MGB allows Benguet Corp. unit to resume operations in Zambales
Benguet Corp. on Wednesday said mine regulators have lifted an order suspending the operation of its unit, Benguetcorp Nickel Mines lnc. (BNMI).
BNMI on Wednesday received the order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s (MGB) regional office in Central Luzon.
The lifting of the suspension is “subject to continuing compliance with environmental conditions,” the parent firm said.
According to the MGB, the value of metallic minerals produced in the Philippines grew 7.2 percent year on year in the first quarter to reach P23.7 billion.
The MGB said in its report issued earlier this month that the growth was driven mainly by direct ore shipping operations which, together with nickel-cobalt sulfide production, accounted for two-fifths of first-quarter domestic output.
“The mine output of direct-shipping nickel ore is expected to improve further this year with the temporary lifting of the suspension order for the nickel mining operations of three Zambales mining contractors,” MGB director Leo L. Jasareno said.
He was referring to BNMI, LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. and Eramen Mineral Inc., all of which incurred production setbacks in 2014 following the suspension orders issued by the MGB due to environmental issues.
The three firms received in July 2014 respective suspension orders, which regulators issued in response to local residents’ complaints of nickel siltation of river systems, farmlands, fishponds and seashores in the area.
Last February, the MGB issued an order that temporarily lifted the suspension, subject to several conditions.
The conditions include the construction of an alternative mine haulage road, resolution of the alleged coastal destruction brought about by the mining operation, and full payment of the claims for compensation for damages of fishponds—which was pegged at a total of P3.2 million for all three mines.—Ronnel W. Domingo
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