THE ENVIRONMENT department has lifted the suspension of ATN Holdings, Inc.’s crushing plant operations in Rizal province, allowing the company to resume work, the listed firm told the local bourse on Wednesday.

ATN, which operated one of the country’s largest rock-extraction sites, said in a press release that it is ready to fully resume operations after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Calabarzon, reinstated the firm’s mineral processing permit.

The bureau’s regional director earlier temporarily halted certain quarrying and crushing plant operations along the Marikina River Basin in Rizal. ATN was one of the six firms whose mineral processing permits were suspended. MGB also suspended the mineral production sharing agreements of five firms.

Last month, the bureau said that the permits would remain suspended until the DENR composite team completed a joint assessment, and until the cause of flooding in Rizal province and Marikina City was identified.

On Wednesday, ATN shared the contents of MGB’s letter in its latest disclosure, saying that its mining operations was the not the cause of flooding in Marikina.

“In an official written correspondence, the MGB-Regional Office No. IV stated that quarrying operations in the Rizal Province was not the proximate cause of the flooding incident in Marikina City on November 12, 2020. In the same letter, and after due validation, ATN has been deemed compliant with all indicated recommended actions,” ATN said, citing MGB’s letter.

During the downtime, ATN said that it conducted equipment maintenance work, roadside clearing and site improvement activities. It added that it extended assistance to flood-stricken areas brought about by heavy rainfall from Typhoon Ulysses (international name Vamco).

“This timely move (of reinstating our mineral processing permit) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will allow us to move forward with our plans to support infra-related projects. At ATN, we share in the belief that the multiplier effect generated by a massive infrastructure push is key to rebuilding our economy,” ATN’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Arsenio T. Ng was quoted as saying in a statement.

In a regulatory filing on Dec. 15, ATN said that its crushing plant did not contribute to the pollution in Marikina River Basin because it used a “dry crushing process, where all the by-products were mixed back into the soil as a form of nourishment.” It added that its dry crushing process was meant to minimize the contamination of water.

In a Viber message to BusinessWorld on Wednesday, MGB Acting Director Wilfredo G. Moncano said that DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu gave clearance to the regional office to lift the suspension of compliant companies.

“As to the content of the Order lifting their suspension, I still have to see one, but the context of the Secretary’s order is to lift the suspension to those companies (that) are compliant to the laws, rules and regulations and (were) not a factor to the flooding and siltation of the low lying areas,” he said.

In a separate regulatory filing on Wednesday, MacroAsia Corp. announced that the DENR granted the firm a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) that covers 1.11 million hectares at Brooke’s Point in Palawan. In its disclosure, the company shared the letter that it received from the MGB Mimaropa office.

MacroAsia’s MPSA was suspended by MGB on April 4, 2019, until the “situation became favorable for the company to continue mining operations in the area.”

Shares in ATN on Wednesday improved 14.47% to close at P0.87 apiece. Meanwhile, MacroAsia shares inched up 0.36% to end at P5.55 each. — Angelica Y. Yang