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European Union delegates visit RTNMC and CBNC

As part of the European Union – General Scheme Preference Plus (EU – GSP+) Monitoring Mission, EU delegates visited the project sites of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) located in Brgy. Rio Tuba, Bataraza Palawan on January 28, 2017.

On-board planes provided by the companies from Puerto Princesa City, the EU Mission delegates arrivedin the Rio Tuba Airport at around 0830H. The Mission was composed of Mr. Nikos Zaimis (Directorate-General for Trade, Mission Head), Mr. Guus Houttuin, Ms. Andrea Rossi, Mr. Andreas Houttuin, Mr. Julian Conthe, Mr. Thomas Weirsing, Ms. Ana Vukosavljevic, Mr. Walter Van Hattum, and Ms. Rose Ann Pamitan. They were accompanied by Mr. Jose Antonio S. Buencamino (Department of Trade and Industry – Philippine Trade and Investment Center,Brussels), Ms. Jollan Margaret A. Llaneza (DTI – BITR), and Mr. Percival Ladub (MGB-MIMAROPA). They were receivedby company officials and were later ushered to the COMREL Building in the RTN Townsite where a brief meeting/orientation was held.

The meeting started with Engr. Boy Masindo presenting the itinerary for the ocular inspection, followed by safety orientation. Engr. Carmelita Catacutan then gave an overview of RTNMC’s operation, including the implementation of environmental protection and enhancement activities, highlighting the awards bestowed on them by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association. Engr. Briccio T. Abela presented CBNC’s profile, processing technology (described as one of the world’s best) and environmental protection and enhancement activities being implemented, with emphasis on the bio-indicator projects as a measure of the effectiveness of theirenvironmental mitigating measures.Further, he explained of the benefits derived by the communities/IPs in the implementation of their rehabilitation efforts in Tailings Storage Facility 1 (TSF1). Similar to RTNMC, Engr. Abela crowedof the Presidential Mineral Industry Environment Award given to CNBC by the PMSEA for three (3) consecutive years. Mr. Bong Dela Rosa followed with the presentation of the companies’ social development programs.

After the meeting, the group headed to GP-4 where they were welcomed by Dr. Bibiano Ranes, a forester by profession,whois on top of the rehabilitation of mined-out areas in RTNMC. He discussed the techniques that were implemented, which proved to be successful as evidenced by the fauna re-colonization of the area.  

The group then proceeded to the decommissioned TSF1 of CBNC wherein Engr. Abelaexplained the methodologies in the revegetation of the 80-has. expanse of tailings storage containing soil with very high iron content and with no soil nutrient present. At the TSF1, he showed them the experimental plot aimed to duplicate the canopy of the nearby forest land, plantations of fruit bearing trees, ornamental plants, vegetables, etc.  and handicrafts that were made from pandan, which were planted and harvested in the rehab area.

The mine tour culminated with a tree planting activity at TSF1 wherein the delegates participated willingly. 

After the tour, a working lunch ensued between the Mission and the rest of the group with concerned stakeholders, namely: Punong Barangay Nelson D. Acob and other Rio Tuba barangay officials, Ms. Velma Cholipas of the Indigenous Peoples Development Organization (IPDO) and its officers;Mr. Ricardo Sanga of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP);Ms. Fe Peralta, President of the CBNC Labor Union; andMr. Ricardo Dela Torre, President of the RTNMC Labor Union.  The working lunch was set to enable the members of the Mission to discuss with the invited stakeholders their areas of concerns.

Last in the itinerary was a visit to So. Bongkol-Bongkol, a housing project of both RTNMC and CBNC in coordination with Gawad Kalinga, where they were serenaded by young kids, shownthe handicraft museum and treated with a festive dance by the women IPs. 

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The Philippines was accepted in the EU-GSP+ on December 18, 2014 through the initiative of the Department of Trade Industry. The purpose of the EU – GSP+ Monitoring Mission was to evaluate the Philippine Compliance to the 27 International Conventions on Human Rights, Labor, Environmental Protection and Good Governance, identified in the program. The said sites were particularly chosen by the Bureau of International Trade Relations (BTIR) as they have undergone and passed the DENR driven audit last August 2016.  

EU – GSP+ Monitoring Mission delegates welcomed by RTNMC and CBNC officials

 

 

Meeting at the ComRel Building

 

EU delegates on arrival at GP-4 where they were met by Dr. Ranes

 

Left photo:Engr. Abela explaining the rehabilitation conducted at TSF No.1;

Right photo: Handicrafts produced out of pandan harvested in the rehab area were being shown to

the EU delegates

 

Tree planting activity at the entrance of TSF No.1

Working lunch with various stakeholders

 

EU delegates being serenaded by the kids and

being treated to a festive dance at Sitio Bongkol - Bongkol