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Business

DENR chief pushes Nueva Vizcaya gold project

- Marianne V. Go -

MANILA, Philippines - Acting Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Eleazar P. Quinto wants to get back on stream the Didipio gold project of Oceana Gold.

In his first press conference, Quinto said that he is prioritizing the resolution of the dispute between Oceana Gold and Nueva Vizcaya Governor Luisa Cuaresma over alleged quarrying activities of Oceana Gold.

According to Quinto, he plans to talk to Gov. Cuaresma to hopefully resolve the almost two-year dispute.

“Plano ko rin kausapin si Gov. Cuaresma, baka naman under my watch baka mapabilis yung pagpapatuloy ng proseso. Parang personal position lang naman yan ni Gov. Cuaresma, nagkaroon ng problema, and because of that nagmatigasan. (I plan to talk to Gov. Cuaresma, maybe under my watch I might be able to speed up the process. It seems it’s just the personal position of Gov. Cuaresma, a problem ensued and then a hardening of positions),” Quinto explained.

The Didipio gold project is supposed to be one of the major mining investment projects of the government.

Perhaps as a result of its dispute with the Nueva Vizcaya local government and the local community, Oceana Gold temporarily suspended operations of the Didipio gold project in 2008.

The Didipio gold project is located in Barangay Didipio, municipality of Kasibut in Nueva Vizcaya.

Oceana Gold has also been trying to seek another strategic partner to help finance the Didipio project.

Oceana Gold in a disclosure with the Australian Stock Exchange in October last year had assured that while the Didipio project remains on “care and  maintenance, we are advancing a technical and optimization study for the Didipio project.”

Oceana also assured that “various environmental initiatives are ongoing near our development site.”

The mining firm also continues to acquire remaining minority land parcels through negotiated settlement and legal process, and continues to engage in community and social commitments within the region.

Aside from moving forward the Didipio gold project, Quinto said that he would continue with the policy of former Environment and Natural Resources Jose L. Atienza of “use it or lose it” with regards to existing mining tenements.

According to Quinto, he will not tolerate mining firms that are merely engaging in land-banking and have no intention of going into actual mining operations.

“I will pursue the policy of use it or lose it,” Quinto vowed, pointing out that there is supposed to be a two-year  period for operations to start after securing the necessary exploration permit, or Mineral Processing and Sharing Agreement (MPSA).

Mining firms that are merely engaging in land-banking, Quinto said, are those that have applied for the necessary permits for a specific area and do not engage in any operation, but instead look for buyers for their tenement.

The DENR, thus, Quinto said, would complete the review of all mining tenements and penalize those who continue to have no activity.

ACTING ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY ELEAZAR P

AUSTRALIAN STOCK EXCHANGE

BARANGAY DIDIPIO

CUARESMA

DIDIPIO

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES JOSE L

GOLD

NUEVA VIZCAYA

OCEANA GOLD

PROJECT

QUINTO

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