By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu have recently cited the Masbate Gold Project operating in Aroroy Masbate for its responsible mining practices.
“This is the best mine site I have seen,” said Cimatu during his mine tour at the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) on Saturday.
In an interview on Tuesday, Marrione Ruiz, MGP public affairs and information officer said Cimatu during the inspection tour at the mine site Cimatu noted the coral reef rehab project and the progressive and temporary rehabilitation efforts of MGP.
“Maybe we can use that (reefball) technology in Boracay rehab” Cimatu quipped during the presentation.
Ruiz said MGP’s coral rehabilitation project seeks to restore the coral reef cover in Port Barrera that has been severely damaged by dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, and overfishing using unsustainable methods.
Through the installation of reefballs that has been shaped with biological uses in mind and engineered to stand up to the forces of nature, the rehabilitation work will mitigate the loss of coral reef within the marine protected area (MPA) and enhance natural reef as it recovers, she said.
Moreover, it is anticipated to provide habitat for surrounding fish stocks enabling it to recover whilst providing alternative sources of livelihood through the restoration process and the active management of the area.
Ruiz said Cimatu and party, including DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, went around to inspect the rehabilitated areas and active mine pits.
Cimatu was quoted saying “This is really the best mine I have visited,” he said during the mine tour. “You can see that the mining operation is well-planned and well-engineered. I believe that the way you mine shows how you are as a company,” he added.
This was in reference to Masbate Gold Project technically being a Hard Rock terrace or bench type mine as differentiated from the “Open Pit Mining Method” (surface or strip mining practice) employed by other mine sites around the country.
At the mine inspection Gloria Tan Climaco, Filminera chairperson, said the MGP will continue to do its best to maintain its standards of safety, community development, and environmental protection, “so that we can continue to be the ‘best mine site’ and serve as a model to other companies in terms of environmental protection and preservation,” she said.
“We are sincere in fulfilling our commitment to create a sustainable environment for the impact barangays that surround us, while bringing economic development to Aroroy,” she added.
Cimatu was invited to open the annual Rodeo Festival in Masbate Province and took the opportunity to visit the MGP which is operating in Aroroy Town, an hour and a half away from Masbate City by land.
Prior to the mine tour, Filminera Resources Corporation (Filminera) Vice President for Operations Sulpicio Bernardo III presented the project profile and Phil. Gold Refining & Processing Corp. (Phil. Gold) President Ray Mead presented MGP’s Environmental compliance and initiatives.
MGP is jointly operated by Filminera and Phil Gold. Filminera is the holder of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, the mining tenements, surface rights and the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), while Phil. Gold, a B2Gold company, is the holder of a mineral processing permit and owns and operates the processing plant.
MGP is the single largest investment in the municipality of Aroroy. The project has helped catapult the town from a 4th class municipality to 1st class through provision of employment opportunities to the community residents, taxes paid to local and national government, the social development and management program (SDMP) and environmental conservation efforts.
Ray Mead, Phil Gold President, says it is good that the DENR secretary was able to tour the minesite, and can possibly apply reefball technology in use at MGP for the rehabilitation efforts for Boracay. “In showing the technology to the DENR secretary, we are glad to have given him a model for coastal resource management,” he said.
MGP’s coral reef rehabilitation started in December 2017 when they installed 125 reefballs and rescued and propagated over 1,200 corals. This program is being greatly expanded through 2018 and it is anticipated that more than 600 additional reefballs and potentially 10,000 corals will be propagated in 2018 alone. Through MGP’s in house marine expertise, the project has maintained over 80% survival rate of rescued corals planted to date.