By Lilybeth Ison
MANILA — The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) remains upbeat about “go(ing) beyond mere compliance” in its operations amid some unresolved policy issues, such as the ban on open-pit mining that adversely affected the growth of the minerals development sector.
In his presentation in the ongoing 2019 Mining Philippines Conference and Exhibition at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City, COMP chairman Gerard Brimo said the completion of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) audits on 26 companies that were served closure or suspension orders as a result of the previous audit “bears positive news” for the industry.
Brimo said a vast majority passed the MICC audit criteria, which he described as more thorough and encompassing.
As of August 2019, the government has lifted the suspension order against three mining firms –Berong Nickel Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., and Emir Mineral Resources Co.
The suspension on two other mining firms –Strong Built Mining Development Corp. and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp.– have also been recommended by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Offices for lifting.
Brimo said going beyond mere compliance is the reason why COMP decided to adopt the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative of the Mining Association of Canada.
“TSM represents a series of sustainable ‘best’ practices that we should implement and rate ourselves against. In certain aspects, the program goes beyond regulatory compliance,” he noted.
Brimo said COMP has completed the formation of a Community of Interest (COI) Advisory Panel, which is critical in implementing TSM.
The panel is composed of 12 high-level individuals in their respective fields, and three COMP trustees who will serve in the panel on an ex-officio basis.
Brimo said there are policies that need to be addressed, such as the ban on open-pit mining method due to the destruction of the environment.
In her presentation, Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary for Climate Change and Mining Concerns Analiza Teh said the MICC has earlier identified several measures as an alternative for open-pit mining.
The recommendations include the enhancement of design and performance standards for open-pit mines to take into consideration, best-practice control strategies and technologies, revisiting the sanctions/penalties prescribed for mining violations, accelerating and scaling up of rehabilitation of abandoned/legacy mines, and conduct of periodic reviews of the “go and no-go zones” for mining applications.
“What we need to look is how to enhance standards (on open pit mining method) and other additional safeguards to further save the environment,” she said.
Meanwhile, Brimo said although the reputation of the mining industry suffered tremendously by the “attacks” that it has gone through in the recent past, the MICC audit “paints a better picture”.
“The MICC audit was thorough and all-encompassing… as it involved not only environmental performance but also legal, technical and social prescriptions by individuals that were experts in those fields,” he noted.
Brimo said he expects to repair the damaged image of the industry to take some time and a concerted effort of the industry is needed to prove that it operates responsibly by communicating its accomplishments.
“To my mind, that means not just mere compliance, but going beyond,” he said. (PNA)