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DENR urged to revoke Sibuyan Island mining firm MPSA

An environmental activist group has called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to revoke the mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) awarded to Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) amid its alleged violations during its mining operations in Romblon’s Sibuyan Island.

According to Maki Pulido’s report on “24 Oras” on Monday, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) staged a protest in front of the DENR office in Quezon City to rally for the cancellation of the firm’s MPSA. The group expressed concern that the APMC may still continue to operate if the agreement will not be canceled.

“Hindi pa rin effectively na stop ‘yung operations ng Altai. Posibleng magtuloy pa rin sila kung mag secure sila ng permit,” Jon Bonifacio, Kalikasan PNE national coordinator, said.

(Effectively, the operations of Altai are still not stopped. It may still continue if they secure permits.)

Over the weekend, the DENR ordered a temporary halt to the mining company’s operations due to several violations including the alleged infraction of the Water Code of the Philippines.

The DENR-Mimaropa Environment Bureau also said in a notice of violation the APMC had built a causeway without securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate, had cut down trees without a permit, and did not have a foreshore lease agreement for constructing a pier — an allegation supported by the Philippine Ports Authority.

For its part, the APMC said it will voluntarily stop its exploration and testing activities in Sibuyan Island and would continue to coordinate with agencies to discuss the issue.

Residents of Sibuyan Island have been fighting against the mining activities in their municipality for decades.

Former DENR Secretary Lito Atienza awarded the MPSA to APC in 2009, giving the company the exclusive rights to mine nickel, cobalt, iron, and chromite in the over 1,500-hectare island for 25 years.

In 2011, the DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a cease and desist order on APC after it received complaints the inland waters in Sibuyan are being affected by the mining firm’s operations.

DENR-MGB Regional Director Wilfredo Moncado signed an ore export and transport permit for the APC in December 2022, allowing them to supply 50,000 metric tons of nickel to Hong Kong.

GMA News reached out to the DENR office for their response but has yet to respond. Moncado meanwhile declined to comment, saying he is not authorized to issue a statement. - Sundy Mae Locus/ VAL, GMA Integrated News