GONZAGA, Cagayan: From a mere fishing municipality, this town is now becoming one of Cagayan’s economic hub contributing more than P300 million to the local government’s coffers for the past three years.
Mayor Carlito Pentecostes said the town’s revenue has tremendously increased, the bulk of which was generated from quarrying and extraction of magnetite even “surpassing” other locally generated sour- ces combined.
”Magnetite mining in our town has contributed at least P300 million to the town’s coffers in the last three years,” said Pentecostes.
Such amount represents the revenue collected from 2010 to October this year.
The municipal executive said the increase in revenue was realized despite opposition by anti-mining advocates backed by local religious groups.
”My strong support to the industry did not wane because I knew from the very start that the town will become one of the province’s most progressive town through mining,” he said.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), other Cagayan coastal towns hosting the Chinese-financed magnetite industry included Aparri, Buguey and Santa Teresita; Lallo which lies along the Cagayan river also hosted magnetite mining.
”I was neither moved despite opposition by the local Church where I belong because I knew very well that mining in my town can be done responsibly,” Pentecostes said.
He said he had to appeal to the anti-mining groups and individuals to consider the economic gain it can bring to the municipality and the townspeople.
”Now, the industry has been gaining wide acceptance due to bullish economic impact, also generating employment to many locals,” Pentecostes said.
Also as a result, the chief executive said, villagers in the coastline of Gonzaga are now able to utilized flooded lands, now protected due to magnetite operators’ activities such as dredging and cleaning up of the coastal areas and the Cagayan River.
Region 2 MGB director, Mario Ancheta, also a mining engineer, said they have continually and strictly monitored each magnetite operations in the province of Cagayan and even suspended some of them which were found to have violated existing mining laws.
“We are very strict in implementing our mining laws blocking mining companies to operate within the prohibited zone which is the 200-meter distance from the shoreline,” Ancheta said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Alvaro Antonio of Cagayan also defended said mining activities in the province saying they have “pertinent permits” from the provincial government to operate which are in conformity with existing mining regulations.
The northern Cagayan coastline is a mineral-rich area particularly that of magnetite or black sand which commands a high price in foreign markets.
Magnetite is used as additive in processing steel, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry, cosmetics and many more.