GUALO RAI Saipan — John T. Sablan president and owner of JG Sablan Rock Quarry Inc. said his company would appeal the termination of a permit to quarry pozzolan deposits on Pagan Island.

The local quarrying company is seeking a court ruling against the government’s move to terminate its 10-year permit to extract pozzolan from Pagan Island. Sablan told the Journal “Presently the attorneys are looking into the termination letter.” He said “Definitely we will take it to the next step—to the court.” The government argues it has a “strong defense.”

The matter stemmed from an announcement made by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial during a press conference on May 3 stating that he was terminating the permit and was forming a Pagan Mining Task Force to be headed by Rep. Jacinta M. Kaipat a legislative representative of Saipan.

The special body is tasked with conducting a study about pozzolan deposits on Pagan and issuing a request for proposal for companies interested in extracting the deposits.

The governor set a 60-day initial timeframe for the task force to accomplish this with assistance from appropriate federal and local agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey.

John S. Del Rosario Jr. secretary of public lands in his May 3 letter to Sablan gave the company 60 days to request a hearing with his office on the alleged violations the government cited as grounds for the revocation of the permit.

Howard P. Willens the governor’s special legal counsel said in the press conference that the government has a “strong defense.” Sablan said his company was “ready to go with one million tons ordered ” and was even “supposed to meet with the governor” during the days before the announcement was made on the permit’s termination.

“We are very disappointed ” Sablan said. “I hope the governor reconsiders it and turns it around.” Bridgecreek International Corp. the California-based company that entered into a joint venture agreement with Sablan December 3 2005 questioned the permit’s termination saying in a public statement issued on May 5 and 8 that Bridgecreek was “disappointed dismayed and confused” over the move.

“What kind of a signal does this send to other potential investors? We are very much aware of the many challenges facing the new administration so we thought we were coming here with their blessing not with their animosity ” John G. Carlson chief executive officer of Bridgecreek said. He said

The government issued JG Sablan Rock Quarry Inc. a commercial mining permit on Sept. 8 1995 which was amended on Feb. 15 1996.

The May 3 notice cited the following as among grounds for the permit’s termination.

•           Alleged failure of JG Sablan Rock Quarry to generate any revenue for two consecutive years after the permit was granted.

•           Alleged failure of the company to provide the government with a detailed proposal indicating how it would go about its operations.

•           The company’s move to enter into a joint venture agreement with Bridgecreek  International Corp. before obtaining the government’s consent.

•           The company’s alleged move to mine pozzolan in areas of Pagan not covered by the permit.

•           The company’s alleged failure to pay royalties and other payments under an earlier permit issued in 1993 which now amounts to $345 914.

Del Rosario also said that by virtue of the details available in the joint venture the Northern Mariana Islands government would only get $350 000 if 100 million tons were produced at an average price of $35 a ton; while JG Sablan Rock Quarry would get $600 000; and Bridgecreek $1.2 million.

“With these figures in mind — –and these are their figures — no one should have any doubt about the commonwealth’s justification in terminating the 1995 permit to JG Sablan ” Del Rosario said. MBJ