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Nickel Asia bats for biodiversity conservation 

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Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) Environmental teams, with representatives from all of its subsidiaries, got together for the first time as a group in Surigao del Norte to map their corporate direction for 2023 and to dissect and absorb the new environmental law issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) early this year.

The Department Administrative Order (DAO 2022-04) issued last March mandates all mining companies to incorporate the principles and processes of biodiversity assessment and ecological protection right before the start of actual mining operation and not only during rehabilitation proceedings that continue up to end of mine life.

What is common understanding, is that biodiversity assessment and environmental safeguards happen only during progressive rehabilitation when intensive mining operations begin.

The new DAO ensures that all adequate measures for responsible mining towards biodiversity conservation and protection get focused as early as during planning.

Engr. Remedios Collado-Camo, NAC AVP for Industrial Safety/OIC, Environment Sector, notes that one very interesting provision in the DAO is the mandate to establish a ‘Reference Ecosystem’, which, according to the law, is “the original state of the ecosystem during pre-mining status that will serve as the guiding image or model for ecosystem restoration or rehabilitation”.

Engr. Camo explains that the ‘Reference Ecosystem’ is a small part of land duly preserved to represent how the area looked like before mining disturbance. This piece of land referred to as “Reference Ecosystem”will then become the guide and the pattern to follow on how to responsibly rehabilitate the land after mining as ordered by law.

“It is no longer about just to beautify mined-out areas after mining but to restore the land to its original form and the DAO will guide us on how to effectively do our job to achieve that state,” furthers Camo.

The new DAO will put emphasis on the protection and conservation of native and endemic species, maximizing its potentials, to efficiently bring back the forest, as close as possible, to its original form after mining.

Camo says the DAO will help streamline all that the Environmental Groups at NAC have been doing since the beginning and the processes will now be more effective and appreciated because DENR now has provided a detailed guide on biodiversity assessment, protection and sustainability.

Camo adds that she is committed to help navigate her entire team through this new DENR biodiversity assessment which, she says, is the backbone of all of NAC’s operations and the core of the mining company’s business processes and strategies. The mantra of responsible mining is bringing back what were disturbed to its original condition, or even better.

“As our President and CEO, Dennis Zamora, always says – it is not mining if it’s not responsible,” Camo relays.

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