COMP rolls out ‘sustainabl­e’ mining program in Mindanao

- By Jonathan L. Mayuga @jonlmayuga

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.

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