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Albay declares total ban on mining as gov downplays mining gains in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, March 28 – No new mining exploration will be allowed in Albay after members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) passed a resolution strongly opposing any mining activity in the entire province.

The unanimously approved anti-mining resolution authored by Board Member Arnold Embestro cited that the conduct of future mining exploration or other mining activities would indubitably jeopardize the environment including depletion of the province's mineral and natural resources.

The negative environmental impact of mining explorations have prompted SP to strongly oppose the conduct of mining activities in Albay.

The SP said that the resolution was made to protect and preserve the environment including its natural and mineral resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.

The SP resolution signed by nine of the 14-man SP was subsequently approved and signed by Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

Earlier, Salceda downplayed the gains from mining operations as reported by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and said that the benefit was only miniscule compared to the destruction caused on the environment.

Salceda, who is one of the country’s top economists, said the gains from mining operations are only artificial as it bloats the region’s Gross Value Added (GVA).

Reports said the operation of three mining firms in Bicol have boosted the region’s economy after it produced a total of P11.4 billion worth of metallic and non-metallic products and paid P782.6 million in taxes last year.

Salceda said that of this amount, the local folks received only P41 million in terms of paid taxes.

“This report only makes me more angry, and more committed to oppose mining in Albay,” he declared.

He said that commitment by the three mining firms to operate in a responsible manner by committing a total of P310 million to environmental protection remains as a “commitment” and would be undelivered after they empty all the region's reserve of natural resources.

“It is really for decommissioning of the mining area whose only benefit is that it prevents a bigger environmental disaster after they disrupt our ecosystem,” he said.

Engr. Reynulfo A. Juan, MBG regional director for Bicol, said these mining companies are: Masbate Gold Project, operating in Aroroy town in Masbate province; the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP), operating in Rapu-Rapu town in Albay; and the Palanog Cement Plant project (PCLP), operating in Camalig town also in Albay. (PNA)

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