14 Jul 2013
- By Emmanuel T. Erediano - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
THE Department of Public Lands has yet to decide on the permit of JG Sablan Rock Quarry Inc. to mine pozzolan on Pagan.
In an interview after the confirmation of his appointment on Friday, DPL Secretary Pedro A. Tenorio said he met with JG Sablan Rock Quarry owner, John T. Sablan last week to discuss the permit that was terminated in May 2006. The Supreme Court upheld the termination in March, 2012.
Sablan attended the Senate session to witness the confirmation of Tenorio’s appointment.
The Senate also adopted Senate President Ralph DLG Torres’ Senate Resolution 18-14 urging Tenorio and Gov. Eloy S. Inos to reinstate JG Sablan’s mining permit.
But Tenorio said: “nothing has been decided. We are looking at things carefully and making sure that what the resolution is saying and requesting is something that is consistent with the governor’s overall policy.”
“We have to talk about whether or not this thing is something that [we] need to do and there are many questions to be answered before any kind of decision [is made] to do something about the permit,” he added.
He said his department is still getting “more updated information” from the quarry company. Also, he is still looking at the “chronology” of events involving the Pagan mining permit.
Tenorio said he understands that the issuance of a mining permit for Pagan would have allowed the commonwealth to see whether pozzolan on the volcanic island is actually exploitable and sufficient to generate major income for the CNMI. That, he said, has never been proven because the permit was terminated.
In a separate interview, Sablan said he acknowledges that he still has to submit some documents before DPL can make a decision on his mining permit.
“I just have to sit down with them first. But I am optimistic about it,” Sablan said.
Asked why he is so eager to continue his plan to mine pozzolan on Pagan, Sablan said: “Because of the present economic issues.”
“I have been working on this for a long time. I am confident about that pozzolan project on Pagan. I know we can make it,” he said, adding that the governor and also the new DPL secretary are supportive of the Pagan project.
But he said: “I know I have a lot of things to do before DPL can make a final decision.”
Last week, Inos went to Pagan.
Tenorio said he also wanted to go but he did not get the chance because there was not enough room for him on the boat.
He said he asked the governor to have somebody take photos on Pagan, and “I plan to sit down with him and go over them.”
“I have not been to Pagan for more than 20 years. But one of these days I will go up there and see for myself if the resources out there will really make a difference in our revenue generation,” Tenorio said.
S.R. 18-14 stated that regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, the majority of the residents of the Northern Islands as well as the current and the previous mayors support the idea of commercial mining on Pagan.
“The CNMI must encourage prospective investors to venture into new industries such as the pozzolan mining and extraction industry on Pagan to generate additional revenue for the government before the competing military interest intervenes with the CNMI plan to tap the pozzolan resources. Insufficient government resources will continue to jeopardize the retirement, education, health, and public safety services of the people and the effective delivery of other pertinent and vital public services,” the resolution said.