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After tense week, mining firm says exploration activities on Sibuyan Island on hold

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After tense week, mining firm says exploration activities on Sibuyan Island on hold
Residents of Sibuyan Island put up a barricade to protest the mining exploration activities in the area.
Twitter / Rodne Galicha

MANILA, Philippines — Altai Philippines Mining Corp. said Monday that it is stopping its "exploration and testing activities" in Sibuyan Island, Romblon that prompted residents to put up a barricade to register their opposition to mining.

The announcement comes after the company's trucks, assisted by the Philippine National Police, broke through a line of people who wanted to block them from leaving with nickel ore. The mining company said over the weekend that it had a right to seek police assistance against the residents.

"We have decided to voluntarily halt all exploration and testing activities in Sibuyan Island and to continue our full cooperation and coordination with the relevant authorities to address any concerns or issues that have been raised," AMPC said in a statement.

AMPC stressed that maintaining peace and order and ensuring the concerns and welfare of the residents of the island are their priority.

It said that they will take the opportunity to "address all recent concerns brought up against our Sibuyan exploration."

"We look forward to working with all stakeholders to resolve any outstanding concerns," it continued.

READ: Sibuyan folk fear nickel mining will destroy 'Galapagos of Asia'

The residents asserted that mining has no place in a small island ecosystem as it may damage Sibuyan’s forests and river systems, and disrupt the lives of locals.

According to notices of violation posted by Alyansa Tigil Mina, APMC was found violating four laws, which include the country’s water code, the foreshore lease agreement and salvage zone construction activities, the construction of causeway without the proper Environmental Compliance Certificates, and the clearing of trees without a permit.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, earlier Monday, filed a resolution urging the upper chamber to conduct a legislative inquity into the mining activities in the island in the hopes that the government will conserve the island’s flora and fauna and protect its residents from ecological devastation.

"The Senate should hear all stakeholders and unravel the layers of issues that have plagued Sibuyan Island for decades. Large-scale mining is already damaging the environment, and it seems the mining company violated laws in the conduct of its business," the minority lawmaker added. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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