THE MINES and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has clarified that the nickel mining project in Davao Oriental is not an open-pit mine and confirmed a local government’s earlier statement that its location is outside the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, a declared protected area and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Please be informed that the Austral-Asia Link Mining Corporation and Hallmark Mining Corporation (ALMC/HMC)… are nickel mines with valid and existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreements… and employ strip or contour mining method only,” the bureau’s Davao regional office said in a statement.
It also said that the companies have “already waived a portion of their mining claims to be part of the protected wildlife sanctuary.”
HMC says on its website that it “relinquished 7,200 hectares to adequately expand the Hamiguitan World Heritage Site.”
The delineation of the buffer zone boundaries was undertaken in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, according to the mines bureau.
“This office acknowledges the concerns raised by various environmental groups and advocates,” it said. “Rest assured that you are heard and that the DENR is likewise putting its best foot forward to keep our environment and natural resources sustainably managed.”
The local government of Mati City, Davao Oriental’s capital and host of the project, earlier allayed public concern over the project following photos posted on social media about the mining site’s location.
Advocacy group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) Inc. said the mining project’s close proximity to Mt. Hamiguitan as well as the Pujada Bay Seascape, also a protected area, poses a serious environmental threat.
“Regardless of the claim that it is outside the protected area delineation, we strongly uphold and fight for the ecological rights and integrities of these watersheds from ridge to reef,” IDIS said. — Maya M. Padillo