KIBUNGAN, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) ruled out the feared resumption of mining by Western Minolco Mining Corporation in its abandoned Boneng mine in Barangay Lubo saying that the presence of individuals visiting the site is part of a process leading towards the rehabilitation of the abandoned mine.
MGB-CAR regional director Engr. Fay Apil stated that the risk assessment being conducted by individuals permitted by the MGB central office in the abandoned Boneng mine is part of the so-called risk assessment as part of the process for the rehabilitation of the abandoned mine once the company will have the required funds to rehabilitate the same.
Earlier, barangay officials and residents in Lubo raised concern on the presence of individuals visiting the abandoned mine which might be a prelude to the possible resumption of mining operations that might further damage the environment of the place.
The MGB-CAR official assured the barangay officials and residents in the area that there will be no resumption of mining operations but there will be rehabilitation works that will be undertaken by the mining company once the funds that will be needed for the mine rehabilitation will be available to rehabilitate the abandoned mine site.
Based on the data from the MGB, there are 11 abandoned mines in the country where 6 mine sites have completed the required risk assessment in preparation for rehabilitation while 5 mine sites which are all located in Benguet are yet to be subjected to the said risk assessment.
Among the mine sites that have not yet undergone the mandatory risk assessment include the Sto. Niño mine, Boneng Mine, Baguio Gold, Black Mountain and Benguet Exploration, Inc.
Director Apil claimed that the agency will be at the forefront in closely monitoring the activities of the various mining companies in their active mine sites or abandoned mines to ensure that whatever movements that will be done to ensure that the same will be in compliance to existing laws, rules and regulations governing their activities.
She pointed out that mining companies are mandated to rehabilitate their abandoned mines based on their approved final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plan where the companies are required to provide the required funding support for the realization of their respective plans that will help in restoring the abandoned mine close to its previous state.
Under existing laws, rules and regulations, mining companies are mandated to submit to the regulatory agency their proposed final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plans subject to approval by the Compliance Liabilities and Rehabilitation Fund Committee (CLRFC) prior to being returned to the MGB regional office concerned and the mining company for implementation.
The implementation of the mine rehabilitation plans of mining companies will be closely monitored by their respective multipartite monitoring teams to ensure that the contents of the said plans will be the ones that will be executed by the concerned mining companies in the rehabilitation of their mine sites after the projected end of their mine life pursuant to existing rules and regulations.
The Cordillera is one of the mineralized areas in the country after having played host to the operation of dozens of mining operations over the past several decades.