By PATRICK ROXAS
SANTA CRUZ, Zambales — Anti-mining group Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz (CCOS) on Wednesday expressed alarm over a report that a ship docked at the port in this town is being loaded with nickel ore.
CCOS Chairman Benito Molino said their group has monitored the loading that was taking place at the port owned by Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp., one of the mining operators who were subject of a Writ of Kalikasan order by the Supreme Court (SC).
Molino said they have reported the matter to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
He added that Shangfil was conducting the loading through a Mineral Ore Export Permit (MOEP) issued by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 3 Director Lope Cariño last year.
He said the MGB3 director has confirmed this to him and added the MOEP was issued after the SC issued the Writ of Kalikasan.
Molino said Cariño has told him Shangfil is not included in the order of DENR Secretary Regina Lopez closing 23 mining operations in the country, including four operating in Zambales.
Molino claimed there is no order from the DENR on hauling operations and no Ore Transport Permit (OTP) issued to Shangfil.
He said the matter of compensation for affected residents because of destructive mining is now with the DENR and the SC.
Meanwhile, residents of Candelaria town reported to Headline Zambales that mining operators continue hauling nickel ore in that municipality despite the Supreme Court’s Writ of Kalikasan and a moratorium on mining issued last July by Gov. Amor Deloso.
“Dump trucks still come and go, bringing down nickel from the mountains. Who says mining has stopped?” said one irate Candelarian.
Residents said the hauling of nickel ore is being done surreptitiously from the Duplac mine site to the pier at Barangay Binabalian.
They added that the operators have told them that they are just bringing down the ore from the stockpile in the mountain.
Deloso on his inauguration as governor on June 30 signed his first Executive Order suspending all mining operations in the province, vowing to stop the environmental destruction resulting from said operations.
“Effective immediately all mining operations in the province, particularly in Santa Cruz, Candelaria and Masinloc towns, must stop,” Deloso ordered then.
The governor pointed out that mining operations in Zambales have continued for decades and now that the environment has suffered so much. “Today I will put an end to that,” he vowed.
Before Deloso’s moratorium, the Supreme Court also issued a Writ of Kalikasan against five mining Mcompanies operating in Zambales after finding merit in a petition filed by local residents who sought respite from the destructive effects of “unsystematic mining” in the province.
The June 21 resolution of the High Court referred the complaint to the Court of Appeals, which will hear the pleadings of parties involved, and also ordered the miners to submit to their verified return to prove that they are not harming the environment.
The order was directed to Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Incorporated (BNMI), Eramen Minerals Incorporated (EMI), LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated (LAMI), Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (ZDMC), and Shangfil Mining and Trading Corporation (SMTC).
PHOTO: Dump trucks continue to haul nickel ore from the Duplac mine site in Candelaria, Zambales in this photo taken on Saturday, Feb. 4, by a concerned citizen.