Seeing green in Philippine mining

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
Seeing green in Philippine mining
(From left) Carrascal Nickel Corp president Antonio Co; Philex Mining Corp’s president and CEO Engr. Eulalio Austin, Jr.; Nickel Asia Corp. chairman Gerard Brimo; the author; TVI Resource Development Phils., Inc. managing director Michael Regino; OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. president Joan Adaci-Cattiling; former Canadian ambassador to the Philippines and B2Gold director Neil Reeder; B2B Gold VP for Engineering and Project Evaluations Dennis Stansbury, Sr.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, or COMP, recently held its 19th annual Mining Philippines 2023 International Conference and Exhibition at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel.

This was the grand comeback that we had touted as early as March of this year, after a hiatus of around four years or so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s conference was bigger, bolder, and better than ever before!

This year’s conference theme was “Seeing Green: Shaping a Sustainable Minerals Development Industry.” With a focus on green and sustainable mining, the conference offered a platform for discussing the latest trends and innovations in the mining industry.

Over 300 delegates from around the world participated in the two-day conference, with top mining companies and suppliers showcasing their latest projects and prospects in the Exhibit Hall.

The conference hall itself was jampacked, as more people had registered than could be accommodated. If there was “revenge travel” and “revenge shopping” post-pandemic, this was definitely a case of “revenge attendance.”

Our first day opened with my welcome remarks and introduction of the keynote speaker, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, whose speech was read by Undersecretary Carlos Primo David, then a response from Australian Ambassador to the Philippines H.K. Yu.

The first session tackled “Optimizing opportunities: the global landscape of mineral development,” while the next session, after lunch, discussed “Project prospects: revving up the economic engine of Philippine mining.”

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual then delivered his keynote address, followed by Session Three on “Measuring the impacts of mining: Environmental, Ecological, and Economic Perspectives,” and Session Four on “Developing a Comprehensive Mining Roadmap: Integrating Upstream, Downstream, and Associated Technologies.”

First Pacific Co., Ltd. CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

The conference resumed the next day with a keynote from Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of First Pacific Co., Ltd., Session Five on “Leveraging ESG – Environment: the green mining transformation,” Session Six on “Leveraging ESG for social responsiveness,” Session Seven on “Leveraging ESG – Governance,” Session Eight on “Communicating the NUIEC Program,” and, finally, closing the conference with the hot industry topic of the day, a session which I also moderated, Session Nine on “Mining fiscal regime: ensuring growth and sustainability.”

COMP vice chairman Gerard H. Brimo delivered the closing remarks.

All in all, it was a most fruitful two days of discussions and synergy on why mining still remains a viable driver for economic recovery and national development if allowed to flourish.

In my welcome remarks, I mentioned, “The industry’s potential will grow even more over time. The government will only push for responsible and sustainable mining, not just the extraction of minerals per se, but also the implications of mining on the integrity of the ecosystem and on the likelihood and well-being of communities.”

In her speech, Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga said, “The Philippines can be in a unique position to be an essential player in the global clean energy market, providing sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. This demand for minerals comes when the mining sector is expected to help generate government income to bolster our economic recovery.”

For her part, Ambassador H.K. Yu said, “Our objectives aligned, I cannot think of a better duo than Australia and the Philippines. We have great opportunity here to go through this exciting pathway, hand in hand, exploring how things are working in both countries.”

Secretary Pascual also chimed in, saying, “Our country boasts an abundance of natural resources that promise both economic development and sustainable progress. There is a tremendous opportunity to use the extractive industry’s potential to propel long-term economic growth. Philippine companies have several opportunities in mining and mineral processing. Not just exploration of mineral resources and their extraction, but also green metals processing and other value-added downstream mineral activities.”

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

DENR Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh pointed it out succinctly: “Minerals and metals will play a key role in providing the raw materials needed for technologies. Their growth will alter demand patterns for upstream mining communities. We lead to a growing demand for a wide range of minerals and metals that result in significant opportunities for resource-rich countries such as the Philippines.”

Undersecretary David stressed, “SDMP (Social Development and Management Program) is a program unique to the mining industry and we should be very proud of it. More than that, not all mining countries have an SDMP program. This is something that we can claim as definitely a Philippine mining program.”

Chairman MVP said it all: “Mining is not the enemy, but poverty is. The most damaging myth in which our industry must contend with is the idea that we must choose between sustainability and mining. We should forge ahead together as one industry, in unity, in strength and do the right things for our people and for our planet.”

And, as a fitting close to the whole conference, from the closing remarks of Jerry Brimo: “The gradual easing of the mining policy environment under a supportive administration is something we are truly thankful for and will never take for granted. We are well aware of the responsibility tied to this renewed trust. As demand for minerals to feed the requirements of the energy transition increase, we shall remain steadfast in our resolve to help expand economic opportunities, promote social development, and protect the environment.”

I think these have driven the point so many times across.

My thanks to our Atty. Ron Recidoro, Rocky Dimaculangan, Jo, Au, Emi, Rev, Marge, and the rest of COMP, as well as members of the COMP Board of Trustees: Euls Austin of Philex Mining Corp., Atty. Dante Bravo of Platinum Group Metals Corp, Jerry Brimo of Nickel Asia Corp., Atty. Joan Adaci-Cattiling of OceanaGold (Philippines), Inc., Antonio L. Co of Carrascal Nickel Corp., Isidro Consunji of Berong Nickel Corp., Masahiro Kamiya of Sumitomo Metal Mining Philippines Holdings Corp., Joaquin Lagonera of Sagittarius Mines, Inc., Michael Regino of St. Augustine Gold and Copper, Ltd., Adrian Ramos of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., Horacio Ramos of Pacific Nickel Philippines, Inc., Bryan Yap of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., and Dennis Zamora of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp.


My heartfelt congratulations to Atty. Rico Domingo for receiving this year’s Presidential Award from the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA). Well deserved!

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