Lepanto Mines afloat amid DENR’s suspension

BAGUIO CITY – Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company remains afloat and is braving back at the environment department’s suspension order, which it denounced as “without legal ground and basis”.

Bryan Yap, president of the LCMC, speaking during the signing of the 27th Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the mine firm and officials of the Lepanto Local Employees Union Saturday morning (March 25) at the Baguio Country Club assured its workers that all legal steps necessary to keep the mine firm uninterrupted are being taken.

LCMC, Yap said, has appealed before the Office of the President, citing that the DENR chief “has no authority to issue the suspension order and even granting she has, “the order was issued without factual or legal basis. Further, LCMC appealed to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, he said, that the “issuance of the suspension order violated LCMC’s right to due process”.

The mine firm, which has been operating for more than 75 years now maintained that there were two conflicting audit team reports, the earlier report citing the firm was “compliant to all legal and technical standards and contributed significantly to the local economy”, and the latter report recommending a show cause order be given to them for certain minor violations.

Yap said, “I was surprised with the sudden change of the Audit Team’s sudden change of recommendation.”

Despite repeated invitations for Sec. Lopez to visit Lepanto to see the situation herself, Yap said, “Sec. Lopez never visited or flew over Lepanto.” This, “while the environment chief claimed he had flown over the mining sites of affected companies, talked to the peole and came up with her decision to suspend or close the mining firms,” the LCMC president bantered.

Vowing determination to weather this, while admitting that the mining industry has worsened and “the last eight months have been most difficult”, Yap encouraged its workers to be “ambassadors of mining”. Mining is good when done responsibly and that is what we all do, he said. “I urge you to learn and understand what Lepanto does and how we operate.”

He also encouraged workers to make it as their responsibility to go outside their departments and know how they could help their community and the environment. “If you are in the mining or milling department, visit our hospital and get a briefing from our medical staff as to what facilities are available to our employees and community,” he continued. If you are in the social development department, visit the underground mines for you to understand our mining method and see for yourself that we rehabilitate as we mine, using the cut-and-fill method, Yap further stressed.

“Or take time to visit our elementary schools and high school and talk to the teachers to understand the importance we put on education. As members of the mining community, it is all our responsibility to know everything that out company does so we can intelligently defend it.”

New opportunities
Yap bared that LCMC is now embarking on an aggressive mining program for the re-opening of its Enargite copper mine and Quartz Pyrite Gold mine (called the Copper-Gold Project). The drilling of the ore body started in October 2015 and now have blocked out an indicated and inferred resource of over 6 million tonnes having grades in excess of 1% copper and 2 grams per tonne gold. “Our mine engineering group is busy finalizing a realistic mining program which should give us a decent profit starting next year,” Yap disclosed.

Amidst these bright prospects, LCMC called on its workers for continued healthy relationship and mutual trust. “You are the company’s backbone and we commit to do our pat so as not to lose your trust,” Yap enthusiastically said, while getting the state-run National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB)’s vouch via NCMB-Cordillera representative Maggie Balag-ey that the recent 27th CBA arrived at with just four meetings, “is an example of a good industrial relationship.”

Union president Warden Lapaddig admitted that even if they found out that LCMC is not at all very financially healthy and not capable with their demands, “we agreed with the ceiling as we continue to pray that the company survives.”

Yap said “we should concentrate on the more difficult task ahead – improving our efficiencies and increasing productivity.” ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon