Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Deloso to mining firms: ‘Show social conscience’

IBA, Zambales —Gov. Amor Deloso has warned mining companies operating in this province to show respect for the local community and contribute to the development of Zambales, as they continue to profit from the extraction of minerals here.

“They should show some social conscience because they’re just permittees who make a living off our land,” Deloso said. “They don’t own the mountains here. They should give us some respect.”

Deloso issued the warning as Zambales authorities apprehended on Saturday a contractor who was found to have exceeded the volume of ores that it can haul from the stockpile of Pilipinas Mining Corp., which operates a small-scale mining concession in the province.

The overhauling, in effect, deprived the provincial government of the proper amount of excise taxes that it earns from the operation of small-scale miners, the governor said.

“Instead of cheating Zambales from the token income the province is allowed to get from the mining industry, you should try to give something in return for the riches you bring out of our province,” Deloso told the contractor.

At the same time, the governor advised a new investor here, Sanofil Allied Conglomerates, a Japanese firm investing P15 million for the operation of an ore-loading port in Iba town, to work for community acceptance “so that the people would feel the benefits of your operations.”

Deloso said that while Zambales has rich mineral deposits, the province has not taken off from mining operations in the last 75 years, mainly because the taxes go directly to the national government.

He said that as it is, most of the Zambales mountains are now covered by about 30 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) that do not yield any income for the local government.

The MPSAs are approved by the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Zambales has lost about P3 billion in uncollected taxes due to the MPSAs,” he said.

Deloso added that the situation is all the more unfair to Zambales because the local communities are the ones that suffer from pollution and other inconveniences from mining operations.

He said the lack of adequate income, on one hand and the attendant risks on the other have bedeviled Zambales since major players began digging here decades ago for chromite ores, as well as gold and nickel.

“Acoje Mines was in Sta. Cruz town for 75 years, Benguet Mining Corp. was in Masinloc for 50 years and in San Marcelino for 25 years, yet nothing happened to these mining communities. There was no progress,” Deloso rued. Written by Henry Empeño / Business MIrror Correspondent

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