Mining company accused of encroaching boundary


Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan

TACLOBAN CITY – The local government unit of Guiuan in Eastern Samar has launched an investigation regarding the complaints from residents of Barangay Bitaugan who accuses a mining company encroaching on their boundary.

Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan, in a letter addressed to Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Regional Director Glenn Marcelo Noble, has requested the agency to verify the mining tenement boundary of Emir Mineral Resources (Emir) in Barangay Casuguran on Homonhon Island.

“The residents of Bitaugan claim that Emir’s mining operation is encroaching their barangay area. Hence, the urgency of this request to prevent any violent confrontation,” she said in her April 4, 2024 communication to Noble.

“Moreover, I do not want any mining operation in Barangay Bitaugan because I intend to dedicate this area for agricultural and agro-industrial development,” Mayor Kwan added in her letter.

Mayor Kwan also sent a letter to Emir Mineral Resources Corporation informing the mining company official about her request to MGB-8 for verification of the mining tenement boundary.

“While we await MGB’s verification, I urge your company not to operate in the contested area to avoid further conflict,” her letter to Emir reads.

“Please be informed that I oppose any mining operation in Barangay Bitaugan to ensure the protection and efficient utilization of this area for agricultural and agro-industrial development,” her letter to Emir added.

Both villages of Bitaugan and Casuguran are adjacent to each other though the mining claims of Emir is in Casuguran.

In response to the complaints from Bitaugan residents, the municipal government has dispatched a team to Homonhon Island to conduct a ground investigation and meet with mining companies and barangay officials.

The team, led by Councilor Floriano Bagro, Jr., who heads the committee on environment, and municipal administrator Kinna Kwan, promised to assist the community in addressing the issue and finding sustainable solutions to prevent further harm during their meeting with village officials.

On April 3, several residents of Bitaugan held a rally protesting the operation, alleging that it encroaches on their village, which is not part of the areas approved for mining operation.

Homonhon Island falls under the jurisdiction of Guiuan town. Facing the vast Pacific Ocean, this island has a population of around 4,800 residing in eight villages and boasts a total land area of around 10,000 hectares, larger than the land area of mainland Guiuan.

Known for its historical significance in world navigation as the first area in the country where Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet landed in March 1521, the island is also recognized for its mining operations for nickel and chromite minerals.

Four mining companies currently operate on the island – Emir Mineral Resources Corp., Chromite King Inc., Nickelace Inc., and Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp., with operations primarily in Casuguran and Cagusuan.

These operations also affect the villages of Canawayaun, Pagbabangnan, and Culasi by using the area as their access road.

Aside from Bitaugan, two other villages unaffected by mining are Habag and Inapulangan, although they are not yet accessible by any means of land transport vehicles.