Big news that I totally missed for an entire week. Last Friday it was revealed that the closed door negotiations between the CNMI’s Marianas Public Lands Authority and Azmar International over mining rights on Pagan broke down.
Azmar cried foul and appealed to CNMI governor Juan Babauta to force the MPLA to issue a mining permit to Azmar, citing an earlier meeting in September where MPLA board members basically agreed to rubber stamp Azmar’s application.
Watchdog group Paganwatch hailed the decision by MPLA.
“We congratulate the MPLA board for recognizing the public’s wishes and their fiduciary responsibility to the Commonwealth. We welcome investors to the CNMI, but we also make sure that those we accept are real investors. Those are two different things,” said PaganWatch leader Cinta Kaipat.
It looks like the MPLA pulled an about face once they realized the depth of the opposition against this strip mine proposal. Not only were the displaced residents of the northern islands upset with the proposal, others in the CNMI questioned the fairness of the deal and the revenues Azmar’s mining project would generate for the government. The pozzolan is a valuable resource, and there is still interest in extracting it, and in crafting an agreement that remunerates the CNMI equitably and addresses the concerns of the residents of Pagan.