MANILA, Philippines – Residents of a small island in the central Philippines hailed a government order that stopped one of the country’s largest mining firms from removing nickel ore stockpiles from their village. The removal of the ore was ruining local ecosystems, the residents said.
“We thought we’d see our island waste away first,” Rebecca Destajo, a village leader on Manicani Island off the coastal town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar province, told ucanews.com Aug. 18 after the government announced its decision.
Opposition to mining operations on the island had been ongoing since the Hinatuan Mining Corp., an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corp., acquired rights to mine in the village in 1987.
The firm stopped operations in 1994 because of falling nickel prices, but resumed in 2001. Operations again were suspended in 2002 following local opposition supported by the Diocese of Borongan.
In 2005, the company was granted a permit to remove its stockpiles but residents protested, resulting in clashes with police. Last month, a government audit found the mining company was taking too much soil and “disturbing the local ecology.”
“They are taking soil out and it goes to China. We are suspending the retrieval of stockpiles, to address the ecological balance,” Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez said Aug. 17.
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