Published May 13, 2017, 10:01 PM By Madelaine B. Miraflor
DMCI Mining Corporation, led by business mogul Isidro Consuji, is planning to do multiple shipments of nickel ore this month despite the existing order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) requiring suspended mining companies to have an additional trust fund of P2 million before they can remove their stockpiles.
DMCI Mining, whose two nickel subsidiaries were issued suspension and closure orders by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is a subsidiary of listed holding firm DMCI Holdings Inc., which also owns Semirara Mining and Power Corp.
Its two mines, Berong Nickel Corporation (BNC) in Palawan and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (BNC) in Zambales, both have pending appeals to reopen with the Office of the President.
DMCI Mining president Cesar F. Simbulan, Jr. said the company filed a request from the Office of the President seeking for an exemption to the DENR’s memorandum order requiring suspended companies to pay R2 million per hectare before they can ship their ore stockpiles.
Simbulan said in an interview with reporters that the company still have around 300,000 tons of ore stockpile to dispose from its Zambales mine operations, while there’s about 128,000 tons in Palawan.
At the minimum and average price of US$ 26 per ton, the company is poised to earn more than half a billion pesos.
Many are now arguing that the latest order of the DENR will cause added burden to miners.
For instance, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which is composed of the country’s biggest miners, said they will contest the said memorandum order for being redundant.
During the first quarter of the year, DMCI Mining workforce went down 80 percent because of the closure and suspension orders imposed on its operations.
From 1,220 personnel in May, 2016, its combined headcount went down to 240 as of March 31.
With the change in DENR leadership, both companies are hopeful that their appeals will be given prompt, fair action.
“While awaiting the resolution of the appeals, we have instructed BNC and ZDMC to prepare their respective work programs and to track down their displaced workers. Hopefully, they can be rehired soon,” said Simbulan.
Both companies are also continuing the reinforcement of their environmental management systems in line with their commitment to responsible mining.
BNC was awarded its ISO 14001 certification last March 16, after passing the stringent audits of TUV Rheinland Philippines last year. ZDMC is also expected to secure its ISO 14001 certification soon, as it is currently doing the certification procedures.
The ISO 14001 certification ensures that appropriate measures are in place so that mining operations leave minimal negative impacts on the environment.