Philex Mining’s SVP for Public and Regulatory Affairs Mike Toledo told us that the country’s biggest gold and copper producer continues to be at the forefront of responsible mining, going above and beyond what is required by law as far as taking care of the environment is concerned. 

According to Mike, Philex has spent almost P90 million or over 20 percent of its total budget of P437 million for 2017 on environmental and enhancement projects that include the management of natural resources and third-party monitoring of its mining facilities.

In its report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ mining regulatory body Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the company said it spent more than P23 million in the first quarter alone for various reforestation and forest protection projects under its 2017 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, for which a P97.8 million fund has been allocated.

The mining executive also disclosed that they strongly support Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who has given his firm assurance the government would push for responsible mining that utilizes mineral resources “based on technical feasibility, environmental sustainability, cultural and social acceptability, and financial viability.”

Philex has actually been very proactive in its environmental management initiatives as seen in its Padcal mine in Benguet. According to Philex president and CEO Euls Austin (seen in photo with Philex chairman Manny Pangilinan) – an engineer who started out as a trainee and moved up the corporate ladder to his current position – Padcal was already a “logged out” area before the mining company came in. Over the years, reforestation activities have transformed the almost barren forest into an area rich with foliage and greenery, with the company having planted an estimated 10 million trees in upland and coastal areas since 1967.

The reforestation activities in Padcal have been replicated in Bulawan in Negros Occidental, and Sibutad in Zamboanga del Norte which have been converted into a natural sanctuary for wild ducks and a lush mangrove plantation, respectively, after the company decommissioned mining in the said areas.

The fact is, there are a lot of false beliefs and misconceptions about the industry especially from those who insist that mining areas should be utilized for agricultural use. On the contrary, not all land is suitable for agriculture as there are geographical areas that are not fertile enough for agri purposes.

On the other hand, there are grounds that are rich with mineral resources and, therefore, are best harnessed for mining activities – whose output are utilized for everyday things that people take so much for granted, like cellphones and even cookware. The key, of course, is the careful and responsible manner of harnessing such mineral resources.

Philex was one of only 12 large-scale mining companies that were allowed to continue their operations by former DENR secretary Gina Lopez who ordered the shutdown of 28 other large-scale miners last February. Lopez decided not to suspend or order the shutdown of Philex and the other 11 miners because they did not pose a significant threat to the environment.

In 2012, when unusually heavy rainfall damaged one of Padcal’s storage facilities, the company displayed its strong commitment to responsible mining, instituting remediation measures and a rehabilitation program until the damage was fully restored – paying a P1 billion fine in the process.

One issue anti-mining activists love to throw against miners is the claim that areas where mining companies operate are steeped in poverty. The case of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet, where Philex operates, easily dispels such accusations. Both municipalities are considered “first class,” while the other areas with agriculture as the main source of income are classified as third, fourth and even fifth class municipalities.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Office’s 2015 poverty statistics also show Benguet having a low poverty incidence rate of 3.5 percent – even much lower than the National Capital Region which registered a poverty incidence rate of 3.9 percent, while the estimated national poverty average is at 21.6 percent. Not surprisingly, the province with the highest rate of poverty incidence is Lanao del Sur (with Marawi City as its capital) at 71.9 percent.

As to the accusations that mining companies contribute very little to the national economy, industry players point to the huge revenues local governments generate from mining activities, from the taxes, fees for permits and various other charges which, in turn, are used to fund national infrastructure projects.

In 2016, Philex paid a total of P937 million for local and national taxes, while another P414 million went to various fees, permits, withholding taxes and other charges – totaling P1.35 billion which could fund the construction of about 1,350 classrooms or build 135 kilometers of concrete roads that could go a long way in helping decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

A lot of observers agree Philex can serve as a “poster boy” of responsible mining in the country with its social development and management programs that benefit the host and neighboring communities in the areas where they operate – with schools, hospitals, roads and bridges built and maintained by the miner. As one mining industry player admitted, “Philex is ‘good as gold’ as far as responsible mining is concerned.”

Philex Mining’s SVP for Public and Regulatory Affairs Mike Toledo told us that the country’s biggest gold and copper producer continues to be at the forefront of responsible mining, going above and beyond what is required by law as far as taking care of the environment is concerned.  According to Mike, Philex has spent almost P90 million or over 20 percent of its total budget of P437 million for 2017 on environmental and enhancement projects that include the management of natural resources and third-party monitoring of its mining facilities. In its report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ mining regulatory body Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the company said it spent more than P23 million in the first quarter alone for various reforestation and forest protection projects under its 2017 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, for which a P97.8 million fund has been allocated. The mining executive also disclosed that they strongly support Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who has given his firm assurance the government would push for responsible mining that utilizes mineral resources “based on technical feasibility, environmental sustainability, cultural and social acceptability, and financial viability.” Philex has actually been very proactive in its environmental management initiatives as seen in its Padcal mine in Benguet. According to Philex president and CEO Euls Austin (seen in photo with Philex chairman Manny Pangilinan) – an engineer who started out as a trainee and moved up the corporate ladder to his current position – Padcal was already a “logged out” area before the mining company came in. Over the years, reforestation activities have transformed the almost barren forest into an area rich with foliage and greenery, with the company having planted an estimated 10 million trees in upland and coastal areas since 1967. The reforestation activities in Padcal have been replicated in Bulawan in Negros Occidental, and Sibutad in Zamboanga del Norte which have been converted into a natural sanctuary for wild ducks and a lush mangrove plantation, respectively, after the company decommissioned mining in the said areas.

The fact is, there are a lot of false beliefs and misconceptions about the industry especially from those who insist that mining areas should be utilized for agricultural use. On the contrary, not all land is suitable for agriculture as there are geographical areas that are not fertile enough for agri purposes.

On the other hand, there are grounds that are rich with mineral resources and, therefore, are best harnessed for mining activities – whose output are utilized for everyday things that people take so much for granted, like cellphones and even cookware. The key, of course, is the careful and responsible manner of harnessing such mineral resources.

Philex was one of only 12 large-scale mining companies that were allowed to continue their operations by former DENR secretary Gina Lopez who ordered the shutdown of 28 other large-scale miners last February. Lopez decided not to suspend or order the shutdown of Philex and the other 11 miners because they did not pose a significant threat to the environment.

In 2012, when unusually heavy rainfall damaged one of Padcal’s storage facilities, the company displayed its strong commitment to responsible mining, instituting remediation measures and a rehabilitation program until the damage was fully restored – paying a P1 billion fine in the process.

 One issue anti-mining activists love to throw against miners is the claim that areas where mining companies operate are steeped in poverty. The case of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet, where Philex operates, easily dispels such accusations. Both municipalities are considered “first class,” while the other areas with agriculture as the main source of income are classified as third, fourth and even fifth class municipalities.

 Data from the Philippine Statistics Office’s 2015 poverty statistics also show Benguet having a low poverty incidence rate of 3.5 percent – even much lower than the National Capital Region which registered a poverty incidence rate of 3.9 percent, while the estimated national poverty average is at 21.6 percent. Not surprisingly, the province with the highest rate of poverty incidence is Lanao del Sur (with Marawi City as its capital) at 71.9 percent.

As to the accusations that mining companies contribute very little to the national economy, industry players point to the huge revenues local governments generate from mining activities, from the taxes, fees for permits and various other charges which, in turn, are used to fund national infrastructure projects.

In 2016, Philex paid a total of P937 million for local and national taxes, while another P414 million went to various fees, permits, withholding taxes and other charges – totaling P1.35 billion which could fund the construction of about 1,350 classrooms or build 135 kilometers of concrete roads that could go a long way in helping decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

 A lot of observers agree Philex can serve as a “poster boy” of responsible mining in the country with its social development and management programs that benefit the host and neighboring communities in the areas where they operate – with schools, hospitals, roads and bridges built and maintained by the miner. As one mining industry player admitted, “Philex is ‘good as gold’ as far as responsible mining is concerned.”

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