IBA -- Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. has issued his first order to freeze all small-scale mining and quarrying operations in the province.

Ebdane cancelled all 110 mining and quarry permits issued by the previous administration.

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He explained that he decided to cancel all the permits to enable strict enforcement of environmental safeguards among mining and quarrying firms, as well as the proper collection of fees for the local coffers.

"Effective immediately, I am canceling all mining and quarrying permits issued in the province of Zambales," Ebdane said. "Our review shows that there are deficiencies, misrepresentation of facts, and obvious violations of the mining law, and we must take the hard step to make things right."

During his inauguration in Iba last June 30, Ebdane told reporters that he will be asking for a review of all the mining permits and will come out with a decision to suspend or let it go.

The governor also formed a review committee to review the permitting process and gave them one month to come up with their recommendations.

A total of 98 small-scale mining and 12 quarrying operations were previously given the go-signal of the former administration of former governor Amor Deloso.

Chromites, magnetite or black sand, copper, talc, nickel and gold are a few minerals being extracted in the province while armored rock and sand are among the most quarried in Zambales.

Large-scale mining companies however were spared from the order since they get permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Ebdane meanwhile said that they will also review the operation of the large scale mining companies.

"While they get their permits from the national office of the DENR, we can still insist that their operations should strictly conform to environmental requirements," he added.

"We have set our sights on boosting tourism, agriculture, mining, as well as providing better opportunities in education, health and other basic services," Ebdane said.

"What I am on the lookout for are the funds and resources for the programs that we need to get going to jump-start our growth agenda," he added.

He added that aside from the province’s internal-revenue allotment, the mining industry would be a good source of revenue for the province. (Anthony Bayarong)