Ecologist Claims Agricultural Production, Water Worth More Than Nickel From Xstrata’s Dominican Mine

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The estimated agricultural production and water resources in the area around mining giant Xstrata Nickel’s Loma Miranda project are worth more than the nickel that will be extracted, according to a report released last week by Dominican environmental information clearinghouse Accion Verde.

The report, prepared by engineer and ecologist Felix Diaz, said the value of the rice, vegetables, drinking water and hydropower produced in La Vega valley region, where the mine is located, “guarantee more resources to the country than the exploitation of ferronickel at Loma Miranda.”

Diaz’s “Analysis of Economic Influence of the Loma Miranda Project” put the total value of non-extractive activities and resources in the area at $116 million USD per year.

It said the area provides water for irrigation and human consumption for a total of 301,502 people. These water services are valued at over $900,000 USD per year

Executives from Xstrata Nickel’s Falcondo mining operation saythe country stands to make at least $5.4 billion in the next 25 years from the Loma Miranda mine.

The company has called many of the concerns raised about the mine “myths.”

“Notions of ravaged crops, forests and species are a myth,” the company said.

Darren Bowden, president of Xstrata Nickel Falcondo, said earlier this month that environmental impact studies had shown that nickel exploitation is feasible in the region. He noted that the Dominican government currently receives 55 percent of earnings from the mine.

Most of the lands at Loma Miranda have already been reforested, and any environmental impact on the area will be mitigated, he added.

"We’re all interested in protecting the environment, so for us a responsible operation to protect Loma Miranda’s biodiversity and water sources is very important," Bowden said.

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