Leyte Samar Daily Express

NAVAL, Biliran- Mining companies are not welcomed in the island province of Biliran. Thus said the province’ lone congressional representative and former governor, Rogelio Espina.

Considering the topographical features of the province, an island composed of eight municipalities and land area of more than 206 square miles, it is not ideal for any mining operations, Espina said.

“I am opposed to any possible mining operations in our province. And I will strongly object any moves by our national government to allow any large-scale mining operations in Biliran,” Espina said in an interview.

The national government is open to any large-scale mining operations so long as necessary measures in protecting the environment are complied as the mining sector is being viewed by it as another big source of revenue.

Based on records of the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), there are pending mining applications across the province.

The companies which applied for large-scale mining operations in the province were Citigroup Philippines Corp. which has applied on January 2,2008 for gold covering 10,724.33 hectares in the towns of Caibiran, Biliran,Cabucgayan and Naval, the provincial capitol and another 1,691 hectares in Caibiran town for magnetite(black sand); Canaan Richfield Inc. with an application dated June 26,2008 to mine gold in the towns of Almeria and Kawayan covering 5,695.44 hectares; Starrex Mining and Development Corp. which seeks to mine magnetite (black sands) covering 5,073 hectares from the towns of Naval, Biliran, Almeria and Culaba.

But since all these applications are pending before their office, no actual mining operations are existing in any part of the province, mining engineer Jerry Baretto of the MGB-8 said in a separate interview.

“All the mineral production sharing agreement applications by these companies are still pending. They have yet to comply with the mandatory requirements like topographic map of the areas to be mined; filing fees and resolution or endorsement coming from the provincial, municipal and barangay,” Baretto said.

Espina said that if mining, either large-scale and small-scale mining would be allowed in his province, there is the possibility that calamities attributed to mining would happen in Biliran, the smallest province of the entire Eastern Visayas.

He is zealous in protecting the province’ environment that he is encouraging people in the villages to help the provincial government, now headed by his younger brother, Gerardo Espina,Jr. to plant trees.

Under the national greening program, about 385,000 trees of different varieties covering 707 hectares have been planted across the province since December of last year, he said.

Before his term ended in 2010 as governor, Espina signed an ordinance prohibiting any mining operations across the province.

By Joey A. Gabieta
Staff Writer

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