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House probe sought on CamNorte ore transport

/ 08:55 PM June 25, 2013

The owner of the land being mined by a Malaysian firm in Camarines Norte is asking the House of Representatives to investigate the alleged illegal shipment of minerals outside the Philippines by the mining firm.

In a statement, Yinlu Bicol Mining Corp., which owns the land in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, that is being mined by Malaysian firm Investwell Corp., said the Malaysian firm has chartered two Chinese vessels to ship out ore from the Camarines Norte town without any permit to transport ore or even an environmental clearance certificate for its mining operations.

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Iron shipment

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One of the ships, said the statement issued by Yinlu legal counsel Jobbie Barte, is MV BK Champ, which arrived at the Larap Port in Jose Panganiban last June 17. It loaded 27 metric tons of iron ore extracted from the town, Barte said.

Romel Pestaño, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director in Bicol, said the MGB, a bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has investigated charges of mineral theft against Investwell filed by MGB Mimaropa Director Roland de Jesus in 2009.

Pestaño also said the MGB has looked into the investigation made by the DENR regional office in Bicol on the alleged use of illegal explosives by Investwell in a mining operation in Barangay Nakalaya in Jose Panganiban under small-scale mining permits that Investwell employees were able to secure.

Pestaño said the MGB has taken the proper measures against the company by prohibiting Investwell from performing any more mining operations in Jose Panganiban.

Revoke permit

Barte said Yinlu would seek a congressional investigation of the alleged illegal shipment of ore from Jose Panganiban to China by Investwell. The lawyer also said his firm would ask the DENR to revoke the mining permit given the Malaysian firm.

“Granting a mining permit to a conglomerate previously charged by the DENR with illegal mining and theft of minerals is clearly anomalous,” Barte said. “It is like giving your house keys to a thief,” he said.

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MGB officials said Investwell has not received a “notice to proceed” with its mining operations in Jose Panganiban and has no environment compliance certificate. Thus, Barte said, any extraction or transport of ore from the town would be illegal.

The Camarines Norte government, led by Gov. Edgardo Tallado, has not issued any ore transport permit to Investwell.

In its website, Investwell said it has exported “a great amount of mineral wealth” to China.

“We currently have three mining sites based in the region of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte,” the Investwell website said.

“Our sites are constantly at work to excavate and process a diverse range of minerals before they are sent away to our partners in the Republic of China,” it said.

Barte said the admission by Investwell in its website and DENR records will form a “very strong basis” for charges against the Malaysian firm to prosper. With a report by Shiena M. Barrameda, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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TAGS: Camarines Norte, CamNorte, environmental clearance certificate, House of Representatives, Investwell Corporation, Malaysian Firm, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Mining Firm, Yinlu Bicol Mining Corp.
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