MANILA -- The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) on Thursday bared the composition of its Community of Interest (COI) advisory panel as the organization of the country’s biggest large-scale mining firms prepares to roll out Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) –a set of tools and indicators to drive performance and ensure that key mining risks are managed responsibly, and best practices are used at members’ facilities.
The TSM was established by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) in 2004 and adopted by COMP in 2017, making the Philippines the first in Asia to subscribe to this self-assessment system that is rapidly evolving into the global standard for best practices in sustainable mining.
COMP has made compliance with the TSM mandatory to all its members.
COMP chairman Gerard Brimo said the COI panel will “provide guidance and a place for robust discussions with COMP on current mining issues.”
“Its members –all with the necessary respect and credibility within their respective area of interest to be an authoritative voice on the panel– will advise COMP on the implementation of TSM and review TSM implementation results,” he said.
The COI advisory panel is composed of 12 regular members from various sectors and experts in related fields and three ex-officio members from the industry.
Panel members usually are not formal representatives of organizations within the COI categories.
The COI advisory panel members and the sectors they represent are:
• Rogelio Francisco Bantayan Jr., executive director, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – IP sector;
• Gov. Al Francis Bichara, Governor of Albay – local government;
• Carlos Primo David, professor of Geology and Environmental Science at the University of the Philippines (UP) National Institute of Geological Sciences - environment;
• Edwin Domingo, former OIC director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau – policy/technical;
• Cielo Magno, assistant professor, School of Economics, UP, and concurrent Civil Society Organization representative, International Board, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – CSO/academe
• Fr. Jerome Marquez, SVD, provincial superior, Society of Divine World and Canon Lawyer - religious;
• Lawyer Jose Mejia, partner at the Ligon Solis, Mejia, Florendo Law Firm and a member of the Judicial and Bar Council – legal;
• Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo School of Government and a senior fellow, East-West Institute – academe;
• Lieyzl Liton-Relleta, VP & project director, GAIA South Inc. and a member of Foresters League of the Philippines – forestry/environment;
• Gerard Seno, national executive vice president and national executive board member, ALU-TUCP – labor;
• Luchi Cruz-Valdes, head News and Information at TV5 – media;
• Alexis Benjamin Zaragoza III, partner at SGV & Co. – finance.
On the other hand, the ex-officio members of the COI advisory panel are Eulogio Austin, president of Philex Mining Corporation; Gloria Tan Climaco, chairperson of Filminera Resources Corp., and Brimo, who is also chairman and CEO of Nickel Asia Corp.
“TSM has a huge potential to improve the compliance of large-scale metallic mining companies with existing regulations of the country,” Magno said, describing COMP’s adoption of the self-assessment system.
“If implemented properly, it will improve transparency and accountability. With access to information, then over time, it will contribute to the improvement of public perception of mining,” she said.
She noted having an independent COI is important.
Magno said she is impressed by TSM's "principle of transparency and public disclosure of information".
"It's a clear framework that will cover huge aspects of mining, including biodiversity, water, among others. These are important features of TSM,” she added.
Meanwhile, Fr. Jerome Marquez said even Pope Francis cited that minerals are gifts of God and historically are being used by people.
“Mining per se is not evil, but rather mining is how we use what God has given us. This TSM COI advisory panel is a step towards the direction of using mining for the good of all,” he said.
“Mining is essential part of the development of a country. The extremes of mining are what we need to watch out for,” Marquez said.
“I think this TSM is a conversion to self-assess and to improve. This means that the industry recognizes the reality that it is not perfect and needs to change,” he added.
Marquez said TSM’s value of honesty is “very laudable”.
“Without honesty, all these assessment is nothing. Let us be honest to engage one another,” he said.
Apart from Canada and the Philippines, other countries that have adopted TSM are Finland, Argentina, Botswana, Spain, and Brazil.
South Africa, Indonesia, and Laos have expressed strong interest in adopting TSM as well. (PNA)