by Cristina Arzadon
LAOAG CITY — “We shouldn’t close our doors to mining. If minerals are not tapped, we would not have the necessary products, tools and equipment used in our daily lives.”
Juan de los Reyes, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer, said instead of a total mining ban, the government must ensure the compliance of mining companies to responsible mining.
“If mining is illegal, then that is destructive. But if companies observe responsible mining, then the government and the people will benefit from it,” he said.
De Los Reyes said mining companies go through a long process before they are issued permits. The approval does not come from the government alone.
“A multi-partite monitoring group ensures that companies will observe mitigating measures including rehabilitation of mountains and lands after the mining contract has ended,” he said.
In Ilocos Norte, for example, the province is rich in chromite (used for the production of steel products), feldspar (for porcelain), copper and gold.
De los Reyes said before companies could proceed exploring or extracting minerals, they need to secure the approval of indigenous peoples where the minerals are found, clearance from the barangay and local government unit and other stakeholders.
He said the DENR also ensures that mining is confined only in areas declared as mineralized area so that indiscriminate mining will be avoided.
At present, only two mining companies are conducting small-scale mining operations in the towns of Pasuquin (for feldspar) and Nueva Era (for magnetite sand).
The DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau, community leaders and other stakeholders ensure that the companies complied with regulations before they were granted permits to operate.#