Mining firms help communities

Mining companies readily embrace the challenge of the government to help communities where they operate as part of their corporate social responsibility. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau said the responsibility to develop community relations should not be left to large-scale mining projects alone. All mining concessions, whether big or small, are required to diffuse the benefits of mining to the communities affected by their operations, it added. The country’s biggest miners exemplify the best practices in the industry, by implementing their own community development programs and environmental projects in response to the government’s call for more conscientious adherence to CSR.

Philex pursues programs

Philex Mining Corp., the biggest gold and copper producer, focuses on health, education, livelihood and public infrastructure for its social development and management program for the Padcal mine, as well as the community development program for four other exploration and rehabilitation sites, including Silangan, Kalayaan, Sibutad and Bulawan. The company spent about $1.2 million or P50.1 million in the first six months of 2012 that benefitted host and neighboring communities in Padcal, Sibutad and Bulawan. “This year, the company is planning to spend P36 million for Padcal SDMP. It should have been P155 million, had it not been for the accident that prompted work stoppage,” Philex manager for community relations and corporate environment Angeline Bondad said.

Responsible mining

Community development projects for Philex projects amounted to P55 million in 2012. For Padcal alone, the company has already spent quarter of a billion or about P257 million, from 2001 to 2012. Under the governing rules of mining, a mining company with active operations is required to spend 1.5 percent of its total operating cost for SDMP. Besides implementing its core social development initiatives, Philex Mining also provided financial support to various groups for their cultural affairs and donated seedlings for reforestation projects. The company also adheres to its vision and mission of becoming a world-class and respected natural resource company devoted to delivering excellent value to investors, employees and other stakeholders as well as a responsible corporation that discovers and processes minerals and energy resources for public use. Guided by its strict environmental policy, Philex Mining successfully carried out a number of reforestation projects, including the planting of more than seven million trees over 2,000 hectares at its Padcal mine in Benguet province. No wonder, the company has received the “Best in Mining Forest” award during the Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference in the Philippine for seven years in a row. The projects implemented in Padcal in the first half of 2012 included the treatment of 2,149 patients at the company-owned Sto. Niño Hospital; scholarships for 800 students in high school, elementary, technical, vocational, and pre-schools; goat-raising training for members of the Ansagan Consumers’ Cooperative; and construction of a footbridge, 810 meters of farm-to-market road, one unit spillway, and a water system benefitting 30 households. For its Silangan project in Surigao del Norte province, Philex Mining shelled out $318,200 or P13.5 million in the first half of 2012 for accident insurance to barangay functionaries; medical and dental mission in the host and neighboring communities; repair, construction and improvement of school buildings; and establishment of a model organic farm. It also conducted mine tours for 138 local government officials from the towns of Tubod, Placer, and Sison; provided financial support to various groups for their cultural activities; and donated 100 mangium and 60 narra seedlings to Barangay San Pedro in Sison and Barangay Marga in Tubod, in coordination with the Environment Department. The company was consistent in articulating to host and neighboring communities, local government units and government regulators its policy and intention to make these initiatives sustainable in the long term.

Benguet plants 20m trees

Meanwhile, the country’s oldest miner, Benguet Corp., similarly implemented programs and projects consistent with the government-mandated CSR. Protecting and caring for the environment has always been a part of the company’s social responsibility programs.  As a responsible corporate citizen, Benguet Corp. said it has pursued significant reforestation efforts in line with its strategic operations. For over a century now, Benguet Corp. has been involved in responsible mining operations, as manifested by its continuing commitment to preserve, protect and enhance the environment. Benguet Corp. planted and nurtured to full maturity more than 20 million trees in more than 18,000 hectares of land in and around its various mining communities and timber license areas. Likewise, Benguet Corp. also carried out programs to reestablish natural vegetation cover, extensive planting of suitable species of trees, shrubs and grass in all of the company’s mined-out areas, waste dumps, tailing dams, road sides and other areas in the mine sites. Presently, Benguet Corp. continues to maintain a tree nursery that is capable of producing five million quality seedlings per year.  It also embarked on a comprehensive stewardship program that will preserve and protect a 140,000-hectare forest under a timber licensing agreement.

More social investments

Meanwhile, the five holders of financial and technical assistance agreements— OceanaGold Phils., Agusan Petroleum, FCF Minerals, Altamina Exploration and Resources Inc. and Sagittarius Mines Inc.—all vowed to undertake social investments to improve the lives of the people depending on mining. OceanaGold holds an agreement with the government to develop Didipio, a copper/gold-rich town in Nueva Vizcaya province. SMI, contractor of the Tampakan copper mine, has already invested as much as P135 million in various corporate social involvement programs and as much as P2.5 billion in Mindanao through employment, annual wages, purchase of goods and services, payment of taxes to the government, power and fuel charges and community partnerships, sponsorships and donations. It has also granted financial support for the education of around 19,000 elementary, high school and college students in the Tampakan area of South Cotabato.
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