Continued illegal mining in Camarines Norte assailed

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The owner of parcels of land in Camarines Norte being mined by a Malaysian firm decried the mining firm’s continued large-scale mining despite the absence of a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In a statement, Yinlu Bicol Mining Corp. said Malaysian firm Investwell was shipping 28,000 metric tons of iron ore to China from land that Yinlu owns in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, without a permit to conduct large scale mining operations.

A court in Manila had issued a temporary restraining order against the shipment.

The Malaysian firm, on June 17, applied for a permit from the Bureau of Customs in Legazpi City in Albay to ship iron ore to China. In its statement, Yinlu said this was proof that Investwell continues to conduct large-scale mining operations in Jose Panganiban despite the absence of a permit.

The DENR and its Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s (MGB) regional office had filed charges of illegal mining against Investwell in June.

According to Yinlu, during hearings at the Regional Trial Court of Manila on July 12, the head of an inspection team of the MGB, Antonio Marasigan, testified that Investwell had been extracting minerals from Yinlu land as early as the first quarter of this year.

This, despite the issuance of an order approving Investwell’s mining feasibility study and setting conditions for its mining operations in Jose Panganiban only on June 13.

In his testimony, according to court records cited by Yinlu, Marasigan confirmed that Investwell was shipping to China processed iron sand or concentrates instead of iron ore in bulk, which could constitute technical smuggling.

Marasigan also admitted during his testimony that Investwell had yet to complete the documents required for a permit to extract minerals.

Citing court records, Yinlu quoted a shipping manager of Investwell as testifying that the Malaysian firm has shipped mineral ore to China at least 10 times already. This means that the Malaysian firm had been shipping ore to China even before the mineral production sharing agreement that it applied for had been approved by the DENR and MGB, said Yinlu.

Documents presented in court, issued by the Philippine Ports Authority office in Pasacao, Camarines Sur, showed that Investwell started shipping ore to China as early as 2010 and has shipped up to 80,000 metric tons of iron ore already.

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