GUIUAN, Eastern Samar—A unit of Nickel Asia Corp. asked the government to lift the suspension of ore transport permit imposed on Hinatuan mine in Manicani Island.
Hinatuan Mining Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nickel Asia, operates the nickel mine in Manicani. The government suspended the ore transport permit of the mining company early this year, saying there was an “excessive soil extraction” in the area.
“In the assessment, they are taking too much soil. They are taking the soil out and it goes to China,” said Environment Secretary Regina Lopez.
Lopez said the company should use the remaining stockpile to rehabilitate the mined-out areas.
“They have to use it for restoration. Put it back in the hole,” Lopez said.
Hinatuan Mining communication relations manager Francis Malone, however, said using the ore stockpile in restoration was not possible. “Who will return it? Where will they return it? Those stockpiles are meant to be disposed. We can’t put it back. At the first place, it was them who recommended us to do such activity,” Malones said.
The government suspended the mining operations of Hinatuan in the early 1990s. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau in 2014 ordered the company to dispose of its remaining ore stockpile.
“They have not given us any opportunity to talk to them. The evaluation is unfair,” Malones said.
Hinatuan Mine project manager Manolito Javar said the government’s accusations were baseless.
Javar said that of the 1.4 million metric tons of ore stockpile, the company was only able to ship more than 265,000 MT of ore to China.
Residents of Manicani also asked the government to lift the suspension order, as a lot of people were affected by the suspension. Imelda Raganas, a community leader, said the government should allow the removal of stockpile to continue because it was the source of income for the residents.
“We don’t have another source for livelihood. There are too many fishermen in our area. We are appealing to the government to allow the transport of ore,” Raganas said.
Data provided by the company showed a total of 495 residents would lose their jobs due to the suspension order.
Meanwhile, Nickel Asia vice president for corporate communication Jose Bayani Baylon said the company was currently waiting for the mine audit. “We are awaiting for the DENR to schedule the audit of the HMC stockpile removal operations on Manicani ASAP, so that the loading can resume leading to the removal of an environmental hazard and the generation of much needed income for the residents,” Baylon said.