Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mining firm earmarks Php528M in educational assistance to host communities
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 13 (PNA) -- The multibillion-peso Canadian-operated Masbate Gold Project (MGP) has announced it is spending in nine years over Php528 million under its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) focused on providing educational assistance to its host communities in Aroroy, Masbate.

In a statement received by the Philippines News Agency here on Tuesday, Filminera Resources Corp. (FRC) communications director Eugenio Gregorio said that in serving 41 host communities, MGP has given high priority to education projects from the Php528.1 million budget for SDMP, which is divided into two phases -- 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.

Formerly owned by CGA Mining Limited of Australia, which acquired MGP from the defunct Atlas Mining Corp. in March 2007, the gold project is now owned by B2Gold Group, a Vancouver-based gold producer which acquired it in 2013 and placed under the management of its subsidiary, FRC.

The MGP mining area, sitting within a 13,000-hectare site, is covered by eight Aroroy town barangays -- Amoroy, Balawing, Bangon, Capsay, Lanang, Panique, Puro, and Syndicate -- all mineral-rich upland villages dominated by farmers.

Considered as the largest operating gold project in the Philippines today, MGP production came up with its first gold poured in May 2009 which in November of the same year recorded a daily production of 17,123 tons.

Average annual gold production over the first eight years of the mine's life was forecast at 200,000 ounces per year valued at some Php13 billion.

The proven and probable mineral reserves of Aroroy gold mine as of April 2013 stood at 103.923 metric tons.

The education projects being undertaken by FRC for its host communities, Gregorio said, consisted mostly of scholarship programs, provision of school transportation, subsidies for teachers and school aides, and provision of classrooms, school facilities, and amenities.

MGP has also helped in building and repairing 37 classrooms, libraries, toilets and fences, Gregorio added.

MGP community relations manager Ramon Velasco, in the same statement, said the improvement of school facilities has proven effective when it comes to the children’s learning capabilities.

“We will continue to work on this commitment to help MasbateƱos get better chances at education and, later on, at life. Education is a top priority in all Filipino households across all social demographics, all over the country. This is why we want to make education accessible to all MasbateƱos and help them achieve their dream of living a better life,” Velasco stressed.

The year 2014 also saw the first batch of SDMP scholar graduates from Panique and Puro, two of the eight host barangays of the MGP wherein one of the graduates is now teaching underprivileged children in the community, he said.

Currently, both barangays have 150 high school and 60 college scholars while Panique National High School also received instruction materials early this year to help facilitate learning, the ComRel official said.

Aside from education, MGP also spearheaded livelihood programs for its host communities as last year, Velasco said barangays Panique and Puro received fertilizers, sewing equipment, fishing nets and carabaos with plows, vegetable production, fertilizers and hog-raising kits.

MGP also conducted the livelihood classes to equip residents with skills for income generation.

“We are committed to help the communities where we operate in achieving their full potential. Until there are improvements to be done, we will continue to address the communities’ needs,” Danilo Latuga, MGP resident manager, said.

This year, MGP also plans to expand projects in the health sector. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS