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MGB OKs large-scale mining operation in Vizcaya

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Aug. 3 — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)in Cagayan Region has allowed FCF Minerals Corporation, a British-owned mining firm, to start commercial operations in Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, according to MGB regional director Mario A. Ancheta.

Ancheta said the company has initially set its intent for commercial operation in 2016, but was delayed to ensure its compliance on mining standards.

During the first quarter of 2009, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) endorsed to then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo the application for large-scale mine operation of FCF Minerals.

In March 2009, then DENR Secretary Jose L. Atienza Jr endorsed the conversion of the exploration permit into a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA). The agreement has a term of 25 years and renewable for another term not exceeding 25 years.

An FTAA contract granted the company the exclusive rights to explore, mine, utilize, and transport the mineral products from the contract area. The FTAA of FCF was signed on Sept. 19, 2009.

“Series of exploration activities were conducted by the company. FCF Minerals has also filed in MGB Region II their application for Sworn Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF) with complete mandatory requirements. After conducting our initial evaluation, we endorsed said application to our central office for further review,” Ancheta said.

Last October 18, 2011, DENR approved their DMPF that costs USD700 million. After the approval of their DMPF, the company has started its development stage. FCF has already spent USD149 million for its construction and development stage, aside from other projects committed by the mining company as part of their Community Development Program (CDP).

“FCF submitted their Declaration of Commencement of Commercial Operations (DCCO) in September 2016, but we needed to conduct validation and wait for the results of its debugging (test run),” Ancheta said.

MGB Region II issued a partial suspension on its construction works particularly on its Residual Storage Impoundment (RSI) after it was damaged by Typhoon Lando in 2015.

“We cannot allow mining companies in Cagayan Valley region to continue for lack of compliance in congruent with our existing laws and regulations in mining,” he added.

Ancheta said that the company has already complied with the demand of the bureau to present a rehabilitation plan on its RSI and a clean-up plan on its Malilibeg dumpsite.

After the conduct of series of verification and validation, the bureau lifted the suspension on April 2015.

“We lifted the suspension for rehabilitation purposes with corresponding conditions that are part of the lifting order,” the regional director stated.

FCF Minerals begins its mining operations after more than a decade of exploration and development. The company’s DCCO was signed last Monday, July 17, 2017.

Based on the Feasibility Study of the company, it confirms the viability of the project that intends to extract an average of 96,700 ounces of gold per annum within 10 years of mine life.

On the other hand, Runruno Operations Manager, Peter Storey assured various stakeholders of their full cooperation to comply with mining laws and environmental regulations.

“It is committed to the effective stewardship, protection, and enhancement of the resource endowments in and around the areas where it operates, and conducts its business in a manner which will continuously uphold human development and dignity,” the Runruo operations manager said.

FCF Minerals Corporation is the second large-scale mine in the Cagayan Valley region. The other mining firm, OceanaGold Philippines Incorporated, an Australian mining firm with gold-copper project, is located in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces that started its commercial operations in 2013. (SCD/PNA)

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