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A Tribute to Masbate Gold Project's Scholars


“Testimonial and Recognition Ceremony - A Tribute to MGP Scholars who graduated in School Year 2018 - 2019”, MPJ Function Hall, Poblacion, Aroroy, Masbate | The Community Relations Department of Masbate Gold Project and some of the graduates this year, with Ms Marie Lanie Lanuzo - COMREL & SDMP Manager (Photo by Marcelle Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal)

There are many stories about scholarship programs sponsored by responsible mining companies. You may find these stories in company websites and brochures of mining companies. The stories may sound cliché or may have a mild impact on people who were never deprived of education. However, for someone who is financially struggling in life, finishing high school and college education through sponsorship of a mining company is a blessing and a gift of hope for a brighter future.


Despite the significant number of beneficiaries from mining companies, there are still some who are unaware on how large-scale mining companies are effectively helping the Philippines in nation-building initiatives. Several mining companies provide scholarship programs and livelihood projects to host communities.


Last May, Philippine Resources Journal was invited by Filminera Resources Corporation to come and visit the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) site in Aroroy, Masbate for a first-hand experience on how they take care of their host communities. One of the important events that MGP hosted and organised recently is the “Testimonial and Recognition Ceremony - A Tribute to MGP Scholars who graduated in School Year 2018 - 2019”. This was held last 22 May 2019 at the MPJ Function Hall, Poblacion, Aroroy, Masbate.


Masbate Gold Project is operated by Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) and Phil. Gold Processing & Refining Corp. (PGPRC). FRC is the holder of the mining tenements, surface rights and the Environmental Compliance Certificate. PGPRC is the owner and operator of the processing plant and is a subsidiary of B2Gold Corporation, a mining company that is based in Vancouver, Canada.


MGP is a USD250-million project which represents the single largest investment in the Province of Masbate. Aroroy has always been an old mining town even before MGP started.


There are archaeological discoveries in the area that show early gold mining and trading. For instance, there were Chinese jars from the 10th century that were found in Kalanay Village, Aroroy in 1930s. Kalanay Cave is one of the most important archaeological sites in Masbate province. Furthermore, in 1569, the Spaniards settlers here were trading gold and other commodities with China.


Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. operated the mine area in 1980 until 1994. Then, MGP started in September 2007. After its first year of operation, MGP became the largest operating gold project in the Philippines. This ranking still remains today. [1] In 2018, Masbate Gold Project produced an annual record of 216,498 oz of gold. [2]


The money invested by MGP helped the province recover from extreme poverty. In 2009, the Province of Masbate ranked as the 8th poorest province in the Philippines. By 2015, it later ranked as the 30th. [3] It was on that year when MGP produced its first one-millionth ounce of gold. Moreover, before MGP started their operation, the town was a 4th-class municipality, but today it is a 1st-class municipality.


Education comprises a fourth of MGP’s Social Development Management Program (SDMP).


MGP believes that giving opportunities for the less fortunate in their impact area to go to school is a legacy that will benefit generations. MGP has been providing scholarship grants to many high school and college students from its host communities. This started in 2009 during the first phase of their SDMP. Since its launch, there are now a total of 486 college scholars and 433 high school scholars who have graduated. This year alone, there are about 127 college graduates and 147 high school graduates as a product of MGP’s scholarship program.


During the “Testimonial and Recognition Ceremony” event, Philippine Resources Journal interviewed one successful scholar. She is Ms Gladys Hinate Bangalisan who graduated last 27 March 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Major in English. She finished her studies in Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology.


Ms Gladys Hinate Bangalisan is a scholar of MGP. She graduated last 27 March 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Major in English in Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology. (Photo by Marcelle Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal)

Gladys is a young mother and MGP helped her achieve her goal of finishing college. In 2011, Gladys was appointed as a barangay health worker. Through MGP's scholarship program, she was able to finish high school and by 2015, Gladys received a college scholarship grant from MGP and graduated last March.


"For me, being a scholar of MGP is such a big help. I came from a poor family and my parents cannot afford my education due to severe poverty. Because of our situation, I ended up getting married at an early age. I now have two children.”


"Despite the fact that I got married at a young age, I held on to my dream of becoming a professional teacher someday. Filminera offered me the opportunity to become a scholar. Because of this, I was able to continue my studies, and with God's grace, I was able to finish."


"For people who are against the mining industry, please think of us scholars as living proofs on how mining can bring a positive change in this country. MGP's scholarship program, for example, helps many poor people start a better life, and this is because of mining.


Education is the key to success. Just like what our new mayor said, 'Gold will fade in time, but education cannot be taken away from a person.'"


For more information about Masbate Gold Project, please visit: https://www.b2gold.com/projects/producing/masbate/

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Acknowledgement:

Ms Rosalie Taguba, Ms Noelle Nazareno, Ms Marie Lanie Lanuzo, Mr Rey Carlo Belgica and everyone from the Community Relations Department of Filminera Resources Corp, Masbate Gold Project

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References:

[1] The WorldFolio website. Retrieved from - http://www.theworldfolio.com/company/masbate-gold-project-mgp/33/

[2] B2Gold Website. Retrieved from - https://www.b2gold.com/media-gallery/producing/masbate-mine-phillippines/

[3] (14 Nov 2016). "Maayos na! Masbate strips 'poor province' image". Politiko Bicol. Retrieved from - http://bicol.politics.com.ph/2016/11/14/maayos-na-masbate-strips-poor-province-image/

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