Chinese back at mine site, but work suspended

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03:32 AM May 2nd, 2012

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By: Juan Escandor Jr., May 2nd, 2012 03:32 AM

NAGA CITY—The 13 Chinese who had been arrested and freed on bail during a raid on a mining site in a Camarines Sur town have returned to the site but are not working as operations have been suspended by the firm that employed the aliens.

Silvino B. Lajom, manager of Bicol Chromite and Manganese Corp. (BCMC), also denied that his firm’s operations were illegal. The Chinese workers were arrested for using dynamites, which Lajom said his firm was allowed to use.

Lajom said BCMC did not violate the terms of its Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He also said the DENR had not ordered a stop to BCMC operations.

BCMC operations were thrust into the open after 13 Chinese workers with ties to the firm were arrested on April 20 in possession of 295 dynamite sticks, blasting caps, wire and clay sticks.

The Chinese, described by Lajom as technicians, were freed on a P2.6-million bail on April 23. Shen Zicheng, consul at the Chinese embassy, took custody of the arrested Chinese.

Lajom said the Chinese were still with BCMC and in their bunkhouses at the Himagtocon mine site. Mining operations, however, have been suspended on orders of Lagonoy Mayor Delfin Pilapil.

Lajom said the Chinese embassy consul came after receiving requests for help from the Chinese community.

He said BCMC holds an exploration permit issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on Nov. 9, 2011.

The permit, said Lajom, allows BCMC to use dynamites.

He said the cease-and-desist order against BCMC operations issued by a municipal task force was related to taxes, not environmental violations.

Lajom said BCMC tried to pay fees to Lagonoy and the provincial government of Camarines Sur but both refused to accept the payment.

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