Agata Best Practices “Inspire” DENR Executive and Delegates from the Caraga Region
In the midst of its preparations for commemorating Earth Day 2019, Agata personnel and stakeholders received an impromptu visit from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Ruth Tawantawan who came straight from the Central Office along with regional executives from DENR Caraga and its Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Surigao.
The team sought to witness firsthand Agata’s environmental management and mining operations as well as its best practices in fostering progress in the community. The company’s key officers led by General Manager Emilio T. Figueroa III were on-deck to receive the delegation and gave them a guided tour of the mine site.
A lasting impression
“You are doing great. I see team and quality management. We will tell the world that you are doing inspiring initiatives that would help change the bad perception about mining,” expressed ASec. Tawantawan upon touring the company’s mining areas, causeway and seeing its clear waters.
She further added that it sets the standard in the Caraga Region and in other parts in Mindanao, knowing full well that the company has been operating for only five years.
“I will encourage mining companies from Caraga and Eastern Mindanao to visit your site and replicate some of your best practices,” she said.
DENR-Caraga Assistant Regional Director Ben Ali T. Decampong also shared: “I first learned about Agata when I joined them in Baguio to receive their Presidential Award. So, upon returning, I decided to visit their mine site to personally see if what I heard is true. Now I could really say that what I have seen on the screen about Agata being a Presidential Awardee is more than true on the ground.”
Prior to receiving the delegation, Agata was commended by the MGB for achieving an “excellent performance” on its environmental activities, in compliance with its Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (AEPEP) and Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). The accolade came after the inspection of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT) – which the company completed consecutively with no negative findings and observations.
MGB Caraga Regional Director Glenn Noble also expressed: “’It is really possible,’ I said the first time I saw the waters in the causeway. Agata’s efforts sets an impressive level of mining operations and environmental management. It is indeed a best example in just five years of operations.” RD Noble currently heads the Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee and recognizes MMT inspection results.
On further improvements
Agata General Manager Emilio T. Figueroa III assured the 10-man delegation that “We always welcome visitors, especially from the government, as an opportunity to share our efforts and learnings – and most of all – to also receive suggestions for improvement.”
“Agata’s commitment is guided by its core philosophy of ‘starting it right and keeping the end in mind.’ It conducts progressive mining rehabilitation during mining operations. And while ‘greening’ its surroundings, it also incorporates thematic landscaping in mined-out areas. In the future, the mining facilities can serve as an educational, recreational and tourism site after its operations,” added GM Figueroa.
Aside from a peak employment of over 1,000, Agata also promotes better sustainable livelihood opportunities via its Mabakas Techno Demo Farm School. More than 1,200 students have been given scholarships by the country’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) – and who have undergone certificate training courses in organic farming.
The company likewise initiated the Community Resource Development Program (CRDP) to help its indigenous Mamanwa hosts invest their royalty share in sustainable livelihood activities such as agro-forestry, community stores and rice production, among others.
Waste management, segregation and upcycling initiatives involve the company, its contractors and the communities. Its surrounding barangays have been installed with Material Recovery Facilities while river and coastal clean-up activities are conducted regularly by both employees and residents as a way of sharing the responsibility.
Agata Mining Ventures Inc. is a joint venture of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. and MRL Nickel Philippines Inc. Last year, Agata followed its back-to-back awards in 2017 – the PMIEA-Platinum Award in Surface Mining and Best Mining Forest Award (2nd Runner Up) in Metallic Mining – with a Presidential Award in 2018 for advocating the industry’s highest safety and environmental standards.