Towards sustainable mining

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
Towards sustainable mining
A virtual meeting of Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) verification service providers.

As the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte comes to a resounding close, let me share with you an anecdote.

A week after the then-Davao mayor won the presidency in the 2016 national elections, Philex Mining Corp. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan and I met him in Davao City where he, among other things, iterated his challenge to the mining industry to adhere to strict international standards, particularly that of Australia and Canada.

Philex Mining had already established itself as a right and principled mining company, one of the oldest and largest gold and copper producers in Southeast Asia.

Long before the DENR required mining companies to obtain ISO certification, Philex Mining already had its Integrated Management System (IMS) certification, which incorporated both ISO 14001:2004 on environmental management system and OHSAS 18001:2007 for occupational health and safety management.

Philex Mining came across the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), which the latter launched in 2004. It was mandatory for all MAC members in their respective Canadian operations, but many of them also applied it to their international projects.

The author at a TSM overview session.

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 success of this self-assessment system is such that it is emerging as the global standard for best practices in sustainable mining.

Because TSM can only be adopted as a standard by a national mining association such as the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), Philex president and CEO Euls Austin Jr. proposed it to the then-COMP board of directors. The COMP board approved it, and the movement towards its adoption started.

On Dec. 19, 2017, the COMP, under its chairman, then Nickel Asia Corp. president and CEO Jerry Brimo, signed the mutual cooperation and licensing agreement with the MAC, as represented by its president and CEO, Pierre Gratton, who, together with MAC VP Ben Chalmers, flew all the way to Manila from Canada not just to sign the agreement but to also conduct a two-day training to select representatives from COMP member companies on the TSM. The signing was also witnessed by my good friend, then Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes.

Fast forward to a little more than four years later and the implementation of TSM in the Chamber of Mines is in full swing.

Just recently, COMP 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 TSM program.

The VSPs are experienced independent experts in social, environmental, as well as mining and other related sciences who will vigorously apply the TSM protocols. They were all vetted and approved by the multi-sector TSM Community of Interest (COI) Advisory Panel.

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

In my welcome remarks as the incumbent chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines at the start of the VSPs’ Orientation Sessions, I mentioned that enhancing the environment, social, and governance (ESG) performance of COMP member companies beyond the word of the law is our goal with TSM.

The VSPs will be one of the pillars that 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.

I’ve mentioned before that it ironically took a pandemic for the importance of mining to be recognized. It still is a viable driver for the economy and for recovery if allowed to flourish.

It is ironic indeed that the mining industry, once dubbed “a pariah for ages due to its massive environmental impact… is about to turn into the one indispensable industry for the energy transition.”

It is against this backdrop that ESG has anchored itself as a mainstream aspect of business and will remain top-of-mind in the boardroom for years to come.  It has become central in terms of both attracting investors and holding a social license to operate.

The Chamber of Mines is determined to be a strong partner in nation building — one with a strong focus on social development, minimizing the impact of our operations on the environment, and ensuring a fair division of the economic and financial benefits of mining.

Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s chief finance officer, chief risk officer and chief sustainability officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla, the only winner from the Philippines as 2022 Sustainability Leader in the Women Leading Change Awards for Asia-Pacific.


And, speaking of ESG, my heartfelt congratulations to Chaye Cabal-Revilla, Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s indefatigable EVP, chief finance officer, chief risk officer and chief sustainability officer for being the only winner from the Philippines as 2022 Sustainability Leader in the Women Leading Change Awards for Asia-Pacific. None can be more deserving than Chaye in this regard. Padayon gud, Chaye!


My sincerest birthday greetings, too, to Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who celebrates his birthday today. Malipayong pagsaulog sa imong adlaw nga natawhan, Senator Bong! Amping!

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