Amid anti-mining rhetoric, gov’t gives green light to 2nd big mine in N. Vizcaya
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—This province officially becomes host its second large-scale mine with the approval Monday to start commercial operations, amid pronouncements by President Rodrigo Duterte expressing disdain for mining operations.
Mario Ancheta, director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for Cagayan Valley region, said he has signed the permit allowing FCF Minerals, Inc., a British-owned firm, to begin full-blast mining production at its gold-molybdenum venture in Runruno village in Quezon town.
“They had declared their intent as early as September last year but we needed to conduct our validation, and had to wait for the results of the debugging (test run). I signed (the permit) Monday,” he said.
Ancheta’s approval comes a week after President Duterte slammed mining companies for failing to rehabilitate the damage they cause on the environment, as he belittled the industry’s contributions to the country’s economy.
“All you contribute to the country is about P70 billion in taxes. We can live without it. I would rather follow Gina . . . Get the P70 billion somewhere else, preserve the environment. Huwag na tayo magbolahan (Let us stop fooling each other),” he said during a speech Wednesday in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The President was alluding to former environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who, during her one-year tenure, had professed preference for agriculture and preservation of the environment over billions in revenues from mining.
With its approved commercial operation, the Runruno project will be the second large-scale mining venture to operate in the province of Nueva Vizcaya. In 2013, Australian firm OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. began commercial operations for its gold-copper project in Didipio village in nearby Kasibu town.
Ancheta, however, declined to provide reporters a copy of the document, saying they will wait until the company officially receives its copy.
FCF Minerals is the Philippine subsidiary of Metals Exploration Plc, a British-owned firm that was granted a permit to conduct large-scale mining operations in Runruno, an mineral-rich upland community on the Mamparang-Palali mountain range.
With its Runruno project, FCF Minerals aims to extract in 10 years some 1.39 million ounces of gold, and 25.6 million pounds of molybdenum, a mineral commonly used as alloy for steel.
Its green light to start commercial operations comes on the heels of years of delay and suspension orders over failure to comply with standards.
Earlier this month, the company was again the subject of rebuke from residents who exposed its shipment of gold concentrate even before it was granted permit to start commercial production.
Ancheta clarified that the early shipments of gold were derived from FCF Minerals’ “debugging” activities, or test run of its facilities before its full-scale operations.#