Editorial: Mining company needs to move on and refocus

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), through a resolution it passed during its recent meeting, asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to deny with finality the application of Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) to extend its expired mining lease on the ore-rich area in Barangay Maasin, Brooke’s Point.

The Council also urged the embattled mining company to pack up and leave, adopting the combative stance exhibited against them on various occasions by the town’s environmentalist mayor, Atty. Mary Jean Feliciano. Mayor Feliciano and the company have been at odds especially after the company brazenly cut huge tracts of forests inside its concession without securing the necessary local and national permits last year.

INC’s 25-year mining lease issued by the DENR has expired and it needs to secure a new mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) if it wants to continue its presence in Brooke’s Point and start actual mining operations there. The PCSD, however, had also earlier canceled the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance it previously granted the mining firm.

INC, a major player in the mining sector, has so far continued to defy local authorities and has sued Feliciano over the raid the town officials and local residents made against the company some time ago.

There is no better way to mess up if any mining company wants to wreck its own chances of doing serious business in Brooke’s Point. It failed to establish trust with its key local stakeholders including officials and community residents and has instead tried to play hardball with them.

The PCSD resolution is so far the clearest sign that the political tide has turned against Ipilan Nickel Corporation and signals a reversal of the previously permissive atmosphere it had enjoyed under previous local administrations.

INC has a long way to go before it can realize its corporate plans, from securing a fresh MPSA contract with the national government and getting approval from the different layers of provincial and municipal governments. It ought to acknowledge its missteps and try to re-establish trust with the locals instead of maintaining the hardline stance that it has taken so far.

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