Mining site on Rapu-Rapu island, Albay province. (Photo by Emmanuel Solis)

LEGAZPI CITY – Albay Governor-elect Noel Rosal said part of the agenda of his incoming administration is to look at and monitor the accomplishments in the rehabilitation of mining sites to make sure these are safe and beneficial to the surrounding communities.

In an interview on Wednesday, he said once he assumes the post, the provincial government of Albay would coordinate with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) about the status of the rehabilitation of the closed mining site on Rapu-Rapu island that is being implemented by Rapu Rapu Mining Company.

“We 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.

It was earlier reported that the mining site rehabilitation has been dragging for several years now after the mining company ceased operations in 2013.

Guillermo Molina IV, MGB director for Bicol, in a separate interview, said the mining company has accomplished 84 percent of its rehabilitation work including the planting of pine trees, cogon grass, and other endemic plants, and the road construction in urban areas connecting to the mining site.

He said the mining firm has deposited in the government depository bank PHP309 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.

He said the DENR has approved the planned conversion of the mining site into eco-tourism and agro-tourism areas.

Molina said more infrastructure such as roads and bridges have to be built in the closed mining site, as well as sustainable power and water distribution facilities.

Under rehabilitation in Rapu-Rapu are the villages of Pagcolbong, Malobago, and Binosawan, covering over 101 hectares, including 26 hectares of the open pit, 24 hectares of tailing facilities, five hectares of the processing plant, and 26 hectares of tailing storage enhancement.

The mining operation in the area was started in 2005 by the Lafayette mining firm but it was stopped in 2013 due to alleged environmental law violations.

The Rapu Rapu Mining Company then took over and was given 10 years by the DENR to rehabilitate the site. (PNA)