• Mining firm asks court to stop DENR order

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    SANTA CRUZ, Zambales: BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI) filed a case against regional officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to stop the suspension of its nickel mining operations here.

    “Seeing that BNMI is left with no other viable administrative remedy, it is constrained to elevate to the courts the matter of the unlawful suspension of its nickel mining operations,” it said in a statement.

    On July 8, the DENR ordered the suspension of BNMI and Zambales Diversified Metals Inc. (ZDMC), another mining firm in Zambales, and eight others for “various complaints of environmental degradation.”

    The order was signed by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 3 Director Lope Cariño, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Lormelyn Claudio and DENR Region 3 Director Francisco Milla Jr.

    The DENR said the suspension will ensure that the environment, particularly the communities, farmlands and water bodies are not compromised as a result of the mining operations pursuant to pertinent mining and environmental laws.

    Anna Vicedo Montes, BNMI AVP-Corporate Communications and Special Projects, said the firm filed a petition for certiorari with injunction to assail the suspension order jointly issued by the MGB-EMB and DENR regional offices.

    Montes said the suspension order was issued “with grave abuse of discretion, in an arbitrary manner, without due process and ahead of the conduct of a nationwide mining audit.”

    BNMI had proposed an arrangement with the government to ensure the environment in Santa Cruz would not only be protected but even be improved through a partnership among the mining corporations, the people and the government.

    The mining firm said the suspension of operations has forced the company to lay off more than 1,000 workers.

    Patrick Roxas

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