Prov’l Board probes large-scale mining in 4 towns, 1 city
THE provincial board is set to dig into a reported attempt of an Australian firm for large-scale mining activities in four coastal towns and one city during the Question Hour on September 13, Tuesday.
The board invited some officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil as president of the Mayors’ League of Pangasinan, to determine the extent of activities of the Australian company.
In his privilege speech last Monday, Second District Board Member Von Mark Mendoza apprised the board of the proposed iron ore offshore magnetite mining project in the towns of Sual, Labrador, Lingayen, Binmaley and Dagupan City that covers a total area of 9,252.4506 hectares.
Mendoza said it came to him “as a surprise that as we are in a pandemic, how and why a large-scale mining is about to be undertaken during the pandemic” in five areas.
He said he only came to know about the mining activity when someone sent him a link via Facebook alerting residents in those areas and urging them to oppose it.
The FB post identified the project proponent Iron Ore, Gold, and Vanadium Resources (Phils.) Inc., an Australian mineral exploration company.
The company is reportedly applying for an Environmental Compliance Certificate for its Category A : Environmentally Critical Project which entails extraction of metallic and non-metallic minerals including extraction of oil and gas, deuterium (off-shore).
The proposed project is already covered by a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) No. 07-2020-IOMR approved by the Office of the President on November 25, 2020.
“This project will directly impact on our coastal and marine resources, exacerbate climate and disaster risks, permanently alter natural ecosystems, and economically displace fisherfolk and communities,” said Mendoza echoing the Facebook post’s statement.
The proponent is already reportedly conducting public hearings via Zoom.
Provincial Legal Officer Geraldine Baniqued told the board members that the Office of the Governor received a letter from the proponent and was forwarded to her office but her office did not reply since she was not sure of specific actions required.
She said a certain Marilou Laurio, president of Vanadium Resources (Phils.) Inc. submitted a copy of the financial and technical assistance agreement reportedly approved By Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on authority of the President to the Governor’s office but no specific action was required from her office.
Sixth District Board Member Noel Bince wondered if the mining activity is a project of the national government and whether public hearings must be conducted.
Bince said given the circumstances, the provincial board should closely monitor the developments. (Eva Visperas)
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