Court orders mining firm to vacate area

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 August) –  The Regional Trial Court in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur has ordered the Shenzhou Mining Group Corporation (SMGC) to vacate the mining area at the boundaries of Carrascal, Surigao del Sur and Claver in Surigao del Norte.

The order, dated July 15, was issued Judge Rufo Naragas of the Regional Trial Court Branch 41 in Cantilan.

The Claver Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC), the company that filed the petition for preliminary mandatory injunction and/or temporary restraining order alleged that SMGC  continued with the extraction of ore for shipment abroad despite the suspension issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on July 18, 2012.

CMDC is the owner of the mining claim over 433 hectares covered by a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA).

Santos C. Barote, president of CMDC said their firm had a memorandum of agreement with SMGC wherein they ceded  to the former the exploration, utilization of nickel, chromite, and other mineral resources found inside the mining area, subject to payment of royalty.

CMDC accused the SMGC of alleged non-payment of royalty within the specified period and of allegedly blatantly violating environmental law It then sought to terminate the operating agreement with SMGC.

CMDC alleged that SMGC  continued its extraction of ore and shipped it abroad.

But SMGC corporate secretary Jacqueline Mel De Leon, told the court that their company has not conducted any mining operation.

“The corporation is conducting rehabilitation; that there’s no truth to the allegation of petitioner that the company conducted clandestine operation,” she said.

She added that their corporation is mindful of the suspension order, adding the shipment is actually part rehabilitation program as per directive from the MGB dated March 25, 2013.

She said the MGB directive stated that the corporation is allowed to ship out stockpiles consisting of 200,000 weight metric tons and removed from the area with export permits for the purpose,” she said.

In a three-page order, the court said SMGC violated the environmental laws, rules and regulation.

“Defendant’s defense that the shipment of ore is part of the rehabilitation program as per directive of MGB dated March 25, 2013 is not tenable. While the MGB directive allowed defendant to ship out 200,000 weight metric tons(WMT) of ore stockpile, there is no showing that is part of the alleged rehabilitation program. There is no proof of a rehabilitation program, as defendant’s witness failed to state the same in her judicial affidavit. But then, even granting for the sake of argument that the shipping out of 200,000 WMT of ore is  part of the rehabilitation program, the defendant is not allowed to extract ore in the guise of rehabilitation, as what is allowed by the directive is only to ship ore from the stockpile,” the court said.

The court also ordered  “stockholders, officers, employees or representative (of SMGC) to cease and desist from operation and likewise for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction directing the defendant and any of its stockholders officers, employees or representative to vacate from the mining area in order not to further commit illegal activities which would endanger the MPSA of the plaintiff.”

The court also ordered SMGC to post a bond in the amount of one  million pesos to answer for whatever damages it may incur.

During the course of the mining operation, MGB found SMGC violated provisions of the MPSA and allegedly violated environmental laws which caused extensive siltation in the coastal area in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

MGB found  that SMGC failed to adequately address the siltation incidents in the area.and that it that it aggravated the siltation through the construction of a settling pond in the sea. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)