Bishop, clergy up in arms over mining in E. Samar

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MANILA, Aug. 27, 2015— The Catholic clergy in Eastern Samar have vowed to resist a government decision to allow a mining firm to ship its stockpile of nickle ore out of the province.

The clergy raised the issue to the government again amid concerns that there is no stopping the Hinatuan Mining Corp. from transporting ore stockpiles off Manicani Island in Guiuan town.

HMC is an affiliate of Nickle Asia.

Aquatic, soil erosion

In another letter to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), they said recent events “have rekindled our long-standing resolve that mining should be permanently stopped, including the loading of the existing stockpiles in the island.”

The manifesto, sent to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje on Aug. 18, was signed by Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez and the diocese’s more than 60 priests.

“We cannot remain deaf and blind and not denounce the excesses of mining while our people suffer the consequences not their own making,” they said.

The operation of HMC has been suspended since 2001 for reportedly causing aquatic and soil erosion.

It has since then sought a permit to haul and load around 1.1 million metric tons of ore stockpiles.

Church officials said the permit to transport goes against the suspension order which include the cessation of exploration, operation, extraction, and disposal.

Meanwhile, the Philippine-Misereor Partnerships Inc (PMPI) called on the DENR to postpone its decision on abandoned ore piles in Manicani island until important points have been clarified.

‘Mine waste’

The PMPI sent an inquiry to DENR and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Eastern Visayas (MGB-8) regarding the inventory, identity, and grade of the stockpiles.

This will be a big factor, it said, in deciding whether to allow Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) to transport the remaining nickel ore piles.

PMPI anti-mining campaigner Ed Garingan, in a letter sent on Aug. 24, 2015, explained that the quantity and quality of the stockpiles must be documented first.

He also requested for copies of relevant documents that will shed light on the matter.

MGB-8 has labeled the ore piles left in Manicani as “mine waste.”

“We would like to know what is the original plan or the protocol in managing or rehabilitating mine waste. The said stockpiles had been there in the island even before Typhoon Haiyan; there should have been plans about it,” said Garingan.

PMPI is a network of people’s organizations, faith-based groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany. (CBCP News)

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