LAOAG CITY, May 11 (PIA) – The government will exclude eco-tourism sites from areas that are being plotted as mineral reservations by the Mines Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Engr. Roel Collado, chief of the MGB’s Mine Management Division in Region 1, said the bureau has coordinated with the Department of Tourism and chief executives of local government units to identify eco-tourism sites in their areas for exclusion from the proposed reservation sites.
“We will plot these eco-tourism sites from our maps as excluded from the mineral reservation areas so that they will be closed for mining exploration and development,” he said.
In Ilocos Norte for example, Collado said the DOT and LGUs have yet to determine which areas are considered eco-tourism sites.
“But we are inclined to protect known tourism sites such as Adams, Burgos and the stretch of sand dunes in Laoag and Paoay as excluded from mineral reservations,” he said.
The MGB is in the process of consolidating the results of public consultations with various stakeholders for the identification of mineral reservations in the towns of Vintar, Solsona, Carasi, Piddig, Nueva Era, and Adams covering a total area of 61,203 hectares.
Collado said the public hearings have been completed and that the MGB will furnish a report to the DENR central office detailing the results of such hearings.
He said the public hearings, which began in early January, were met with mixed reactions from the affected communities.
Collado said most residents in those six towns were favorable to the identification of mineral reservations except for Vintar where a strong opposition was noted to the declaration.
Collado said the MGB has recognized the position of those who are against the declaration of mining reserves.
“We will exclude the areas where communities are opposed to the proposed mineral reservation,” he said.
Collado said declaring an area a mineral reservation would compel a mining firm to pay higher royalties and, in the process, generate more revenues for the government.
At present, the government gets only 2 percent share of gross sale from mining operations in areas covered by mining agreements in the form of the excise tax.
The government, however, will get an additional 5 percent in royalties if the mining operations are held in declared mineral reservation areas, Collado added. (PIA-1 Ilocos Norte)