The Caraga minerals industry has upheld its commitment to protect the environment and implement initiatives to enhance nature as it continues to fuel economic growth.
For CY 2019, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. XIII has recorded a total amount of PhP2,605,357,379.00 spent by mining companies in the region for the implementation of the Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (AEPEP). The AEPEP is in compliance with Section 171 of DENR Administrative Order No. 2010-21, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, wherein a mining company shall allocate for its annual environment-related expense a percentage which may approximate a minimum of three to five percent (3-5%) of its direct mining and milling costs depending on the environment/geologic condition, nature and scale of operations and technology employed. Based on MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2018-02, the AEPEP is divided into seven (7) major components, namely Land Resource Management; Water Resource and Quality; Air Quality; Noise and Vibration; Conservation Values; Environmental Research; and Other Activities such as trainings and Information, Education and Communication.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of the total amount is attributed to mining companies in Surigao del Norte where the primary commodities are nickel, iron and other associated minerals and major activities include land resource management, specifically backfilling, reshaping, re-contouring and planting of mined-out areas, and air quality management, specifically water spraying to ensure that air quality is within the DENR standards. The only mineral processing plant in the province, Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation, has expended a huge amount of its budget for water quality and resource, specifically the control of process tailings and waste water.
Nickel mining companies in Surigao del Sur contributed more than six percent (6%) of the total amount where major activities are mainly in land resource management (rehabilitation of mined-out areas, access road maintenance and nursery operations, among others) and water resource and quality like construction and maintenance of settling ponds and other environmental structures.
In Agusan del Norte, nickel mining companies shared almost six percent (6%) of the amount and the major activities are in land resource management such as access road maintenance and stockyard management and air quality management, specifically dust suppression through water spraying. Agata Mining Ventures, Inc., located in the province, has shown an exemplary performance in the implementation of its AEPEP and bagged the 2019 Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) for surface mining category during the 66th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference (ANMSEC) held last November 2019 in Baguio City. The company has initiated thematic landscaping and established a wildlife garden within the mine site which proved that mining and ecotourism can coexist.
More than three percent (3%) of the total amount was contributed by the mining and milling companies in Agusan del Sur where the primary commodities are gold and silver. Major AEPEP activities include land resource management, specifically slope stabilization in Agsao River which is located at the mine site and access road maintenance, and water resource and quality such as maintenance of water treatment facility and de-silting of settling ponds. Mindanao Mineral Processing and Refining Corporation, a mineral processing plant in the province, has also shown a very satisfactory performance in environmental management as one of the recipients of the 2019 PMIE Award for mineral processing category during the 66th ANMSEC. The company has turned one of its tailings storage facilities into a picturesque landscaped area that serves as a tourism spot frequently visited by locals.
Lastly, mining companies in the Province of Dinagat Islands have spent more than three percent (3%) of the PhP2.6 billion for the 2019 AEPEP. Major activities include land resource management like seedling production in the nursery and backfilling/reshaping of mined-out areas for rehabilitation and water resource and quality to include construction and maintenance of settling ponds and other environmental structures. Cagdianao Mining Corporation, located in the province, is also a PMIEA awardee for surface mining category in 2019. The company performed well in its agro-plantation development in the mine site that showcased the fact that mining and agriculture can go together.
With all these accomplishments, the picture of mining companies operating with little regard for nature is no longer accurate. Lately, proper concern and regard for the environment has become one of the fundamental elements of a successful minerals industry given that there is an increasing level of attention to environmental issues in the mining business. It is believed that economics-environment trade-off is not so sharp as once thought and that mining companies that are efficient in their main activity of mineral extraction are also best at environmental protection.