BOC remains in custody of shipload of PH nickel in Zambales

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THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) would maintain its custody of a shipload of Philippine nickel ores that it seized in Zambales after its owner, Yinglong Steel, admitted in a paid advertisement that it indeed, has no permit and environmental clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

It can be recalled that last January 16, 2023, Port of Manila district collector, Michael Angelo DC Vargas, issued a ‘warrant of seizure and detention’ (WSD) against the M/V Van Knight, loaded with 25,000 tons of locally mined nickel ore for transport to mainland China after the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), recalled the ‘mineral ore export permit’ (MOEP) issued earlier to the Chinese firm, ‘Yinglong Steel’ (see also Pinoy Exposé, January 16 2023).

The MGB cited among others, Yinglong’s failure to secure an ECC (environmental clearance certificate) from the department, which is mandated under PD 1586 and the alleged complaints from local residents on the destruction to their environment being caused by the company’s mining activities.

Yinglong is locked in ownership dispute with ‘Westchinamin Corporation’ with the latter asking the DENR since last year to revoke the mining right in Zambales covering more than 200,000 hectares it transferred to the former. Yinglong Steel allegedly failed to fully pay their agreed amount of $20 million.

In compliance to the DENR ruling, the BOC, thru the POM, promptly ordered the entire shipment, valued at around P137 million, to be seized.

But instead of disproving the government, Yinglong, in a full-page advertisement in two national broadsheets last January 23, 2023, publicly admitted that it has, indeed, not yet been granted an ECC “for reasons only known to the EMB,” referring to the Environmental Management Bureau, the office responsible for the processing of all ECCs.

Since last year, the DENR has also ordered Yinglong Steel to immediately stop all its mining activities in the province but to no avail, however.

At the current laterite nickel ore price from the Philippines of about $100 per ton bound for China (freight included), the value of the seized ores has been estimated at $2.5 million or roughly P137 million.

Vargas also instructed that the POM’s Auction and Cargo Disposal Division (ACDD) to immediately conduct an inventory of the vessel and its cargo which is presently docked near the DMCI Wharf, Bolitoc-Longis, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

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