MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Puerto Princesa' Hagedorn Rejects Mining Projects

Published by MAC on 2007-08-21

Puerto Princesa' Hagedorn rejects mining projects

By Redempto Anda, Southern Luzon Bureau

21st August 2007

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines -- The ongoing nickel ore rush in southern Palawan may have attracted all sorts of mining investors big and small, dubious and legitimate.

But the roads leading to the reddish brown soil that Palawan's landscape is famous for just ended at the entrance to Puerto Princesa City, the province's capital and host to wide areas of high-grade nickel ore.

Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn on Tuesday said he will not approve any of the pending mining applications in the city -- at least during the remainder of his three-year term.

At the same time, he called for the filing of a resolution in the city council that will declare a 25-year moratorium on mining in Puerto Princesa.

"If the mining companies can show me a place with intact forest cover and where people have become wealthy and healthy after a massive mining operation, I might change my mind," Hagedorn told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

Hagedorn was reacting to questions on how the city government will respond to reported offers for assistance of major mining companies eyeing to put up nickel ore mining operations in Puerto Princesa.

"The ugly sight of the denuded forests of Sta. Lourdes and the mercury mine tailings that were dumped along Honda Bay only strengthen my resolve to oppose mining operations here in Puerto Princesa," he added.

Hagedorn explained that the recent conversion of Puerto Princesa into a highly urbanized city allowed them to be administratively independent of the provincial government and gave them the power to deny with finality all small-scale permit applications previously approved by the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB).

Small-scale mining permits are awarded by the PMRB. In Palawan, they are used by big mining companies to start up large-scale mining operations, ostensibly because they are easier to acquire than the large-scale mining permits given by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Hagedorn's announcement effectively turned down reported overtures from several major mining companies, including Atlas Consolidated Nickel Mining Corporation whose subsidiary, Berong Nickel Mining Corporation, is eyeing to set up operations near Ulugan Bay overlooking the St. Paul 's Subterranean River National Park.

Instead of jumping into the Palawan bandwagon where all municipalities embraced mining investors with open arms, Hagedorn said the city government has mapped out "a strategic plan to boost our tourism and agriculture sector."

"In line with our sustainable development vision, we can only promote two major industries -- tourism and agriculture. That is why we are allocating more funds to enhance our tourism program," Hagedorn said.

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