The Island of Palawan is home to the largest nickel mines in the Philippines. Mining and related processing have taken place since the 1970’s in this region. The village of Rio Tuba is in the Municipality of Bataraza, Province of Palawan. The Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) started open-pit mining in 1975. It is currently the largest producer of lateritic nickel ore in the Philippines. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. (SMM) is a Japanese company engaged in the development, manufacture and sales of nickel products. In the 2000’s SMM established the Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) in Bataraza. Berong Nickel, and Citinickel Mines and Development are also active in mining nickel on the island.
Palawan is known for its diverse and endemic flora and fauna. Many of the endemic species are also considered rare, threatened or endangered. Nickel mining has caused environmental destruction and led to peoples’ struggles against the expansion of mines. The Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act (SEP law/ Republic Act No. 7611 of 1992) protects the natural habitat and the resources.
Currently, mining companies are seeking to expand mining operations. With plans to quadruple the mining area, the potential environmental and social impact is enormous.