MGB to oppose open pit mining ban in Zamboanga del Norte

Posted at 11/03/11 7:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said Thursday it plans to oppose a ban on open pit mining in Zamboanga del Norte when the ban becomes official next week.

The bureau may issue a pronouncement against the ban, director Leo Jasareno said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News. Jasareno said they may first seek the Justice Department's legal opinion on this.

"If you compare the ordinance to the Mining Act, it overstepped many provisions of the Mining Act and its implementing rules."

He said the ban appears to be contrary to national policy on at least two counts: it will ban open mining and it will require operators of open pit mines to close within a year.

The Zamboanga del Norte provincial government's ordinance against open pit mining was passed in August and will take effect on November 6.

The province is the second to ban open pit mining. South Cotabato did the same last year, stalling Switzerland-based Xstrata's $5-billion Tampakan copper-gold project.

TVI Resource Development Inc., a unit of Canada-based miner TVI Pacific Inc. and which operates the Canatuan copper mine in Zamboanga del Norte, had vowed to exhaust all legal means to nullify the mining ordinance. It said it is preparing to file a series of cases to protect its rights and seek damages if the ordinance is implemented.

Earlier, Philex Mining Corp., which is doing exploratory works at its copper-gold project in Sibutad, said it would seek a meeting with Zamboanga del Norte officials to discuss the ban.

The province's governor could not be reached for comment. - With Coco Alcuaz, ANC