Xstrata’s Dominican nickel project in UN’s hands

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) representative, Valerie Julliand, announced Tuesday that it has agreed to the Dominican Republic government's request to review Xstrata Nickel’s environmental impact study for the Loma Miranda project, located in the country’s central region.

According to Dominican Today, the country asked the UNDP to analyze Xstrata's Falcondo impact on the region, to decide whether to grant the miner a new mining licence.

Local newspaper Dario Horizonte (in Spanish)  states that the authorities are being pressed by environmental groups, which claim that Xstrata’s operations are affecting the nation's main water reserve.

Early this month, Xstrata Nickel said a Dominican court’s ruling ordered it to halt production at Loma Miranda and, at the same time, allowed unrestricted access to the property by third parties, violating its constitutional rights.

According to data published by the Dominican Republic’s geology society (Sodogeo), the Caribbean nation is sitting on nearly $58 billion of unexplored reserves of minerals and metals.

Based on the entity’s calculations, the underground hidden treasure trove comprises about 27 million ounces of gold, 168 million ounces of silver, 652 million pounds of copper, 6 billion pounds of zinc and 25 million pounds of nickel.

Only eight companies currently share the country’s mineral wealth. Xstrata (LON:XTA), Barrick Gold (NYSE & TSX: ABX) and Goldcorp (NYSE: GG &  TSX:G) are the major players in the Dominican’s emerging mining industry. The firms have a combined total of 14 exploration and exploitation projects, spread throughout various parts of the Caribbean nation.

Image from Flickr.

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