BENGUET Corp. said the Supreme Court has lifted the Writ of Kalikasan it earlier issued to halt the operations of Zambales-based nickel mines, including its wholly-owned subsidiary, Benguetcorp Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), removing one of several hurdles the miner faces to rebound back to business.
In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, the listed miner said it has received the high court’s resolution order dated May 22, 2017, denying the petition for Writ of Kalikasan and application for Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO).
“Thus, the prohibitory injunctive provisional Writ of Kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court is lifted,” BNMI said.
The petition was filed by anti-mining groups against BNMI and other mining companies operating in Sta Cruz, Zambales last May 2016. In June of last year, the Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan directing the five nickel miners in the province to stop operations.
To cap that, BNMI, along with other nickel miners in Zambales, was suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in July 2016 through a joint suspension order prompted by persisting complaints against the alleged adverse environmental impacts of its operation.
The joint suspension order for both companies remains in place until they resolve the problems arising from tree-cutting and earthballing issues, the completion of an exclusive mine haul road, and the full rehabilitation of all mined-out and open areas.
BNMI earlier noted that the provincial order stopping all mining operations in the province — as issued by Zambales Governor Amor P. Deloso mid last year — has no jurisdiction over the operation of any mine as such decision should be under the purview of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The firm, one of the 22 mines ordered shut down as a result of the months-long nationwide environmental audit launched in July 2016, has filed its appeal to the Office of the President last February.
BNMI cited the DENR’s failure to identify specific environmental violations of the firm that could warrant cancellation of its mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) as an invalid legal argument.
The DENR said the suspended miners that were audited were found to have impaired watersheds near the vicinity of their respective mine sites. This led to the order closure of 22 mines and suspension of four others.