores, mine tailings and wastes belonged to the state”.

This means that the JP-LGU cannot lay claim to the mine tailings sitting at the bottom of Mambulao Bay.

The investor and Padilla had earlier hoped that the mine tailings in question would eventually become a property of the local government, from which revenues could be generated.

With the municipal government owning the mine wastes, the LGU and the private investor could come up with a definite plan for the recovery process.

They said that it would mean big revenue for the municipality alongside more jobs that would be created by the dredging project and afterwards the actual processing of the mine wastes.

The private investor had also proposed to build a breakwater across the bay to prevent destructive waves from reaching the shorelines during stormy weathers, as part of his commitment to help provide infrastructure facilities to the municipality.

Both Padilla and the investor could not be reached for comments.

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