No mining operation yet: NAC

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY - Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) belied claims by some residents in Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar province that the company has resumed its mining operations in the island.

Ronald Asignacion, community relations officer of NAC mining property in Manicani, said what they are implementing at the moment is just part of the company's "care and maintenance program" and there is no full mining operation yet since it was dormant in 2001.

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Asignacion said for the past six months, NAC has employed more or less 622 residents for the desilting of its settling ponds.

The ponds have been filled to the brim by earth and mud over the years that the mine has stopped its operations.

"Ang ginagawa lang ng NAC sa ngayon ay ang pagtalima o paggawa ng obligasyon as prescribed by law and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in particular, to implement its Care and Maintenance Program at kasama diyan yung paglinis ng settling ponds," Asignacion said.

In the desilting operation, Asignacion, said more than a hundred of the island residents from the four barangays are employed per month, and instead of utilizing motorized vehicles to ferry the hauling of bagged sands from the settling ponds, the company has been utilizing the local carabaos.

Both the villagers working in these ponds and the carabaos used during the operation are paid a minimum wage of P238 a day, it was learned.

Asignacion added that before they can start full operations again, it is important that they first achieve "social acceptability" from the local residents, a number of whom have been vocal of their opposition to mining activities even before when the mining area was still under the Hinatuan Mining Corporation prior to its suspension.

"Legally, we can start full operation anytime we want. We have the necessary permit, however, we are more concerned of social acceptance by the residents of the island following the incidents that happened many years ago that led to the suspension of mining activities in the area," Asignacion said.

He did not, however, cited a particular timeframe when the company will start its full operation but said the "operations would start from scratch" including exploration of exact areas where to mine and implement their social development plan in areas identified as non-mineral sites.

NAC is asserting that there is a responsible way to mining that would ensure economic and environmental life to the area even after the mining activities would conclude its operations and NAC's attestation to this is the mining operations in Rio Tuba in Palawan, also under Nickel Asia, which has been operational close to 30 years now.

NAC is one of the largest nickel mining companies in the Philippines and owns the majority share of six mining operations throughout the country. The principle business of NAC involves selling nickel laterite ore to customers in Japan, China, Philippines and Australia. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)

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