Uncertainties put Global Ferronickel’s Palawan mine at risk

Published March 21, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The future of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.’s (FNI) nickel mine project in Brooke’s Point, Palawan remains uncertain amid growing opposition against it.

A statement showed that the Samahan ng Magsasaka Ayaw sa Pagmimina (SMAP) recently led a local action to protest the continued operation of Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC).

To recall, it’s been nearly four years since INC’s Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) was cancelled by former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez.

But, while the mine’s actual operations had stopped, the company has not yet abandoned the site since its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) with the Philippine government for this particular project has not yet expired.

In a text exchange, FNI President Dante Bravo said that the company’s MPSA for Ipilan nickel mine will be expiring in April 2025, but he is not necessarily hopeful about being able to operate it soon.

“It might take some time before we can start operations there,” Bravo said.

Prior to its ECC’s cancellation, INC was supposedly allowed to explore and mine in as much as 343.3 hectares of its mining area within the Ipilan minesite. The company was likewise expecting an annual production rate of about 1.538 million wet metric tons (WMT) from the project.

In an interview in 2018, Bravo said he was hoping that the project could start in 2018 but to no avail.

Right now, there is still strong opposition coming from the local government unit (LGU) of Brooke’s Point regarding the project.

The latest group to raise their concerns against INC’s operation is SMAP, who questioned the continued construction of inner roads and a small hydroelectric plant within the mining site.

SMAP’s action enabled them to converse with the management of the mining company and Brooke’s Point Mayor Jean Feliciano, a statement from Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) showed.

Such dialogue resulted in Feliciano declaring the mine permanently closed.
Right now, Bravo said the priority of FNI is its diversification into the steel business.