Governor shuts down nickel mining in Oriental Mindoro

June 8, 2015 at 16:58

by Jerry J. Alcayde

June 5, 2015

Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro — Governor Alfonso V. Umali Jr., has issued a cease and desist order against all operations of a Norwegian mining company planning to extract nickel and cobalt in the central part of Mindoro.

In a letter addressed to company officials of Intex Resources Philippines, Inc., Umali ordered the mining firm and its affiliates to immediately stop their exploration and related activities in Oriental Mindoro, invoking a provincial ordinance imposing a 25-year mining moratorium in the province.

He said Oriental Mindoro, as a local government unit (LGU), has all the rights to impose restrictions on any mining company conducting large-scale mining activities in the province.

The governor cited Section 3 of Provincial Ordinance No. 001-2002 which states, among others, that “it shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to engage in land clearing, prospecting, explorations, drilling, excavations, mining, transport of mineral ores and such other activities in furtherance of or preparatory to all forms of mining operations for a period of 25 years.”

The Mindoro Nickel Project of the Oslo-based Intex Resources is largest mining asset in its global operations with a total investment of US$4.5 billion in capital and operating costs.

Records at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) indicated that the project has a 113-square kilometer concession area that extends to Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.

Last Monday, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan led by Vice-Governor Humerlito A. Dolor passed a resolution requesting DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to revoke the reinstated environmental compliance certificate of Intex citing several violations and disadvantages of the mining project to the province.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Oriental Mindoro unanimously approved a resolution requesting the resolution last Monday expressing the strong opposition of Mindoreños against large-scale mining particularly the multi-million Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources Philippines Inc., an Oslo-based mining company.

Oriental Mindoro Vice-Governor  Humerlito “Bonz” A. Dolor said the said resolution, is a reiteration of their previous resolution passed on January 28, 2002 declaring a 25-year moratorium on large-scale mining in Oriental Mindoro which is still in effect.

The ECC was suspended 2009 by virtue of DENR Special order No. 2009-921, but last March 4, the Office of the President thru Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa lifted the suspension of the ECC issued to Intex.

“The reinstatement of the ECC is a blatant disregard of the opposition of most numbers of local government units, the church and civil society groups, both in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro,” the resolution stated.

Under the present resolution which was authored by the vice-governor himself, the Mindoro Nickel Project is vehemently opposed since it is located in the upper portion of Barangay Villa Cerveza in Victoria, part of the central range of Mindoro which serves as a contiguous watershed to more than 15 river systems.

Vice-Gov. Dolor said the mining project is also incompatible with the sustainable development agenda of the provincial government  which is anchored on food security and eco-tourism.

Another matter of contention is the fact that the area covered by the project is within the ancestral domain of the Mangyan tribes. Dolor revealed that Intex reportedly failed to secure the consent of affected indigenous cultural communities.

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