Narra nickel cuts 469 mining employees


By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

A GLOOMY Christmas awaits 469 employees of the Narra Nickel Mining and Development Corporation (NNMDC) who lost their jobs following uninterrupted slides in nickel prices in the world market, absence of buyers and financial loses.

On October 13, separation notices were sent to the first batch of 290 contractual and job order status employees by the management of the NNMDC; followed by 179 more probationary and regular workers on November 16, a news release sent to media stations disclosed.

The NNMDC informed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that the employees who were retrenched received separation benefits: salary for the month of October, payment for unused sick and vacation leaves, 15-day compensation for every year of service in the company and 13th month pay.

In the press statement, Engr. Roland F. Rodriguez, chief operating officer of NNMDC, said they “sympathize” with the employees, especially because it happened with Christmas time just about a month away.

He implied that the NNMDC might also be suspending operations in their mining activities that would incur more expenses considering the crisis that world economies are experiencing.

The anti-mining activities that are being done by “militant NGOs” are also discouraging foreign investors to contemplate positioning more funds in mining in Palawan.

“Although the company is considering the return of employees with good records and performances when the prices of nickel go back to normal, foreign investors are adamant too, to put in additional capitals allegedly due to the non-stop anti-mining activities that militant non-government organizations (NGOs) are putting up against the mining industry,” the news release claimed.

From a US$50.00 per pound of laterite and garnerite nickel last year, the current price drastically dropped to US$3.80 last week, said Bimbo Fernandez, the NNMDC’s community relations officer.

“The company will focus on surviving the crisis, reviewing lessons, monitoring prices and planning ahead when the market stabilizes,” he said.

In related news, the multipartite monitoring team (MMT) for the NNMDC has been created on October 23 following an orientation-seminar held at Maydavian Resort in Barangay Caguisan, Narra.

The orientation-seminar was attended by representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region IV Environmental Management Board, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Mining Regulatory Board (MRB), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), local government unit officials of Narra municipality, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Narra, Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI), Calategas Irrigators Systems Association (CISA), barangay officials of Calatuigas and San Isidro and the management staff of the small scale mining company.

The MMT was created to monitor the activities of the NNMDC and to make sure that the environment within its areas of operations, as well as the residents in the direct impact area are safe from irresponsible mining.

Within the days of the activity, the attendees conducted an ocular inspection of the mitigating measures in the environment that the NNMDC has set up, such as its dams, beaver dams, siltation ponds and slope stabilization that are stated in the environmental clearance certificate (ECC) it was issued.

A strict inspection of the NNMDC’s laboratory, motorpool, mine site, stockyard and pier, including the examination of the sound, and quality of air and water, to make sure that pollution is avoided was also done. Additionally inspected too, are the community projects funded by the mining company: the fish pens provided for coastal fishermen, vegetable farms for the indigenous peoples, tilapia project and roads that were rehabilitated and improved.

Engineer Percival Ladub of the MGB-Region IV and the team leader of the MMT, said all members have roles to play to better give the practice of responsible mining an edge in the province.(ThePalawanTimes)

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