The suspension of DMCI Mining Corp’s nickel operations in Palawan and Zambales has led to the Philippines’ company cutting its workforce by 62% from 550 to 207. The figure does not include many seasonal workers it hired during production ramp up.

The Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR) suspended DMCI subsidiary Berong Nickel Corp in Palawan in June due to alleged environmental violations while in July it issued a suspension order to DMCI’s Zambales Diversified Metals Corp due to ‘social issues’.

“Our hands are tied. We have no choice but to let go of most of our workers,” DMCI Mining president Cesar Simbulan Jr said in a statement. “We are trying to retain as many people as possible by assigning them to our environmental rehabilitation sites. But mine rehabilitation is not as labour intensive as nickel production so we simply cannot absorb all of them.”

DMCI said that more than 1500 Berong Nickel employees and local residents, including 424 members of indigenous peoples groups, had submitted written appeals to President Rodrigo Duterte, seeking the reopening of the mine.

DMCI said it had submitted additional documents to DENR as part of their appeal for the lifting of the suspension. “At this point, we can only hope that they appreciate the merits and facts we presented. We firmly believe that our operations uphold the principles and practices of responsible mining,” Cesar Simbulan said.
DMCI Mining, the metal mining unit of DMCI Holdings, Inc engages in exploration and mining of nickel, chromite and iron laterite.