15-year-old mine produced 10.3 mln wmt of ore
Mine site to undergo six-year rehabilitation
Philippines is China's top nickel ore supplier
Adds background on nickel supply, Philippine output
MANILA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The Philippines' Berong nickel mine, operated by DMCI Holdings Inc's DMC.PS mining unit, is expected to be fully depleted by year-end and will be decommissioned and rehabilitated, the company said on Wednesday.
Berong, located in the country's western province of Palawan, is one of 28 operating nickel mines in the Philippines, China's biggest source of nickel ore.
Although Berong's output is not as big as mines operated by the Philippines' two biggest producers - Nickel Asia Corp NIKL.PS and Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc FNI.PS - the decommissioning could add to tightness in global supply.
The global nickel market deficit stood at 5,200 tonnes in September, narrower than a shortfall of 14,600 tonnes a month earlier, according to data from the International Nickel Study Group.
The Philippines' nickel output grew 29% between January-September to 325,848 tonnes, up from 253,204 tonnes in the same period last year, government data showed.
The Berong mine, which opened in October 2006, had since yielded 10.3 million wet metric tonnes of nickel ore.
A six-year rehabilitation period will cover 343 hectares (848 acres) of "disturbed areas" that will be turned over to the government and which could be used for eco-tourism, agro-forestry and inland fish farming, DMCI said in a statement.
"Our end goal is to restore and enhance the mined land so its economic and ecological value is similar to, if not better than, when we started operations in the area," said Tulsi Das Reyes, president of DMCI Mining.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz Editing by Ed Davies)
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