Earth Day 2019: Agata Maintains Critical Balance Between Business and Environment
Agata holds two-day celebration to promote environmental awareness with its stakeholders
A yearly tradition since its development stage in 2013 – and bringing operations on-stream the following year – Agata’s two-day commemoration of Earth Day 2019 was greeted with familiarity and anticipation by all its employees and contractors as well as the active involvement of Tinigbasan National High School students in its host municipality of Tubay.
As the company firmly established its reputation as a major supplier of nickel ore to Asia’s growing stainless steel industry, it also takes stock of the critical balance between its business objectives and the conservation of its natural environment for the sustainability of its communities.
While Agata is one of the newest players in the industry, it has successfully integrated social and environmental components into its business plan – testament that its philosophy of “starting it right and keeping the end in mind” is the right one.
To date, the company has planted close to 300 hectares with a forest density of over 1,000 trees per hectare. In addition to its inland stewardship, it maintains its coastline with thriving marine sanctuaries and relocated coral reefs situated near the shores of Tubay.
A seven-year tradition
Aptly-themed “Protect the Species,” day-long preparations for Agata’s Earth Day included forming seven different teams for the various competitions: song writing, dancing and talent portion that requires live performances.
The festivities were opened with a round of exercises called Earth Zumba, the traditional flag raising and ceremonial lighting of the torch. These were followed by the Mud Run, which started at Agata’s main gate and which required each team to overcome different obstacles across 3.5 kilometers – including one where all participants had to plant a tree near the final rehabilitation area located near the company’s causeway.
The morning activities culminated at the Agata Coastal Resource Management Office as the Tinigbasan students performed a cheering routine of their own.
The poster making contest and Quiz Bowl were rolled-out in the afternoon, followed by a dinner presentation that showcased each team’s environmental video entry. The company also provided cash prizes for the winning teams – money that it saved from its Material Recovery Facility – for upholding this year’s Earh Day theme and highlighting the importance of allowing wildlife to naturally thrive.
Agata’s Earth Day tradition is also in preparation for the Annual Regional Environment Month hosted by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for all mining companies in Caraga. For the past two consecutive years, the MGB hailed Agata as overall Champion in the regional competitions.
From the sidelines
“It was really an inspiration that though there is mining, their (Agata’s) intention to preserve the environment still continues. No wonder they are multi-awarded and still operational,” said Beatriz Apole, Grade 11 student and resident of Barangay Tinigbasan who saw the entire mine site during the Mud Run and while planting seedlings in the final rehabilitation area.
One of the participating teachers, Mrs. Christy Mandam, also observed that “People in Agata work according to the standard regulations of the government. We are fortunate to have this opportunity and relieved that a responsible mining company is in our community.”
The same commitment has been recognized by the country’s regulators – and which led to the company’s nomination to represent the Philippines in the upcoming ASEAN Mineral Awards later this year.
“We used to have simple Earth Day gatherings back then. But we make sure our stakeholders, contractors and the community join our efforts to protect the environment,” explained Agata Environment Manager Jesalyn Guingging.
The company’s efforts extends to over 317 hectares of reforested areas within its mine site. The Agata Nursery also has close to 400,000 seedlings on stock that can be used for reforestation activities at any given time. In addition, it has established a Non-Mist Clonal Facility dedicated to preserving endemic trees in mined-out areas.
Despite its lateritic soil, Agata’s successful reforestation efforts lies partly in its Agroland’s recycling facility, which produces soil ameliorants and vermi composting facilities that help promote vegetation. These organic agricultural initiatives put food wastes to good use and are part of the company’s “zero waste” program.
Agata is a joint nickel laterite project of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. and MRL Nickel Philippines Inc. operating in host municipalities Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte Province.