Albay asks DENR on status of rehab of closed mine site
By Cet Dematera
The Albay provincial government would inquire with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) particularly the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) in Bicol regarding the status of the rehabilitation of the closed big mining site on the island Rapu-Rapu town.
Albay Governor-elect Noel E. Rosal, in an interview on Monday, June 6, said that part of his plan is to look at and monitor the accomplishments of the implementation for the rehabilitation of mining sites to make sure that the place is safe and could be beneficial to the surrounding communities.
“We just only want to know the progress of rehabilitation but the provincial government has no jurisdiction in the rehab implementation because it is under the jurisdiction of MGB,” Rosal added.
The plan of Rosal was apparently an offshoot of a circulating report that the mining site rehabilitation has been dragging for several years now after the mining company ceased operations in 2018..
Engr Danilo Molina, MGB Bicol director, in a separate interview said that the mining company has accomplished already 84 percent of its rehabilitation work that included the plantation of pine trees, cogon grass, and other endemic plants, including the road construction from urban areas connecting to the mining site.
He said the mining firm has deposited in the government depository bank P309 million for the rehabilitation and other improvements of the place.
“We will give the mining company at least five years to finish the rehabilitation work in order for the government to plan what is the best thing to do for the place to be more beneficial to the people,” Molina added.
Molina added the mining site was approved already by the DENR to convert it to eco-tourism and agro-tourism sites, adding that the area is needing more infrastructures, like roads and bridges including sustainable distribution of power and water.
The rehabilitation site is in the villages of Pagcolbong, Malobago and Binosawan, and spread out in101 hectares, that included the 26 hectares open pit, 24 hectares tailing facilities, five hectares of processing plant, and 26 hectares of tailing storage enbancment.
The mining operation in the area started on 2005 by the Lafayette mining firm but it was stopped in 2013 based on an order of the DENR due to alleged violations. But it was taken over by the Rapu Rapu Mining Company in November 2013, which discovered the area to be also rich in silver, copper-zinc and gold.