Recent events that impact the regulatory environment for Philippine mining have prompted multiple questions about the state of the industry as a whole. In an effort to provide more clarity to our stakeholders and to other interested parties, we have prepared brief, fact-based answers to frequently asked questions that pertain specifically to PGMC. We have also taken this opportunity to share how PGMC has matched and exceeded contractual, national, and international standards for responsible mining.
What is the proof that PGMC operates at a higher standard compared to most other mining companies?
By any standard, there is overwhelming conclusive, factual, evidence-based confirmation that PGMC meets or exceeds all statutory, regulatory and contractual, national, and international standards.
PGMC has ISO 14001:2015 Certification, which the current administration has cited as a basis for determining whether or not a company is practicing responsible mining. We have received multiple awards for mine safety and environmental protection. Just in 2016, we received, among other awards, the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) Titanium Achievement for Surface Mining Operation, the Most Improved Safety Performance Award, and the Best Surface Mine Supervisor Award. It should be noted that the awarding committee was composed of key government leaders, and was co-chaired by DENR Sec. Lopez.
Last year, PGMC likewise passed the mining audit conducted by DENR’s Team 10, owing to its compliance with Philippine statutory, regulatory and contractual standards for responsible mining. However, DENR Sec. Lopez—outside of due process and with no basis in law—arbitrarily overturned the findings and recommendations of the DENR audit.
In overturning the recommendation of the department’s own technical, engineering and legal specialists. The Secretary cited three flawed allegations:
- 1. That PGMC failed to deposit sufficient amount for the required rehabilitation fund
- 2. That PGMC contributes to the siltation in the area and to the discoloration of the nearby bays
- 3. That PGMC is negatively impacting the community by operating in a watershed.
Each of these allegations has no factual, statutory, regulatory or contractual basis.
On Incorrect Allegation #1: Did PGMC fail to deposit enough money for the rehabilitation fund?
No. All documentary evidence proves PGMC’s strict compliance with all its financial obligations. This is in line with our company policy to always meet—if not exceed—all necessary requirements.
PGMC has already deposited its Php74,593,674.00 commitment—as mandated by law, and as shown in several pieces of documentary evidence—in full and ahead of schedule. The alleged owed amount by the Secretary, which is at Php1,259,670,677.00, has no statutory, regulatory, contractual, and documentary basis. We can make all relevant documents immediately available upon request.
On Incorrect Allegation #2: Is PGMC responsible for the siltation or the discoloration of the nearby bays?
No. The siltation and the discoloration of the coastal waters have been going on long before PGMC began commercial operations in the area in 2007. A baseline study conducted in 2003—which was approved by the DENR—shows that the siltation and the discoloration are natural phenomena that had been occurring in the area for decades. The study notes that the locals have long referred to the nearby bay—Hinadkaban Bay—as “the Red Bay.”
Current PGMC operations do not contribute to siltation or discoloration, since the company has invested heavily in measures and structures that prevent siltation. DENR’s Team 10 has reviewed these measures and found them sufficient.
On Incorrect Allegation #3: Is PGMC negatively impacting the community by operating in a watershed? ?
No. PGMC has always gone above and beyond requirements, investing significantly in infrastructure that protects the local waterways. We do this even if there are no actual physical communities in the mining area.
PGMC has designed, engineered, and constructed 42 series of settling ponds and 7 check dams to make certain that runoff water from mining areas is prevented from reaching nearby bodies of water. We have also constructed gabions that stabilize the riverbanks and prevent erosion. The DENR Team 10 mining audit noted these structures and declared them sufficient. Read more about these efforts.
Does PGMC help uplift the lives of those in nearby communities?
Absolutely. Community relations is one of the pillars of the PGMC project. To date, we have spent Php180 million on required Social Development and Management Programs. But through active Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, PGMC has—in total—spent significantly more than this required amount for community development.
This is further evidenced by the overwhelming political and community support enjoyed by PGMC on the Provincial and LGU levels.
These projects are interactive and participatory by design, which assures that all development projects are relevant and empowering. Through this approach, we have managed to improve peoples’ lives on an individual level. We have provided an elementary school building, boats for fishermen, training programs that certify auto mechanics, barangay electrification efforts, and a public market. The local communities, families and other stakeholders themselves have attested to the effectiveness of PGMC’s projects, and the following video highlights the company’s positive impact on the community.
The overarching goal is to empower those in our surrounding communities to build better lives for themselves even beyond the lifetime of our mining operations.
The company’s effect on the community can also be seen through the 4,000 quality jobs provided to local residents. The value of these jobs is magnified when contrasted with the local livelihoods before mining operations began, which were driven by environmentally unsustainable activities, such as woodcutting and charcoal making.
What does PGMC think of the Duterte administration’s mining crackdown?
We support, unconditionally, the President’s position that only responsible mining should be allowed in the Philippines. PGMC’s mining operations continue as usual, and we are confident that—when a scientific and evidence-based analysis is conducted by the MICC—the original audit findings, which recommend the continuation of our operations, will be upheld.
What kind of rehabilitation program does PGMC undertake?
PGMC meets and exceeds all requirements for mining, and rehabilitation is a large part of those requirements. We also believe that rehabilitation, in a general sense, is not simply what one does after mining; it is an integral part of the mining process.
For instance, we have exceeded compliance with the government’s requirement to plant one hundred trees for every tree cut down. So far, we have reforested 652.8 hectares of land outside the mining area, which is more than thrice the area currently being mined.
The technical nature of nickel mining also allows us to immediately rehabilitate land that has been mined. We call this progressive rehabilitation. Within a year in a mined-out area, we are able to complete the process of reshaping the landscape, which allows us to begin re-vegetation.