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Recognizing the Philippine mining industry’s best in the ASEAN region

Published Apr 23, 2024 7:28 pm Updated Apr 24, 2024 1:43 pm

Mining is an essential part of our daily lives intricately linked to a plethora of products that define modern life—from the smartphones in our hands to the vehicles we drive and the homes we live in. This vital industry also fosters economic growth through job creation and community development in regions hosting mining projects thus, playing a significant role in the economic development of a country. Yet, the shadow of the past, characterized by illegal and environmentally detrimental practices, often looms large over mining's contributions.

The Philippines, being the fifth mineralized country in the world, is subject to the same issues. However, the government and the private sector have been advocating for a shift towards responsible mining by upholding strict local and global standards and best practices. Responsible mining goes beyond compliance and buzzwords, and it is a credo that the local sector adheres to in all facets of mining operations. In simple terms, responsible mining ensures the safety and health of the host and neighboring communities and mitigates the environmental and social footprint of mining operations. It covers environmental protection and enhancement, social/community development and management, health and safety standards, governance, transparency, and accountability.

The government has enacted rigorous rules and regulations to steer the industry towards sustainable practices to achieve a balance between economic acceleration and environmental protection. These include progressive rehabilitation mandates from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ensuring that mining activities from exploration to decommissioning incorporate ecological restoration. Additionally, the Social Development and Management Program of the mining companies underscores a five-year commitment to uplift and empower host and neighboring communities.

In recent years, mining firms have been fine-tuning their multifaceted approach for a sustainable and responsible way of extracting minerals. Their efforts include waste reduction, biodiversity conservation, engagement with local communities, application of eco-friendly technologies, and adoption of sustainable practices. The industry’s commitment to go beyond national standards and fully embrace the principle of responsible mining practices has not gone unnoticed on the global scene.

Last year, the Philippines was recognized for its responsible mining practices by winning four major awards for different categories for Best Practices on Sustainable Mineral Development during the 3rd ASEAN Mineral Awards (AMA) held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. FCF Minerals Corporation, engaged in commercial operation of minerals through the Runruno Gold Project in the province of Nueva Vizcaya received two awards: 1st runner-up in the Mineral Mining (Metallic) category and 2nd runner-up in the Mineral Processing (Metallic) category. Hinatuan Mining Corporation’s Tagana-an Nickel Project in Surigao del Norte was named the 2nd runner-up in the Best Practices in Distribution category, while the Bulacan quarry of Republic Cement & Building Materials, Inc. was recognized as 1st runner-up in the Mineral Mining (non-metallic) category.

This is not the first time that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) lauded the sustainable practices of Philippine mining companies. In 2019, two subsidiaries of natural resources development firm Nickel Asia Corporation were recognized in the 2nd edition of AMA.

Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC), which operates a nickel processing plant in the town of Bataraza, in Palawan, bagged the Best Practices award in Sustainable Mineral Development under the Metallic Mineral Processing Category, while Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Agata Mining Ventures were hailed as runners-up in the Metallic Mineral Mining and Metallic Mineral Distribution categories, respectively. Likewise, in the non-metallic category, Helix Aggregates, Inc., formerly Lafarge Holcim Aggregates, Inc., placed second in both the mining and processing categories. Meanwhile, the Philippine entity of Australian-Canadian firm OceanaGold Corp. clinched many recognitions for its corporate social responsibility efforts also in 2019. OceanaGold Philippines, Incorporated (OGPI), the operator of the Didipio gold and copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya, was declared the winner of the Best Practice in Minerals Processing category. At the 1st AMA, the Philippines bagged the highest awards: RTNMC was declared the winner in the Best Practice in Minerals Mining category, while OGPI got the Best Practice in Mineral Processing category award. 

Launched in 2017, the biennial award was established by ASEAN mining ministers to recognize companies that have made outstanding contributions toward the promotion of environmentally and socially sustainable minerals development in the ASEAN region. The AMA recognizes contributions involving actual impacts on community development, ASEAN minerals supply, human resource development, productivity, and resource efficiency, and actual measures to address health, safety, and environmental performance. Meanwhile, the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA), established in 1997, annually recognizes mineral exploration, mining, and mineral processing companies in the Philippines that have shown exemplary performance in safety and health management, environmental protection and enhancement, and social and community development. Last year, Cagdianao Mining Corporation, CTP Construction and Mining Corporation—Dahican Project, Eramen Minerals, Inc., FCF Minerals Corporation, Hinatuan Mining Corporation, Taganito Mining Corporation, and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, for surface mining category; Eagle Cement Corporation, Republic Cement & Building Materials, Inc.—Batangas and Teresa quarries, and Helix Resources and Development Corporation for quarry category; and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation and Philippine Mining Service Corporation—Alcoy Plant for mineral processing category were all recognized for their commitment towards responsible mining and sustainable mineral development after undergoing rigorous assessment and onsite validation of the PMIEA Selection Committee.

It is recognized that mining has been embedded into Philippine culture way before the Spanish occupation. Moreover, almost every major industrialized economy traces its establishment to some form of extractive enterprise that built its foundations on harnessing precious and base metals to manufacture steel and build up its reserves. Towards this, the local mining sector is committed to achieving social acceptance—and ultimately, industrial development—through the active engagement of its stakeholders, which goes beyond any global recognition.

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Editor’s Note: This article was provided by National Unified Information Education Communication Program.