A coalition of environmentalist groups called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources this week to immediately order a mining company to stop its operations in Sibuyan Island in Romblon province.
“We demand that the DENR immediately order a stop to these operations until this issue is resolved,” read a statement by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
The coalition also called for an investigation into the reported issuance of permits Altai Philippines Mining Corporation by the Mining and Geosciences Bureau.
“The mining ore export permit granted to Altai Mining is a clear affront to the communities on Sibuyan who have been resisting mining on our island for decades,” said Joshua Miranda of Kalikasan PNE.
Kalikasan PNE questioned why a permit had been reportedly granted to the mining company, which is still in the exploration stage of its operations.
Under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, mineral ore export permits are only granted for the export of small amounts of minerals during the exploration stage for testing.
However, Altai Mining was reportedly permitted to ship 50,000 metric tons of nickel ore from Sibuyan, “an alarming amount of ore” according to the group.
Communities in Sibuyan launched a barricade over the weekend to prevent the company from shipping out the nickel ore.
The residents started the barricade on January 28, using tricycles and motorcycles to prevent company trucks from transporting nickel ore.
The Sangguniang Bayan of San Fernando, Cajidiocan and Magdiwang in Romblon have issued a joint resolution in June 2022 “strongly opposing metallic large-scale mining in Sibuyan Island.”
They requested President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Philippine Congress to declare Sibuyan island free from large-scale metallic mining.
They also called on Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to immediately “review, halt, revoke and reject all mining agreements, operation, and applications within the territorial jurisdiction.”
Sibuyan Island has been said to be one of the most unspoiled ecosystems in the Philippines and the world.
In a statement, Kalikasan PNE stressed the importance of repealing the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, asserting that the law as a whole “does not ensure that the people’s needs and demands are prioritized” in the context of mining.
“The law is already problematic to begin with, and yet companies are still finding ways to break the law,” said Miranda.
“It is critical that we replace the current Mining Act with a legal framework that places people and planet above the profit of a few,” he added.
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