Davao Oriental says no to mineral reservation near UNESCO heritage site

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THE PROVINCIAL board of Davao Oriental is now working on a resolution that will formalize the local government’s stand against the declaration of an area in General Generoso town as a mineral reservation site. In a statement, Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang said the proposed mining area is “in close proximity to Davao Oriental’s crown jewel, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary which is Mindanao’s first and only World Heritage Site declared by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).” Following a two-day consultation with stakeholders and officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) last March 12-13, Mr. Dayanghirang said the province’s municipal governments as well as barangays have also agreed to issue local resolutions opposing the plan.

MINERAL RICH
The proposed mineral reservation area, according to the MGB, covers around 8,497 hectares that survey results indicate have rich deposits of chromite, nickel laterite, and copper. The area is also home to several watersheds which have “water quality classified as Class AA.” During the consultation, MGB’s Noel Angeles assured that any decision for a declaration still rests on the local government and the people. “If there’s no support from the community to push for the declaration, the proposition will not move,” he said.

IMPACT
Mr. Dayanghirang said while mining would provide an economic boost to the province, the cost on the environment and communities in the surrounding areas is far greater. The mayor said the provincial government is working on bringing in more investments in other sectors such as agriculture and tourism, which would provide a more sustainable development. “The foreseen financial income or revenues purported to be gained through mining operation in the site could not equate with the value of the destruction of the area such as the would-be forgone ecological values of the biodiversity as well as the biological assets like the local watersheds and scenery which would all be negatively affected by eventual mining operation,” he said, “What’s important is that we preserve our natural resources for the next generation.”