Sibuyan Island residents put up barricade vs company's 'illegal' mining activities

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 29) — Sibuyan Island residents on Sunday put up a barricade to protest the alleged illegal mining activities of Altai Philippines Mining Company in San Fernando, Romblon.

According to local environmental groups, the mining company was not able to secure necessary mining permits and documents.

Elizabeth Ibañez, Coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining, said protesters want the mining company to show its barangay clearance, municipal business permit, Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) foreshore lease contract, and a Philippine Ports Authority permit to construct a private port.

“As far as we know, Altai Mining Company does not have these documents. What they are doing therefore is illegal. Their activities must immediately stop, especially that the residents of Sibuyan are opposed to any large-scale mining in the region,” she said.

The mining company claimed that the DENR allowed them to export 50,000 metric tons of nickel ore to be tested overseas.

But in a tweet, Filipino environmentalist Rodne Calicha alleged that the Mineral Ore Export Permit presented to the local government unit by the mining company was “tampered.”

He added that it does not show the estimated value of the ore they are selling to Transmine Far East Ltd. based in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, environmental defenders of Sibuyan Island trooped to the San Fernando Plaza on Sunday to express their opposition to the ongoing mining activities in the area.

Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera also called upon government authorities to heed the plight of Sibuyan Island residents.

“The demands of the Sibuyan residents should be prioritized over the interests of the mining company, more so that the latter is violating the regulations and laws on mining,” he said.

In June 2022, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Fernando, Cajidiocan and Magdiwang in Romblon signed a joint resolution “strongly opposing metallic large-scale mining in Sibuyan Island.”

They requested President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Congress to declare Sibuyan Island free from large-scale metallic mining.

CNN Philippines has reached out to DENR and local officials in San Fernando, Romblon regarding the matter.

Digital Producers Raheema Velasco, Jelo Ritzhie Mantaring, and Seth Cabanban contributed to this report.