Sibuyan Island residents form human barricade to stop mining trucks

Iya Gozum

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Sibuyan Island residents form human barricade to stop mining trucks

HUMAN BARRICADE. Residents block a truck containing nickel ore on Wednesday, February 1.

Alyansa Tigil Mina

(1st UPDATE) Residents say they will continue to ‘stand their ground’ to halt mining operations on Sibuyan Island

MANILA, Philippines – In the past week, residents of Sibuyan Island in Romblon have been forming a human barricade to block the entry of trucks with nickel ore.

Residents are demanding the suspension of the operations of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) in the area. Police have also been deployed in the area on Wednesday, February 1.

“The people will continue to stand their ground and prevent the trucks from passing through,” said Rodne Galicha, executive director of environmental group Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, who is in Sibuyan Island to join the protest.

“We will continue our barricade because the mining company has no permits and social license,” he added.

Galicha said around 200 residents joined the human barricade but police could not provide an official estimate as of posting time.

Sibuyan Island is home to Mt. Guiting-Guiting, one of the most famous climbs in the country known for its ridges and unique flora and fauna.


A public scoping for the mining project was held last January 19. This is required under the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System.

In APMC’s project description for the scoping, mining operations are expected to last for at least 25 years. The mining company is poised to construct access roads, settling ponds, haul roads, and a stockyard, among others, for the project.

The proposed nickel mining project covers 1,580.8010 hectares, and products from the mine are to be exported.

The government granted APMC a mineral production sharing agreement on December 23, 2009, giving assent for the company to conduct mining exploration activities. In 2011, the DENR canceled APMC’s permit based on a complaint by then-San Fernando, Romblon mayor Dindo Rios.

According to a CNN Philippines report, the company had claimed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) allowed them to export 50,000 metric tons of nickel ore for testing overseas.

Sibuyan residents are strongly opposing APMC’s operations which environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina described as “destructive to the island’s ecosystem.”

They are also demanding that the company show their barangay clearance, municipal business permit, foreshore lease contract from the DENR, and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) permit to construct a private port.

According to protesters, the company has so far failed to produce these documents.

“As far as we know, Altai Mining Company does not have these documents. What they are doing, therefore, is illegal,” said Elizabeth Ibañez, coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining.

“Their activities must immediately stop, especially that the residents of Sibuyan are opposed to any large-scale mining in the region,” she aded.

Rappler has reached out to the DENR for comment but has yet to receive a response as of posting.

‘Inviolable’ right to operate

In a statement on Saturday, February 4, APMC denied the allegations and asserted its lawful operations in Sibuyan, and stressed that it is “equally opposed to all forms of illegal, reckless, and irresponsible mining.”

“Our right to operate is as inviolable as the right to peaceful protest and assembly. For that reason, we repeatedly reached out to the protesters to establish dialogue, and hopefully find common ground. We hoped that we could assure them that our activities are lawful and compliant to government requirements, and fully aligned with global best practices. Unfortunately, these efforts did not bear fruit,” it added.

The company noted that prior to its operations, it consulted with authorities and engaged “the surrounding communities “to ensure that our operations will be safe, legitimate, and with minimal environmental effects.”

“We would like to assure the public that APMC will continue to strictly and uncompromisingly adhere to all laws pertinent to our activities, for the current exploration and future development, operation, and rehabilitation plans. We pray that those who may have grievances against this will observe the same,” it said. –

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.