mining in the Philippines

Mayor stops mining firm operations in Surigao del Norte town

Roel Catoto
Mayor stops mining firm operations in Surigao del Norte town

MINING. Heavy equipment are being used by the mining company for the building of the wharf in Barangay Jubgan, San Francisco town in Surigao del Norte, on November 6, 2021. Photo by Roel Catoto

Photo by Roel Catoto

San Francisco Mayor Val Pinat says GoSun Corporation began operations even without the necessary permit

The mayor of San Francisco town in Surigao del Norte stopped a mining company’s operations in a remote village, saying it had no permit to carry out the activities.

San Francisco Mayor Val Pinat said on Thursday night, November 11, that he ordered GoSun Corporation to leave the remote village of Jubgan because its operations posed a threat to the environment.

“I told the company to pull out its heavy equipment,” Pinat said. 

Pinat said the company was building a wharf and a road along a river leading to a mining site, without a permit.

Ramon Gotinga, one of the owners of GoSun, confirmed that the firm stopped the operations in Jubgan this week following a public dialogue participated in by the company’s executives, local and environment officials, and townsfolk at the pastoral center in San Francisco town on Tuesday, November 9.

Gotinga is also the assistant provincial administrator of Surigao del Norte.

Gotinga said the company’s plan was to ship out 100,000 tons of copper ore, iron ore, and mineral ore to China.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director for Caraga Larry Hernadez said the agency “cannot issue a cease-and-desist order” against the company “because they don’t have a permit in the first place.”

Hernandez, however said the company, also known as Siargao Waves Corporation, had applied for a permit before the MGB.

Gotinga said GoSun and Siargao Waves are one and the same.

Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief Ruel Efren said his office has also not issued a permit to the mining company.

Philippine Ports of Authority (PPA) manager for Surigao Al Caturla said his office did not give any clearance for the wharf construction in Barangay Jubgan.

No-mining zone

Pinat said the municipl council declared San Francisco town as a no-mining zone in 2014, following protests against the large-scale mining operations of another company, Surimin Mining Corporation.

Surimin undertook a project supposedly to provide a farm-to-market road in the village. Its operations started a firestorm of criticism in the town, and the company was subsequently forced to stop operations. According to the MGB, Surimin’s 2014 operations left the area where it operated destroyed.

Surimin earlier executed a deed assigning an area of 3,991 hectares traversing San Francisco town and Surigao City, to Siargao Minerals Properties. Siargao Minerals then allowed GoSun to operate in a part of the 3,991 hectares through a contract.

Pinat said that in October, townsfolk again began complaining about the river’s murky waters and massive siltation as a result of mining operations, this time, of GoSun.

On November 6, GoSun sent dump trucks, payloaders, and backhoes to Jubgan for its wharf and road projects.

Jubgan barangay chairman Harry Amalla said the mining firm started operating in October.

The barangay, he said, requested the firm, through Gotinga, to build a road and send the heavy equipment.

The wharf project, he said, was for mineral extracts, but it would eventually serve as a fish port after it has been turned over to the barangay based on an agreement. –