Lawmaker says DENR can't stop ore shipment of suspended mine
MANILA, Philippines – Surigao del Sur 1st District Representative Prospero Pichay Jr, who is also president of Claver Mineral Development Corporation, insisted that the firm can still ship ore even if its operations have been suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
As it is, Pichay said Claver's mining operations have already been suspended for years – even before Environment Secretary Gina Lopez took office and started an audit on all existing mines in the country.
"The suspension only states that the mining operation is suspended. It does not mean the entire operation of the corporation is suspended," he said during the DENR's budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Monday, September 5.
Claver, which runs a nickel mine in Surigao del Norte, is among the 10 mining firms whose operations have already been suspended following the DENR's audit.
Pichay was reacting to questions raised during the budget hearing about the mining company's activities. (READ: Duterte: 'Amend, suspend, revoke' environmental permits, if needed)
In a recent Inquirer report, environmental advocates have denounced the "special treatment" allegedly given to Claver, since it is allowed to transport ore despite the suspension.
On Monday, Pichay said about 3 boatloads of ore is already scheduled for shipment to China this year.
He said the shipment has nothing to do with the recently-concluded audit. (READ: DENR's Lopez vows suspension of more mines)
"And if [the operation] was suspended and during the time, there were arond 200,000 metric tons, it doesn't mean that we have to stop the shipment of 200,000 metric tons because that is no longer a mining operation, that is already sales," he added.
He also explained that the reason the firm has asked for an immediate shipment is because of the upcoming monsoon season.
"If we just allow [the stockpile] to stay there, it might even pollute the area because 200,000 metric tons is a lot of ore that might be washed out to the sea," Pichay added.
In a separate interview with reporters, he again reiterated that the DENR cannot stop the shipment.
"'Pag sinasabing i-stop ang shipment, ako naman ang challenge ko, subukan nila (If they say stop the shipment, my challenge is, I dare them to do so).... I have to protect my investments. There is no legal remedy for them to stop the shipment."
According to Claver's website, Pichay acquired 60% of the corporation in September 2015.
After Monday's budget hearing, Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno – the head of the audit team – said DENR will review Claver's documents to find out whether or not the firm can indeed ship ore despite the suspension. – Rappler.com