By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Two Filipino Mining companies are now hoping to make the entire Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte proud after winning big at the first ASEAN Mineral Awards, which recognize the best mining firms throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.
Joey Leviste, chairman of Oceanagold Philippines Inc., said that Oceana Gold and a Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) subsidiary both won at the first ASEAN Mineral Awards (AMA), which is now being held on the sidelines of ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Minerals in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.
To be exact, OceanaGold has been named as the Best for Mineral Processing among all miners in the ASEAN region, while NAC’s Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC) topped the Best Mineral Mining category.
“It’s a Philippine sweep! This has not been announced formally but the MGB [Mines an Geosciences Bureau] people have already reported the results to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in Manila. Awards will be formally given this Thursday,” Leviste said in a text message to reporters on Wednesday.
The AMA was established to honor mining companies from the ASEAN communities for their contributions in the advancement of responsible and environment-friendly mining.
It is a project of the Special Task Force (STF) under the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Minerals (ASOMM).
Composing the STF are representatives from the ASEAN Member States, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
In an interview with reporters before the results were revealed, NAC President and Chief Executive Officer Gerard Brimo said that he hopes that Philippines’ nomination at the AMA will make Duterte proud.
“We are competing with other mining companies at ASEAN region. Can you imagine if a Philippine company wins the best [mining firm in the region”. It is already going beyond the Philippines. We are going beyond our shores, competing with other ASEAN countries,” Brimo, who is also the chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), said.
“It will show that we do have world-class mines in the country,” he added.
Both RTNMC and OceanaGold are member companies of COMP.
The awarding will be made tonight (Thursday) during the gala dinner of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Minerals.
The AMA particularly recognizes the contributions involving actual impacts on community development, implications on ASEAN minerals supply, human resource development, productivity and resource efficiency, and actual measures to address health, safety and environmental performance.
According to its guidelines, the AMA aims to promote environmentally and socially sustainable mineral development, improve the general perception/image of the mineral industry, disseminate best practices in the mineral sector (mining, transportation, processing, etc.), increase public awareness on Best Practices in Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Mineral Development, as well as to improve and enhance the Best Practices in mineral industries, strengthen regional cooperation and encourage sharing of expertise, and, encourage private sector participation for community development.
MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano is now also in Myanmar for the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Minerals, MGB Assistant Director Danilo Uykieng said.
Even before the results were announced, Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) President Louie Sarmiento said that he has no doubt that the two companies will bag the major awards as they are two of the consistent winners of Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA).
Just last week, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the administration will continue to push for responsible mining in the country despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest comment about the sector.
At the 64th Annual National Mine Safety and Safety Conference (ANMSEC), Cimatu basically gave the sector a chance to redeem itself for “failing” the country and the people for being associated with environment degradation, social injustice, corporate greed, and utter irresponsibility, and that he wants to see its contribution to the Philippine economy grow by double digits in the future.
It was the first time Cimatu spoke publicly about the minerals sector since Duterte expressed his latest rant against it, saying he is not keen on lifting the ban on open pit mine and that he will close mining firms that will continue to pay taxes to National People’s Army.