MANILA (Reuters) - Canada’s TVI Pacific Inc said its Philippine affiliate, TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc, has won a court injunction reversing a local ban on open-pit mining in a southern province hosting its $60 million copper and zinc mine.
The injunction will allow TVI Resource to continue its Canatuan mining operations in Zamboanga del Norte, while waiting for the final court ruling on the legality of the ordinance.
The ordinance imposed late last year would have forced TVI Resource to close its mine by November 2012.
TVI Pacific, in a statement posted on its website on Thursday, quoted a portion of the court order as saying “TVI is entitled to an injunction because it would suffer grave and irreparable damage and injury if the ordinance would be implemented.”
“This is excellent news for all TVI stakeholders,” TVI Pacific president and chief executive officer Cliff James said. “We strongly believe the powers to be assumed by the province under the ordinance and by the provincial governor of Zamboanga del Norte are unconstitutional.”
He said TVI expects a lengthy process involving court hearings on the legality of the ordinance, but “will continue to relentlessly pursue ultimate relief from what we view as an unconstitutional local legislation.”
Zamboanga del Norte Governor Rolando Yebes declined to comment about the court order.
“My lawyers have informed me about it but I won’t issue any statement until I’ve seen the court order,” he told Reuters.
Edgar Baguio, a provincial legislator who co-authored the ordinance, told Reuters in November the provincial board had unanimously approved the ordinance “to protect and conserve the integrity of the land and water resources of Zamboanga del Norte.”
TVI Resource, which has two off-take agreements with MRI Trading AG for its copper concentrate and zinc concentrate output, estimated it would have foregone revenues of $500 million if it was forced to close the Canatuan mine by November 2012.
TVI Resource believed it could extend the mine life by four to five years more from this year.
The ordinance could also hamper the plan of Philex Mining Corp, the Philippines’ top gold and copper miner owned by Hong Kong-listed conglomerate First Pacific Co Ltd, to revive a gold and copper exploration project that has been suspended since the 1990s in Sibutad town.
A similar ban in South Cotabato, also in the southern Philippines, has put at risk the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project of global miner Xstrata Plc and Indophil Resources NL.
The bans pose a threat to a mining industry that believes more money would flow into developing the country’s estimated $1 trillion in mineral resources if the government fixes policy problems.
Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Matt Driskill