admin's picture

By Liberty Dones

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 22) – The Marianas Public Lands Authority said it is taking "due diligence" in reviewing proposed mining operations at Mt. Pagan in the Northern Islands, looking mainly at the financial capacity of applicants and the project's impact on the environment.

Following criticisms that MPLA has been sitting on a pending permit application, acting commissioner Frank E. Eliptico said that the agency cannot rush its decision on the project.

"We want to make sure we do our due diligence. At this time, MPLA is evaluating all proposals and we are looking at all available options," he said. "The big reason we want to be careful in entering into any activity is that we know that it will have a very significant impact on a very small island."

Eliptico said the MPLA will make sure that mining operations on the island would not compromise its environment.

"Mining is not necessarily anti-environment," he said "If it is done right and in a deliberate way, mining does not have to be inconsistent with environmental policies.’ Earlier, Saipan-based United Northern Marianas Islanders Association petitioned the MPLA not issue any permit to any company or even entertain an application "without the full involvement of the mayor of the Northern Islands."

It said MPLA needs to thoroughly explore all options and it must conduct an environmental impact study first.

Meantime, the MPLA said that it has received at least two mining proposals: Arizona-based Azmar International and Texas-based Consolidated American Energy Resources Inc.

The MPLA said it received Azmar's permit application last January-not three years ago as indicated in earlier reports-while it got CAER's only recently.

In a meeting this month, the MPLA board had questioned the financial capability of Azmar, noting that it has to show proof of its resources.

"We can't take it at face value. We need to see solid evidence of where the money is coming," said MPLA chair Ana Demapan-Castro.

Right now, MPLA said that Saipan-based J.G. Sablan remains the permit holder of the Mt. Pagan operation.

Authorities, however, including the Governor's Office and the Northern Islands' municipal office, had said that J.G Sablan's contract should have long been terminated as it has allegedly violated its contract terms.

The company received its permit to mine Mt. Pagan nearly a decade ago. It has reportedly not shown any proof of revenue and production since then.

Pagan is believed to have 200 million metric tons of pozzolan deposit, a cement additive.

April 22, 2004

Saipan Tribune:


Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment