A proposal to create a new national park that would have blocked the expansion of Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) ferro-nickel Falcondo mine in the forested mountains of the central Dominican Republic was vetoed Tuesday night by President Danilo Medina.
El Periódico reports (in Spanish) that the authority sent the ruling back to the Senate, saying he had “serious doubts” about the constitutionality of such decision, as it does not respect the country’s mining law nor takes into account international treaties signed by the Dominican Republic.
Medina also said there is no scientific prove that the mine expansion would damage the area, covering about 16 square miles.
However, the President noted his veto did not mean he has approved the project, which he said would only be authorized after the company completes “all the required environmental impact studies.”
Glencore has mined for nickel in the area through the now absorbed Canadian Falconbridge since 1971, and was seeking permits to expand its operations on about 3,400 acres (1,380 hectares) near the town of Bonao.
Billions in compensation
A lawyer for the mine has said in the past that the government would have had to pay around $4 billion in compensation had the President declared the area a national park.
The project in Loma Miranda, less than 100 km north of the capital Santo Domingo, has been the focus of relentless environmental protests for years.
The firm’s plans to expand Falcondo received a setback earlier last year when the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) rejected an environmental impact study, qualifying it as “incomplete.”
A UN panel also said the project would endanger water supplies, wildlife and wetlands.
Both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies passed the bill last month by wide margins amid a combination of environmental concerns and fears that multinational mining companies may be benefiting more than the public from the country’s natural resources.
That mine pic looks like it’s surrounded by farms, not forest. Good to hear the President down there at least has some brains.