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Chamber of Mines accredits 13 new external verifiers

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has named 13 newly accredited verification service providers (VSPs) who will critically review the performance ratings of its members following the measurement tools prescribed by the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program.

In a statement, COMP chairman Michael Toledo said the VSPs are experienced independent experts in social, environmental, as well as mining and other related sciences who will vigorously apply the TSM protocols.

He said they were all vetted and approved by the multi-sector TSM Community of Interest Advisory Panel.

“Where required, the VSPs can change companies’ self-assessed ratings to ensure they accurately reflect the mining operations’ management practices and performance,” Toledo said.

TSM is a set of indicators to drive the performance of operating mines and ensure that key mining risks are managed responsibly, and best practices are used at members’ facilities. The program was established by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) in 2004. Its self-assessment system is rapidly evolving into the global standard for best practices in sustainable mining.

COMP adopted the program in 2017 and has since made compliance with TSM mandatory to all its members.

“Enhancing the environment, social, and governance performance of our member companies beyond the word of the law is our ultimate goal with TSM,” Toledo said.

“Our VSPs will be one of the pillars who will help us achieve that. They will perform an indispensable role in helping our members adhere to TSM’s Guiding Principles, hinged on accountability, transparency, and credibility,”he said.

Among the newly accredited VSPs, who were trained by MAC with the support of the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines, are Joey Nelson Ayson, president of the Philippine Mining & Exploration Association and the UP Geological Society; Joselito Bacani, former president of Intex Resources Phils., Inc. and a former member of the independent audit team that investigated the Rapu-rapu mines spill incident; and Michael Cabalda, a former social development consultant of Holcim Phils., Inc. and a former division chief of the Mining Environment and Safety Division of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Other accredited VSPs inclue Jose Dagala, who has held responsible positions in various large-scale metallic mining projects as an expert in the areas of indigenous peoples relations, corporate social responsibility, community organizing, and community development; Roland de Jesus, immediate past assistant director and 12-year regional director of the MGB, and a recipient of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) EAGLE Award; Maria Karla Espinosa, a lawyer and former national coordinator and now consultant of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; Katrina Francisco, senior director for Climate Change and Sustainability Services of the SGV and an accredited Corporate Governance facilitator of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Karen Jago-on, a professor at the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning and member of a Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) fact-finding team that reviewed the operations of existing mining operations following the closure and suspension orders issued by former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

Rounding up the list are Corinthia Naz, who also participated in the MICC fact-finding review and a former consultant of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization as well as a review panelist of the United Nations Environment Programme; Constancio Paye, Jr., a retired 26-year regional director of the MGB and also a DENR EAGLE awardee; Fernando Sajona, an MICC fact-finding review team leader, he completed 23 years of government service, mainly in the MGB, and consulted for various structural and engineering geology projects; Ramon Santos, a mining engineer and geologist with 40 years of work experience in the mining industry; and, Benjamin Villacorte, a partner with SGV’s Assurance Practice, among them in Climate Change and Sustainability Services where he assists clients in understanding and identifying key sustainability issues.

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