Responsible and sustainable mining practices of the MIMAROPA minerals industry took spotlight in the inaugural #MineResponsibility MIMAROPA Stakeholders’ Forum: The Future is Mine, September 16-17, via the Zoom platform and Facebook Live.
Spearheaded by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) MIMAROPA Region, this two-day forum gathered key industry players, government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, private sector, academe, and the media to tackle the pressing issues and concerns in mining in the MIMAROPA Region.
This maiden stakeholders’ forum under the #MineResponsibility unified information, education, and communication campaign covered discussions by resource persons from the MGB MIMAROPA Region, mining companies, and partner agencies and institutions on topics concerning environmental protection and enhancement; combating illegal mining activities through Hotline 8888 and other mechanisms; protection and sustainable development of mine workers, mining communities, and indigenous peoples; and communicating the benefits of the minerals industry.
In her speech, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary for Finance, Information Systems and Mining Concerns Nonita Caguioa reiterated that effective communication is the key to spread the positive impacts of mining, citing how the industry has been adhering to environmental protection guidelines, occupational safety standards for its employees, and reaching out to some of the needs of its host and neighboring communities.
“I encourage mining companies to be more committed in mining responsibly and to be one with this campaign (#MineResponsibility) through sharing their good practices, efforts, and innovations, if any, in any stage of their corresponding mining operations,” Asec. Caguioa said.
“It is our utmost responsibility to mine responsibly,” she added.
Meanwhile, MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano recognized how the forum creates an opportunity for greater interaction between all stakeholders and the government.
“As always, this government will ensure that mining will take place with a strong focus on the environment and on the interest of all stakeholders,” Dir. Moncano assured forum participants.
For his part, MGB MIMAROPA Regional Director Glenn Marcelo Noble pointed out the need to recognize that more still needs to be done in raising awareness and encouraging public participation in conversations about mining and what this industry means for them.
“That when we open these conversations, we — regulators, key industry players — must remember where our stakeholders are coming from — what they need and have to know about the sector, what are their apprehensions, what has been done to address, if not, mitigate the impacts of the sins of the past that have been haunting us all these years,” RD Noble said.
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples MIMAROPA Regional Director Marie Grace Pascua also emphasized that indigenous peoples are not just mere beneficiaries, but partners for development in the mining industry.
According to RD Pascua, “the challenge is how to make an inclusive business model wherein the rights of the indigenous peoples are respected, they are recognized, they are promoted and protected.”
As the agency tasked to “ensure the balance between the mining industry and environmental protectionism,” Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Executive Director Teodoro Jose Matta assured that they are “as responsible and accountable as that of mining companies in protecting the Palawan biosphere and shall continue to improve over time.”
The PCSD chief also bared how they have already revised their rules to “make conservation more flexible,” such as prescribing land restrictions from 0 to 500 meters elevation to “retake lost ground from mining, agriculture, and kaingin”; and requiring municipalities all over Palawan to produce 2,000 new hectares of restricted zones for reforestation and rehabilitation.
To conclude the two-day forum, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Maria Lourdes Ferrer stressed that amid the negative publicity, there is indeed a need to beef up efforts to convey the benefits of the industry and strengthen engagement with the communities, especially the indigenous peoples.
Launched in 2019, the #MineResponsibility campaign aims to spread awareness on the best practices of the mining industry towards attaining sustainable mineral development in the country through responsible mining.
The Facebook live session of the two-day forum can be accessed through the following links:
Day 1 session: https://fb.watch/874d5-KnEv/
Day 2 session: https://fb.watch/874eJxD5HI/