Dominican Republic lawmakers back park in area where Canadian company seeks to mine

Lawmakers in the Dominican Republic approved a plan Wednesday to create a national park in an area where a Canadian company has sought to expand mining operations.

The Senate ratified the project with support from 28 of the 29 Senators present a day after the Chamber of Deputies approved it. President Danilo Medina has not said whether he will sign the bill into law over the objections of Toronto-based Glencore Xstrata PLC.

Continue Reading Below

Loma Miranda National Park would be on 16 square miles in the mountainous central Dominican Republic north of Santo Domingo.

Glencore Xstrata has mined for nickel in the area since 1971 and was seeking permits to expand its operations on about 3,400 acres (1,380 hectares) near the town of Bonao. The company has said its current mine has only a few years left and it would leave without the expansion.

A team of U.N. experts had studied the project and determined it would threaten an environmentally sensitive area and many people who live in the area had opposed the project.

Seizing the property would violate the Dominican constitution and "set a bad precedent" for the country, the company's Dominican affiliate said in a statement. A lawyer for the mine has said in the past that the government would have to pay around $4 billion in compensation if it declares the area a national park.