Ensuring Environmental Protection: An Interview with Filminera’s Engineers
by Marcelle P. Villegas - November 05, 2019
By Marcelle Villegas
Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) is currently the largest operating gold mine in the Philippines. For the past years, Filminera greatly contributed in upgrading their host municipality of Aroroy from a fourth class into a first-class municipality. 
In order to fully understand the measures on how environmental protection is implemented in Filminera’s mining operation, we interviewed Mr Patrick Paul Mkonyi (AVP Technical Services), Mr Nikko Vanell Dolino (Senior Mining Engineer) and Ms Maureen Rapsing-Bien (Senior Environmental Liaison Officer, Environmental Department).
In the creation of an open pit mine and extraction of ore, the process involves transfer of waste rocks and soil materials to uncover the valuable mineral-bearing material called ore.
The waste materials are dumped strategically to form a landform called waste dump. The size of a waste dump is determined by stripping ratio of the designed pit -- the ratio of the volume of overburden required to be handled in order to extract a unit volume of ore.
Stripping ratio can also be expressed in terms tonnage – tonnes of waste to be handled in order to uncover a tonne of ore.
Mr Mkonyi explained, “You cannot have a mine without a waste dump. It is like having a house without a toilet. You need a space where you can dump the mined waste in order to access the ore, to give you the mineral that you are after. Therefore, waste dumps must be designed to last forever, that means it must be geotechnically stable.”
“Filminera waste dumps are well engineered, geotechnically tested and environmentally confirmed so it must conform with international engineering and geotechnical stability standards.”
How are designs checked to further ensure safety? “We have different third-party bodies that assist us with the designs. They cross-check our designs for the government to accept it,” said Mr Mkonyi. “All our waste dumps are geotechnically approved by third party, environmentally approved by third party and, also we have our in-house team that do the engineering and geotechnical work on much regular basis. Then, our Environmental Department takes over for rehabilitation.”
“We have different parameters for different waste dumps. Let us take Syndicate waste dump as an example. For this waste dump, we started building from the bottom up. We built from the base of the mountain, upwards, and we built in 10-meter lifts. Since we have potential acid rock drainage here, we altered our practice of construction. Instead of doing 10-meter lifts, we changed to 3-meter lifts (or 3-3-4) in order to make sure that the compaction is well-maintained to prevent acid rock drainage to occur.”
Filminera’s Senior Mining engineer, Mr Nikko Vanell Dolino, manages the activities from groundbreaking to the closure of the waste dumps.
“It all starts with area selection,” Mr Dolino explained. “We generally pick an area in which it would be advantageous for creating a waste dump, with lesser disturbance on the environment. Once an area is selected, we make sure that we follow the environmental laws and the standard best practices.”
“When you disturb a vegetation, there are expected silts that will be washed away by running water when it rains. Therefore, we first create sedimentation ponds and other measures that would control siltation and make sure that it does not go to nearby water bodies.”
“Initially, the materials to be dumped will first undergo sampling and testing for potential acid generation. Materials with high percentage of potential acid generation will be placed at the core of the dump. We and our third-party consultants make sure that these materials are isolated in order to prevent leaching.”
Mr Dolino added, “Once we start building these lifts, we also place some controls or testing sites so that even though we have completed the dump site, we are still constantly monitoring the dump from these sites in order to determine chemical reactions that might be taking place within the dump.”
The whole process is done in repetitive checking and in stages. Mr Dolino explained that upon finishing a 20-meter lift, they now proceed with rehabilitation of the slope. The rehabilitation process takes place concurrently with the construction of the dump. This is called Progressive Rehabilitation, and is handled by the Environmental Department.
The Senior Environmental Liaison Officer of the Environmental Department, Ms Maureen Rapsing-Bien, explained progressive rehabilitation. “In a mine site, the disturbed area at the end of the mine life must be rehabilitated or revegetated. This is required by the law. While the operation is ongoing, we start rehabilitation right away [on the portions where mining or construction is finished]. The advantage of progressive rehabilitation is that the end cost of operation is lower because it is done gradually, rather than spending on the whole rehabilitation stage at the last part of the operation.”
She added, “When it comes to environmental protection, almost all companies do the same system such as waste management, water management, land rehabilitation, and others.
They just differ in the implementation.”
Moreover, Mr Dolino added, “It takes time for the plants and trees to grow after revegetation. Thus, gradual revegetation is a smart way to manage time. While we are still working on some portions of the waste dump, somehow the completed spots of the waste dump already have growing trees and plants on it. Revegetation also increases stability of the waste dump.”
“Also, since we are still working on the site while some portions are being rehabilitated, in case of failure in the design, at least the company is still there to immediately rectify it.”
Mr Dolino explained that once they have reached the final layer of the dump, they place a cover that isolates the highly potential acid forming materials. “We have a 20-meter cover of good material (or non-acidic materials), then we revegetate the surface.”
Mr Mkonyi stated, “The final cover must be engineered to meet geotechnical and geochemical criteria. The main purpose is to make sure that it encapsulates the potential acid forming material within the dump by allowing a saturation layer (porous layer) of material within the dump that stops oxygen from reaching the potential acid-forming material that forms the core of the dump.”
“Excessive saturation of the material may cause instability to the dump, so it must allow some drainage to take place, thus we engineered the cover design for to meet this criteria.
We've constructed one on the Syndicate waste dump and we are still testing its performance. The Syndicate cover was designed by a third party consultant in collaboration with a well-known professor from the University of Alberta, Canada. The consultant visits twice a year to test the performance of the cover. So far, we have achieved very good results.
More samples have been sent to the University of Queensland in Australia for more testing.”
On the strict protocols on how to ensure safety during the construction of a waste dump, Mr Mkonyi said, “We have procedures on site and in case we identify a procedure that does not cover all aspects of the activity to be performed, then we supplement the procedure with a tool called Job Safety and Environmental Analysis (JSEA). Safety is our No.1 priority so we don't expose our people to risk. We also have people who review all our safety measures and approve them. So it starts from the level of supervisor, superintendent and mine manager, and lastly to resident manager.”
The capacity of the Syndicate waste dump is approximately 10 million cubic meters of waste. It was completed in 2018 and it took about three years to construct.
According to Mr Dolino, “A waste dump is limited to the maximum height that we can stockpile material. It is usually determined by how much waste material is excavated from the pit. We start with the numbers and then we translate it into a design that can contain volume excavated from the pit.” This refers to the stripping ratio.
During the construction of the Syndicate waste dump, they encountered heavy rains. Mr Mkonyi relayed that at the start of the operation, they had one torrential rain in December 2015 that eroded part of the access that they were constructing. “The effect was not that severe. We were able to control that.”
Mr Dolino added, “It was a good thing that we anticipate events like this so we can come up with controls or measures to prevent the worst from happening.”
On responsible mining, Mr Mkonyi stated, “Being a mining engineer, you might think I am biased, but for me mining is everything, but you have to do it responsibly. If you look around, everything we see, everything we use are mostly from mining. It is how you practice mining that may make it look good or bad, but for us in MGP, we are a responsible mining company. We look after the community around us. We have certifications and we are being monitored. We pass the assessments.”
 Filminera Resources Corporation Corporate Brochure 2019
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Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021
TVIRD-Agata COVID-19 Response Brings Relief to 10,000 Families, Livelihood to Rural Farmers
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines – that brought the nation’s economy to a virtual standstill and left thousands confined to hospitals, stricken with the deadly virus – communities in Mindanao have benefitted from an unexpected partner that immediately and actively responded to the government’s call to unity: and that is the country’s mining industry, which continues to support countrywide development.As of this writing, the industry has realigned some Php247 million of its collective Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) funds to provide relief for thousands of Filipinos in and around mining communities and close to 70,000 frontliners across the country.Immediate responsePrior to the realignment of SDMP to support relief operations, TVIRD’s Agata Mining Ventures Inc. already dispatched various Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) from Manila as part of its immediate response to the needs of medical frontliners in the Mindanao region. TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) has facilities in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte; Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur; and the adjacent municipalities of Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte Province where its Agata Nickel Project is located.To date, the TVIRD Group of Companies has shored-up critical PPEs: N95 face masks, face shields and surgical and examinations gloves to support COVID-19 frontliners, including LGUs, volunteers, medical workers, police and civilian volunteers as well as checkpoint personnel. It likewise sourced majority of its fresh vegetable from farmers and other goods from local establishments to provide relief to more than 10,000 families in its respective areas. The group’s joint relief efforts aim to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has reached some 46 barangays consisting of its primary and secondary communities.Supporting local livelihoodWhile an estimated one million jobs have been “lost” as a result of the nationwide community quarantine, the challenges of a lockdown are even more pronounced in the hinterlands where a single day of lost livelihood can make or break agricultural and fishing communities who rely on their daily access to the market place. This is in addition to the challenge of putting food on their own tables for their families everyday.Agata sought to bridge this need by sourcing organic vegetables from its TESDA-certified Mabakas Farm School and its graduates under the program. Together with its beneficiary farmers, locally-sourced ampalaya (bitter gourd), kalabasa (squash), okra, sitaw (string beans) and eggplants were included in relief packs – which were distributed to 2,647 families in its three host municipalities.Recipients also included the company’s employees in the mine site and the indigenous Mamanwas who are themselves farmers who would have otherwise faced the risk of spoilage of their produce due to ECQ restrictions on transportation. Over 11,000 kilos of assorted vegetables were included in more than 5,200 relief and vegetable packs distributed by the company – a testament that its production model under the Mabakas framework is sustainable. TVIRD likewise rolled-out a weeklong food distribution program and reached-out to almost 7,424 families in the Zamboanga Peninsula. The company’s site personnel and officers sought to alleviate the residents’ difficulties by providing rice, vegetables, canned goods and noodles.Special attention was also given to the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) since they are limited to their homes under the GCQ Protocol. Beneficiaries also include nearly 1,400 Subanen families and farmers from Bayog Municipality whose produce are included in the relief packs. Frontliners in Zamboanga PeninsulaThrough its Balabag Office, TVIRD contributed several boxes of PPEs to major government hospitals, rural health units and birthing clinics in the Zamboanga Peninsula region.Beneficiary institutions include the Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Hospital, Wilfredo C. Palma Memorial Hospital in Diplahan, Rural Health Units (RHU) in the joint provinces, Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Hospital in Pagadian City, and Siocon District Hospital – which also serves patients from its 26 barangays and nearby Sirawai and Baliguian towns.“TVIRD backs the government’s campaign against the disease. We are one with the frontliners – and providing them with protection and food is our way of sharing their load,” said TVIRD Balabag Project Manager Engr. Hilario Gingo, Jr.As the first company to be licensed under the Philippine Mining Law, TVIRD established its presence in the Zamboanga Peninsula some 25 years ago and has since fostered a deep relationship with its communities, especially the Subanon and Subanen tribes. The commercial operations of Agata marks the third consecutive project that TVIRD brought on-stream in a period of 10 years. Today, TVIRD-Agata has cultivated strong and resilient communities, self-sustaining indigenous hosts tribe and over 1,300 graduates from its Mabakas Organic Farm School who are aligible for TESDA National Certification.“‘Starting it right and keeping the end in mind’ has guided the company in achieving sustainable operations focused on progressive and final rehabilitation. By providing skills and infrastructure, we endeavour that our communities can sustain themselves beyond the life of the mine,” according to Agata Assistant GM Anthony Quijano.
Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021
Taganito Mining Donates 7k Workbooks for Surigao Del Norte
As part of its commitment to support the education sector, Nickel Asia Corporation subsidiary, Taganito Mining Corporation, donated 7,172 workbooks to the provincial government of Surigao del Norte, in time for the opening of classes. The Php 2 million worth set of English and Mathematics workbooks is part of the company's Social Development and Management Program. The turnover of workbooks was led by TMC Resident Mine Manager Artemio Valeroso in the presence of Governor Francisco Matugas and Dr. Nelia Lomocso, the schools division superintendent of the Department of Education for Siargao, Surigao del Norte Division. In a certificate signed by Gov. Matugas, he thanked TMC “for the wholehearted support in the various undertakings of the Provincial Government which has been instrumental in the success of the Education Caravan School Year 2020-2021”.“NAC-TMC is one with the province of Surigao del Norte in helping our schools become ‘back-to-school ready,” said Valeroso“We are very happy and very thankful. We sincerely thank the Taganito Mining Corporation for this great donation. This will go a long way. The workbooks will be for the benefit of our learners in the island paradise of Siargao,” Lomocso said. Since 2015, TMC has been a partner of the province in the annual Education Caravan wherein various educational supplies such as books, bags, and health kits were distributed to students in Surigao del Norte as well as Siargao island.
Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021
Washing Worries Away with TMC’s Hand Washing Facilities
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed schools all over the country to implement measures to reduce the risk of contracting the virus among students, teachers, parents and the community as a whole. In solidarity with this effort, Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) volunteered to provide hand washing facilities to 29 schools within Claver, Gigaquit and Surigao City as part of its Social Development and Management Program.A total of 52 hand washing units were distributed to public elementary and high schools to support efforts to encourage frequent hand washing as a way to protect oneself from the COVID-19 virus. Rendering support during the yearly opening of classes has been an annual commitment of TMC to the education sector. While schools have turned to online and modular learning modes, teachers still have to report to school and parents need to pick up and submit accomplished modules of their children. Thus, as with other establishments, schools are required to install hand washing facilities at their entry points.Aside from donating to schools, TMC also gave out hand washing facilities to the local government units of the Municipality of Bacuag, barangays Binacoran and Villa Riza in Municipality of Malimono, and the Philippine Red Cross - Surigao del Norte Chapter.“They say, friendship is essentially a partnership…Thank you so much NAC- Taganito Mining Corp. For these two sets of Portable hand washing facility […] Quezon ES will be forever grateful to you.” – Ms. Maricar Tabacon Lisondra, teacher, Quezon Elementary School“Panatao Elementary School teaching staff, parents, and learners would like to thank Taganito Mining Corporation for the Improvised hand washing facility given to the school. Thank you so much for your continuous and never-ending support to our school.” - Ms. Judith S. Pere, Principal, Panatao Elementary School“Thank you so much Taganito Mining Corporation for sharing another blessing to Claver National High School. We, faculty and staff, learners and parents, are so grateful for your generosity.” - Rodelio Cortez, teacher, Claver National High School
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Philippine Resources - May 23, 2023
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT SIGNED WITH TVI RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT (PHILS.) INC.
Photo credit: TVI Resource Development The Board of RTG Mining Inc. is pleased to announce that a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding issues with the Villar Family controlled Sage Capital and TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (“TVIRD”) has been reached and a binding Memorandum of Agreement signed. On execution of the final documents, expected in the next month, all litigation that RTG had launched will be withdrawn as part of an agreed restructuring of the Mabilo Project. The Villar Family is one of the most prominent families in the Philippines and RTG is pleased to partner with them in the development of the Mabilo Project, which is a significant mining project for the country. The key terms of the agreement for RTG include the following: RTG (through SRM Gold Limited) will retain a 40% interest in Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation (“Mt. Labo”) with the project also developed by Mt. Labo, in line with Philippine regulatory requirements, with Sage Capital (which is owned by TVIRD) holding the remaining 60%; RTG will have a 2% net smelter royalty (“NSR”); RTG’s debt together with interest, currently in the order of US$27M (subject to audit) will be repaid out of the proceeds of Stage 1 of the project, the Direct Shipping Operation subject to customary requirements to address liquidity and ongoing operations of Mt. Labo; Funding arrangements for the project as between the major shareholders of Mt. Labo have been successfully renegotiated, (relieving RTG of a sole funding obligation) and replaced with a pro-rata funding obligation, together with a disproportionate funding obligation of Sage Capital, as set out below; With debt repayments in full and the NSR, RTG will be entitled to approximately 57% of the proceeds of Stage 1, the Direct Shipping Operation; RTG will be entitled to 40% of the operating cashflow of the project, together with the 2% NSR and repayment of its debt, which is currently in the order of US$27M; The first US$5M of expenditure for Mt. Labo (or 12 months of expenditure, whichever occurs the earlier), will be funded pro-rata between the two shareholders (ie RTG will provide 40%) and thereafter, Sage Capital/TVIRD will sole fund the next US$5M of expenditure, with all additional funding thereafter to be provided on a pro-rata basis; All parties are required to act in the best interests of the project and not compete; A shareholders’ agreement will be finalised which will provide typical minority interest protection clauses including reserve matters for voting including annual budgets and appointments of key personnel; Any disputes will be resolved by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre; and On completion of final signed documents, all litigation matters will be withdrawn and settled in full. With the restructuring of the Mabilo Project now agreed, over the balance of this year, the remaining permitting matters and financing plans will be finalised, a review of the 2016 Feasibility Study will be completed, together with finalising the acquisition of surface rights, following which, a commitment to development will be formalised by the Board of Mt. Labo. RTG is pleased with the outcome of the discussions and the co-operative and constructive approach adopted by the Villar Family representatives. RTG believes they can be a strong and positive partner to work with to take the Mabilo Project forward, with both a near term development and future exploration activities to expand the project, which will start to unlock the value of the project for all stakeholders, not only the local communities but for the country as a whole.
Philippine Resources - May 22, 2023
Mining Operational Excellence Through Digital Transformation
Part 1: Mining Operation Challenges and Mine Operations Management Domains 1 & 2. By Mae Ann Cabasag, EM Mining companies encounter numerous challenges throughout their operations. However, initiatives to mitigate these challenges and improve efficiency are often limited. Most of these limitations emanated from a common factor: the challenge of “poor visibility” in mining operations. A viable solution is to adopt digital transformation in mining operations by incorporating available real-time data into an integrated system— capable of ensuring automatic updates and reliable source of information. Through this, mining companies not only understand simulations and plans developed but also anticipate potential outcomes. Various mining industry analysts have found that using non-digital methods in the mining operations can lead to a 27% reduction in production time and 25% increase in data inaccuracy. For a mining company to remain competitive in an industry susceptible to operation challenges, i.e. production processes, workers’ and equipment performances, ore quality and quantity, compliance to regulations, and inter-departmental collaboration, it needs to embrace digital transformation. Dassault Systèmes Mine Operations Management provides transformative digital solution for mining companies to achieve excellence in their operations. Mine Operations Management (MOM) equips mining companies with an integrated system for their mining operations, enabling them to achieve efficient plan and schedule. This system integrates entire operation data into a single repository source of information, known as the “single source of truth”, ensuring complete transparency of the company’s processes from mine to port. By leveraging MOM, we can address the following global mining industry challenges: Maintaining competitiveness amidst market volatility. Eliminating waste materials, poor communication, and error duplication. Improving site productivity and efficiency. Utilizing assets and sharing best practices across the value chain. Ensuring an utmost level of safety. Reducing environmental impacts and achieving sustainable operations. The transformative digital solution, Mine Operations Management, is composed of eight work packages, split across four domains, namely: Data Management, Material Reconciliation, Operational Control, and Assets Performance. These domains help generate valuable insights from integrated operational data for rapid and informed strategic decision-making. The Data Management consists of Master Data Model and Integration Framework packages essential for material tracking, stockpile management, task and workforce management, machine performance, and asset maintenance. It enables users to manage master data objects such as Site, Material, Location, Equipment, and Operator through manual data entry or third-party source systems. With this, mining companies can ensure efficient and integrated management of critical data required for seamless operations. Material Reconciliation, on the other hand, consists of Material Tracking and Stockpile Management packages. Material Tracking enables us to track material movements across different stages, i.e. from the least accurate grade estimated in geological model to the most precise information on shipped material quantity and quality, to account for any inaccuracies. While in the Stockpile Management, users not only can calculate daily stockpile balance, add Survey or Sampling data, analyze inventory levels and trends, create graphical representation of the stockpile balances and movements, calibrate stockpile using volumetric survey and sampling, enables comparison of different models, track movement genealogy and review stockpile slices for stockpiles with LIFO and FIFO calculation type but can create a different type of analysis such as actual vs plan vs model. In the upcoming article, we will explore the two remaining domains of Mine Operations Management to where assigning operational tasks, tracking compliance to plan, monitoring equipment down to workers’ performance are feasible in the mining operations. To know more about MOM, mining innovations and solutions, contact Dassault Systèmes Value Solutions Partner: Paramina Earth Technologies Inc. through email@example.com References: Make it happen for mine execution excellence: Dassault Systèmes®. MEGATrends. (n.d.). https://events.3ds.com/make-it-happen-for-mine-execution-excellence Dassault Systèmes. (2021, August 12). Digging deeper: The virtual solution for Mining Operational Excellence. Dassault Systèmes. https://discover.3ds.com/virtual-mining-operational excellence dassault3ds. (2022, June 16). The mining industry needs to adapt, but how? Dassault Systèmes blog. https://blog.3ds.com/brands/delmia/the-mining-industry-needs-to-adapt-but-how/
Philippine Resources - May 22, 2023
Customer’s First Choice: Sandvik Philippines Delivers 11th and 12th Pantera DP1500i Drills to Filminera Resources Corporation
Sandvik Philippines has successfully commissioned and delivered to loyal customer Filminera Resources Corporation (“Filminera”) their 11th and 12th Pantera DP1500i Top-hammer Surface Drills last 25 January 2023 at the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) located in Masbate Island, Philippines. Photo shows Sandvik Technician Larry Lugnas (second from left) and Service Operations Manager Jorge Cabello (third from left) handing over the drills to MGP representatives. Located 360 km southeast of Manila, the Masbate Mine is operated by Filminera, the Philippine subsidiary of TSX- and NYSE-listed B2Gold with headquarters in Vancouver. In 2022, the mine produced a record-setting 212,728 oz of gold out of 7.93M tonnes of ore milled at an average grade of 1.11 g/t. B2Gold also operates the Fekola Mine in Mali and the Otjikoto Mine in Namibia. Their projects under development include the Anaconda Area in Mali and the Gramalote JV Project in Colombia. The Masbate Mine started operating in 2008 initially using 4 x Atlas Copco ECM660 Drills owned and operated by the erstwhile mining contractor, Leighton. When the opportunity for re-fleeting came about in 2012, Sandvik succeeded in winning the tender which came packaged with a full maintenance contract for 24,000 service meter hours of five years. Ironically, the said maintenance contract almost led to the cancellation of the order for the first 4 x DP1500i due to a dispute with the rates. Eventually, both Leighton and Sandvik were able to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement, and Sandvik ran the service contract for five years without incurring penalties in the availability guarantees. The contract was so profitable, Sandvik even had to share some of the residual profit at the end with Filminera under the pain-and-gain proviso of the contract. The next re-fleeting opportunity came in 2017, with the Masbate Mine. This time, there was no service contract attached to the equipment and Leighton was no longer the mining contractor; the mine has shifted to owner-miner operation. Sandvik managed to secure the repeat order for another batch of 4x DP1500i, banking on the proven performance and reliability of the first four. That brings the total to 8 units. Drill numbers 9 and 10 were ordered in July 2020 and delivered in 2021. Numbers 11 and 12 in the photo above were ordered in January 2022 and are now handed over to the customer. Filminera ordered two more DP1500i’s in November 2022; these machines are now awaiting completion in Tampere, for delivery later this year. That should bring the total to 14 x DP1500i units spread over 11 years for our most loyal Pantera DP1500i customer in the Philippines – Filminera Resources Corporation!
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