Chamber of Mines creates oversight committee to 'self-police' members

By Lilybeth Ison

September 7, 2017, 9:50 am

MANILA -- In response to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to observe responsible mining in the country, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has created an oversight committee to self-police its members, comprised of some of the country's biggest mining companies.

"What it is tasked to do is carry out investigations, as directed by the board of trustees. If there is an incident from any of us that is serious enough that the board of trustees feel should be investigated, then the oversight committee will step in and get third party experts and conduct investigations," said COMP newly elected chairman Gerard Brimo, who also serves as the president of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC).

"We have taken at heart the President's call during our recent visit with him to do things responsibly and to do mine rehabilitation," Brimo said in his speech Tuesday during the opening of the 2017 Mining Philippines Conference held at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

Last August, President Duterte met with mining industry stakeholders in Malacañang where he underscored the importance of responsible mining. The President essentially said that for as long as mining groups, whether big or small, follow the rules on mining and keep environmental laws in mind, they can continue with their operations.

COMP said it is planning to adopt Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) in terms of qualifying members. TSM is a set of tools and indicators that drives the performance of the companies and ensure that key mining risks are managed responsibly among their facilities.

Meanwhile, a legal definition to responsible mining can help the highly challenged mineral sector move forward as this could set the direction in monitoring strict compliance among mining firms.

Ronald Recidoro, the new COMP executive director, said a legal definition to responsible mining will be very helpful not just for the industry but also for the government.

"It will give the industry and the public a set of metrics by which to measure mining’s impacts and performance in relation to the national (and local) economy, the communities that host mining projects, and the environment," he said.

However, Recidoro said any definition should not be too rigid, considering that standards are always changing, and what may be considered as "responsible mining" now could be outdated in 10 to 15 years.

Brimo, who has replaced Artemio Disini as chair, is tasked to lead the newly formed oversight committee as well as the executive committee.

As part of the board restructuring, COMP also elected Gilberto Teodoro Jr. of Sagittarius Mines, and Jose Leviste, Jr. of Oceana Gold Philippines as its new vice chair, while Recidoro, former vice president for legal and policy, is now the executive director.

Nelia Halcon, on the other hand, retained her position as the group's executive vice president. Gaspar Andres and Ramon Diokno are now COMP's corporate secretary and treasurer, respectively.

Aside from Brimo, Teodoro and Leviste, the 15-member board of trustees now include Isidro C. Alcantara, Jr. (Marcventures Holdings, Inc), Eulalio B. Austin, Jr. (Philex Mining Corp.), Gloria L. Tan-Climaco (Filminera Resources Corp.), Isidro A. Consunji (Berong Nickel Corp.), Joaquin C. Lagonera (Sagittarius Mines, Inc.), Eugene T. Mateo (TVI Resource Dev’t. Phils., Inc.), Clarence T. Pimentel, Jr. (CTP Cons. & Mining Corp.), Adrian S. Ramos (Atlas Conso. Mining & Dev’t. Corp.), Horacio C. Ramos (Pacific Nickel Philippines, Inc.), Toru Higo (Sumitomo Metal Mining Phils. Holdings Corp.), Bryan U. Yap (Lepanto Conso. Mining Co.), and Martin Antonio G. Zamora, Executive Vice President, Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp.

COMP has not yet made any replacement to Benjamin Philip Romualdez, who had been COMP president since 2004. (PNA)