A mangrove plantation on the coastal waters of Sitio Looc, Brgy. Libay, in Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte, Nov. 2 | ANNA VARONA

Philex Mining expands Sibutad mangrove plantation

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

40,300 mangrove propagules were planted across 6.73 hectares in 2013

Philex Mining Corp.•€™s Sibutad Project has continued expanding its mangrove plantation in Zamboanga del Norte, with 40,300 propagules planted in a 6.73-hectare area in 2013, bringing to 111,135 the total number of suckers planted across a coastal area of 14.58 hectares since 2011.  

Ramil Mundo, resident manager of Sibutad Project, explained that the mangrove planting, which was first done in 1998, has been carried out through SPECMA, or the Sibutad Project Employees Care and Maintenance Association (composed of the company•€™s former employees), since its revival three years ago.  

While the Sibutad Project plans to plant more mangrove suckers in Sibutad town•€™s other coastal areas, its 2013 activity was focused along the Murcielagos Bay, in Sitio Looc, Brgy. Libay, as part of a commitment drawn up with the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in Zamboanga del Norte, in 1997.  

Brgy. Libay is outside Sibutad Project•€™s MPSA, or Mineral Production Sharing Agreement, which covers a 3,515-hectare property, but still within Sibutad town. Only 38 hectares of the entire property had been utilized for actual mining operations, but Philex-Sibutad had forested 157.11 hectares with 509,011 trees as of Nov. 2012.  

€œWe have forested a vast area that was once covered only thinly with cogon grass,•€ Mr. Mundo said. •€œNow Sibutad is covered with endemic and exotic trees and lush vegetation. It is also home to many exotic animals, such as the Philippine cobra, monitor lizard, and the red-tailed green ratsnake.•€  

He added that between 1998 and 2001, the first three years of the mangrove-planting program, the Sibutad Project planted 50,062 propagules in 8.35 hectares of land in Brgy. Libay, 44,426 propagules in a 7.41-hectare area in Brgy. Kanim, and 7,734 propagules in 1.29 hectares of land in Brgy. Calube, all in Sibutad town.  

A memorandum of agreement was signed in Oct. 1997 between Philex-Sibutad and DENR-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO), through the Coastal Enhancement Program, which called for Philex-Sibutad to plant forest-tree seedlings and mangrove propagules in Brgys. Libay, Kanim, and Calube.  

The mangrove-planting program cost P1.11 million for the three-year period starting from 1998, and was implemented in partnership with the People•€™s Organization. The project was turned over to the DENR-PENRO in Apr. 2001.  

Mr. Mundo stressed that low metal prices had made Philex Mining stop the Sibutad Project, which it operated between 1997 and 1999 through Philex Mining subsidiary, Philex Gold Philippines, Inc. The project has since been placed on a care-and-maintenance phase under Philex Mining•€™s FMRDP, or Final Mine Rehabilitation and/or Decommissioning Plan.