Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC), a firm linked to the family of plastics king William Gatchalian, claimed to have the necessary permits to operate in Sibuyan Island despite being flagged by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for violation of environmental laws.
APMC president Hanniel Ngo showed Bilyonaryo copies of the local transport permit for minerals excavated from Sibuyan Island, dated December 28, 2022. It was issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the MIMAROPA region.
Ngo said the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) also allowed APMC on January 25 to temporarily use the causeway at San Fernando in Sibuyan Island, subject to certain conditions.
“The PPA granted us authority to use the causeway as long as we complied with the requirements, which include submission of cargo documents and clearances, and payment of taxes,” he told Bilyonaryo.
“We are not illegal miners,” Ngo stressed. “We have all the permits to conduct exploration activities. We’re also authorized to temporarily use the causeway.”
Residents of Sibuyan Island have strongly opposed APMC’s activities in the area, saying it would destroy the rich biodiversity of the land known as the “Galapagos of Asia.”
The DENR on Wednesday said notices of violation were issued to APMC by the Environmental Management Bureau in Mimaropa for allegedly violating the Philippine Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and for cutting trees without a permit.
The company’s application for miscellaneous lease agreement was also denied for supposedly violating the Public Land Act, the DENR added.
Ngo, however, maintained that APMC did not violate the forestry code. An inspection has yet to be conducted to verify the company’s supposed violation, he said.
Documents shared by Ngo to Bilyonaryo showed that it was Gatchalian’s son, Kenneth, who has shares in Altai.
The environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) had claimed that Kenneth is a “direct beneficiary” of Dynamo Atlantic Ltd. which acquired APMC’s partner, Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corp.
Ngo said APMC temporarily halted its exploration and testing activities in Sibuyan Island to address issues raised against the company.
“We pride ourselves as stalwarts of sustainable and responsible mining, so we take this as an opportunity to address all recent concerns brought up against our Sibuyan exploration,” he said.