Business

DENR reopens Benguet Corp’s nickel mine in Zambales, nearly 3 years after the late Gina Lopez shut it down

The Romualdezes can now resume Benguet Corp.’s (BC) nickel mining operations in Zambales after getting the green light from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

BC disclosed that its wholly-owned subsidiary, BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., has been informed that the DENR has lifted the cancellation order against its 25-year Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) issued by then Secretary Gina Lopez in February 2017, as well as mining suspension order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in June 2015.

The nickel mine paid P257 million in excise taxes and P595 million in royalty payments from 2010 to 2017.

The nickel mine was one of 23 mines ordered closed by Lopez, who led the DENR from July 2016 to May 2017, serious environmental violations. In BC’s case, its nickel mine was closed due mainly to siltation of rivers, destruction of a functional watershed and illegal tree-cutting. Lopez passed away in August 2019. Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez recently declared the government’ move to revive the mining industry to generate jobs and government revenues.

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