Gov’t execs back campaign to keep mining off Guimaras

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:28:00 08/16/2008

JORDAN, GUIMARAS – Stickers and streamers emblazoned with “Spare Guimaras” have appeared in this province marking the start of a campaign against mining on the island.

Guimaras Gov. Felipe Nava said the province would launch the campaign against approved and pending applications for mining in the province because of its environmental and health effects.

The applications covered 70-80 percent of the 60,000-hectare island, with areas ranging from 2,000 to 30,000 ha, Nava said.

“This will destroy the island,” Nava told reporters here on Monday at the sidelines of the briefing on rehabilitation efforts on areas devastated by the August 2006 oil spill.

Guimaras is known for its pristine beaches, export-quality mangoes and rich natural resources.

Nava, a physician, said the province has seen the devastating effects of mining in Sipalay City in Negros Occidental and other areas that were ravaged by years of mining operations.

“We can recover from an oil spill but damage from mining operations would be permanent,” he said.

Nava said the province does not oppose all forms of mining but only large-scale mining and extraction of minerals like gold and copper, which would require deep and massive excavations.

The people of Guimaras earlier voiced their opposition to the mining exploration application of Fil-Asian Strategic Resources and Properties Corp. (FASRPC).

FASRPC, a subsidiary of the Australia-based Rusina Mining NL, plans to explore for gold and copper deposits in a 2,400-ha area covering nine of 20 villages of Nueva Valencia.

The villages covered by the application include Napandong, Sto. Domingo, Lucmayan, San Roque, Salvacion, La Paz, Cabalagnan, Canhawan and Igdarapdap.

The firm also applied for a permit for mining exploration on a 621-ha area on Pan De Azucar Island in Concepcion, Iloilo.

Nava said the people must be vigilant against mining because mining applications no longer require the approval of local government units.

The province plans to join the Partnership for Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (Pemsea) to strengthen its antimining campaign.

The Pemsea currently includes the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Bataan.

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