DENR: Hinatuan nickel mine closure voluntary
The move to halt the mining operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp., a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp., (NAC) was “voluntary” and not due to any suspension order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Secretary Regina Lopez said.
“We wish to clarify that the DENR has not issued any order suspending the mining operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp in Manicani Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The Mines Bureau, however, sent a letter directing the company to explain within seven days the adverse observations made by a composite inspection team of the DENR,” Lopez said in a statement issued Friday.
She said Hinatuan agreed it would just complete the ongoing loading of 50,000 tons of stockpiles, which was already granted through a permit issued by the previous administration.
“Thereafter, Hinatuan has voluntarily committed to the DENR that it will suspend all loading activities in the island until such time that it has fully explained in writing the adverse observations of [Mines and Geosciences Bureau], and the completion of the audit being conducted by the DENR on the company’s mining concession,” Lopez said.
Last July 8, Lopez issued an order imposing a moratorium on new projects and an audit on existing mine sites.
“The audit shall cover all operating mines under suspended and/or care and maintenance status while the moratorium shall cover the acceptance, processing, and/or approval of mining applications and/or new mining projects for all metallic and nonmetallic minerals,” Lopez’s first memorandum order read.
The order was seen to dampen appetite for new investments and breed more confusion and uncertainty in the capital-intensive and risky mining business, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) earlier said.
As of end June this year, Nickel Asia Corp. saw a 31-percent decline in its sales of nickel ore shipments to an estimated P5.15 billion due mainly to the continuing weakness in the price of the commodity in the global market.
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