DENR-MGB suspends 4 mining firms in Zambales

MANILA — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday said it has suspended operations of four mining companies due to complaints on environmental degradation.

Suspended were BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., and Eramen Minerals Inc.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said the four companies were accused of “environmental degradation, denudation of forests and lack of funds for progressive rehabilitation.”

“They need to get their act together,” said Lopez in a media interview.

“Business interest must operate within the principle of the common good. You can’t earn money by causing suffering, it’s not good, it’s not within the law,” she added.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno, however, clarified that the preventive suspension against BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI) and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC) was in view of the Writ of Kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court and the newly signed Executive Order by the local government unit of Zambales, suspending all mining operations in the province.

Earlier, Governor Amor Deloso issued Executive Order No. 1, which orders the immediate stoppage and moratorium on all mining operations in the province. It also orders the conduct of consultations with residents affected by mining operations before it would be allowed to resume.

Last month, the High Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan against BNMI, ZDMC, LnL Archipelago Mining Corp., Eramen Minerals Inc. and Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp. and ordered the Court of Appeals to conduct hearings to determine if a Temporary Environmental Protection Order should be issued.

Meanwhile, the suspension order covers all extraction of nickel ores and future expansions of mining areas. It will be implemented until such time that the nickel miners are able to employ a systematic mining method with defined benches and cleaning/removing of all stand-by stockpiles within the open cut areas.

The MGB also required the companies to have designated stockpile areas that are equipped with proper drainage system in line with the conditions of their environmental compliance certificates.

It also ordered the firms to employ proper care and maintenance measures for the duration of the suspension — including the continuous implementation of all environmental protection and enhancement programs. Lilybeth Ison/PNA/