TVIRD’s Agata Nickel Laterite Project marks end of an era after 382 shipments and nine years of operation
Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (AMVI), a joint venture nickel laterite project of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) and MRL Nickel Philippines Inc., recently concluded its 382nd and final shipment of nickel ore onboard MV Haut Brion last August 17. Beyond business, Agata marks the conclusion of its nickel project with its world-class environment, safety and health and social development programs as well as IEC campaigns that continue to successfully engage its host communities.
“As far as the TVIRD in the Philippines goes, Agata has achieved exactly what it promised – and that is to expand our foothold in the local extractives industry and land our mining group on higher ground,” said Managing Director Michael G. Regino. “Agata is a landmark project for our group. It allowed us to achieve our business objectives while fulfilling our social commitments to our host communities. But most of all, it made us true stewards of Tubay, Santiago and Jabonga Municipalities’ natural environment.”
Environmental excellence and mine safety
The company has been conferred with multiple national and international awards through the years and has maintained a solid reputation – not only as a steady provider of nickel within the global steel value chain – but also as one of the most responsible mining operators in the country, especially in the meticulous implementation of its progressive rehabilitation program to ensure the sustainability of its environment.
“I am deeply thankful for all the efforts everybody spent through the years for making Agata already a name in the [mining] industry”, General Manager Emilio T. Figueroa III, expressed his gratefulness to everyone involved in the Agata project during his speech at the AMVI’s Thanksgiving Celebration. “One of my favorite mottos in Agata is ‘inspiring change’. Agata may be small compared to other mines, but we made a significant change in the industry. We started the best practices that other mining companies are starting to emulate as Agata became their benchmark that sparked a movement in the entire industry —and this is not a small feat, it is a big thing to teach others our best practices, but for other mining companies to follow in our footsteps means that Agata is not only leaving a lesson, but a legacy for the Philippine mining industry.”
After receiving its first Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) recognition as the Safest Exploration Runner-Up in 2014, Agata became one of the youngest mining projects to be awarded the PMIEA Titanium Achievement Award during its first full year of operations in 2015 – the same honor it would also receive the following year.
In the succeeding years, Agata went on to corner the 2017 PMIEA Platinum Achievement Award, and two more successive Presidential Mineral Industry Environment Awards, namely: the PMIEA-Platinum Award in Surface Mining, and Best Mining Forest Award (2nd Runner Up) in Metallic Mining — top honors for advocating the industry’s highest safety and environmental standards.
In 2019, Agata won an ASEAN Mineral Award under the Metallic Minerals Distribution Category – its first international recognition conferred in Thailand.
Finally, Agata ended its last full year of operations in 2022 with a third Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA), once again feted with the country’s highest distinction for exceptional environmental performance, and safety & health practices.
Business and social
During its operations, Agata was able to accomplish a solid business track record. Despite market uncertainty, the company has managed to navigate the minerals market quite well, as evidenced by its consistent shipment history even during the global COVID-19 pandemic. From the start of operations in August 2014 until August 2023, over 165 shipments of Limonite ore and 217 shipments of Saprolite ore were exported to its direct Asian markets – all these, without compromising the integrity of its natural environment.
The company also invested heavily in its communities through the establishment of an agroforestry plantation, poultry and livestock facilities, furniture and handicraft production and fishing equipment. It also has more than 130 TESDA-certified farmers and established over 150 organic vegetable gardens in local households.
The SDMP is likewise aligned to Agata’s engagement through the Community Royalty Development Plan (CRDP) which transformed the Manobo and Mamanwa tribes’ Royalty Share into sustainable livelihood. The CRDP generated locally certified Cacao Trainers who graduated from the Mabakas Techno Demo Farm – the only TESDA-accredited organic farm school managed by a mining company in the region – and which has over 5,000 graduates to date. It also supports more than 300 indigenous students in both high school and elementary.
To date, there are more than 35 hectares planted with Cacao within Agata’s MPSA while more than 20 hectares have also been established by the indigenous Manobo-Mamanwa Tribe for Cacao production.
Right from the start
Agata’s successful conclusion of its mining operations and the commencement of its final rehabilitation program validates that its core philosophy of “starting it right, keeping the end in mind” is the right one. This same philosophy drove its employees across the ranks to commit themselves to planting close to 600,000 trees as part of the company’s progressive rehabilitation during Agata’s operations.
It is confident that its self-sustaining communities will continue to thrive long after mining is done.
It is likewise certain that Agata’s natural environment will continue to flourish under its Agricultural and Eco-tourism framework – testament that a project started right will always have a sustainable future.