COMP rolls out ‘sustainable’ mining program in Mindanao
SAYING it is determined to improve mining operations, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has recently launched Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative among member-companies in Mindanao.
TSM, a set of social and environmental performance measurement tools, will also be launched in Luzon and the Visayas in mid-september.
The Canadian mining model was adopted by COMP with the hope of convincing the Duterte administration that it is willing to go beyond mere compliance as part of its commitment to responsible mining.
At the onset of the Duterte administration, the mining industry’s operations suffered huge setbacks with various policies put in place by then Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez.
During her short stint, Lopez, an environmentalist, ordered the suspension, or closure, of 26 large-scale metallic mines, cancellation of 75 inactive Mineral
Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in areas within or near watersheds, and imposed a ban on open-pit mining method.
The launching of TSM was participated in by Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Macarthur, Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional directors Glenn Noble of the Caraga region, Hernani Abdon of Region 9, and Felizardo Gacad Jr. of Region 12 who have all expressed their encouragement and support for mining industry’s big players in Mindanao.
Some 80 representatives of mining and exploration projects in the country’s second-largest island group have committed to implement TSM in their respective projects.
“TSM has produced a decade and a half of reliable performance information which we can show governments and international organizations… continued significant improvements in the way mines are managed in terms of their environmental and social aspects,” Macarthur said in a news statement.
TSM was established by the Mining Association of Canada in 2004 and adopted by COMP in 2017, making the Philippines the first in Asia to subscribe to this self-assessment system coupled with external verification that is rapidly evolving into a global standard for best practices in sustainable mining.
COMP has made compliance with TSM mandatory to all its members. Apart from Canada and the Philippines, other countries that have adopted TSM are Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Finland and Spain.
“Our industry, and how each of us performs, has been under tremendous scrutiny for some time now,” COMP Chairman Gerard Brimo said. “We not only need to get things right, but we have to prove it to our stakeholders, and even beyond. TSM will help us achieve that. It is the commitment of our member-companies to essentially ensure best practices in what we do, and to demonstrate that annually. It is also our way of demonstrating that we go beyond mere compliance, which again means employing best practices in everything that we do.”
Noble, for his part, said the adoption of TSM in the Philippines is “a great milestone for the Philippine minerals industry...this is what we need so much. Implementing TSM will greatly improve [the industry’s] image and ensure that mining will be conducted in the most socially, economically and environmentally responsible manner.”
“I am very happy to see that the national mining association here is using TSM, including a Community of Interest [COI] advisory panel to allow a cross section of society as stakeholders to be involved, to be consulted,” Macarthur added. “This [panel] not only oversees development and implementation but it provides an interesting dialogue for transparency and disclosure and a strong consultation so everybody realizes the efforts being made to ensure that the mining process is responsible.”
The COI is a multi-stakeholder group composed of 15 individuals from various sectors of society that provides guidance to COMP in the implementation of TSM.
The TSM launching—conducted via a videotelephony platform hosted by The Embassy of Canada—came after nearly three years of substantial review of the program’s various components to assure applicability to conditions in the Philippines.