RunRuno project an example of responsible mining compliance

By on March 13, 2018

By Marcelle P. Villegas

During a recent Philippine Mining Club Luncheon at I’M Hotel in Makati, Ian Holzberger discussed the RunRuno Gold- Molybdenum Project of FCF Minerals Corporation.

This is a project that is notable for practicing responsible mining in the best ways possible, following world-class standards and achieving very high compliance rate in many aspects.

Mr. Holzberger is the Executive Chairman of Metals Exploration PLC and President of FCF Minerals Corporation. He has over four decades of experience in the mining industry.

From 1997 to 2007, he was the Managing Director of Highlands Pacific Limited where he implemented the feasibility study on the Ramu nickel laterite project.

The Kainantu gold mine in PNG was also one his projects where he was responsible for the feasibility study, development, financing, construction and commissioning.

He is a member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Australian Institute of Geoscientists. He graduated from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney with a degree in BSc Geoscience.

RunRuno mining site is in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, 332 km or 200 miles north of Manila. Since the 1960s, the mine site is known to be rich in precious metals like gold.

The project started in 2004 where explorations for the next four years showed a potential of the project. In 2009, a concept study identified the development options and commercial viability.

By 2010, a feasibility study verified commercial viability based on 1.1 million ounces of recovered gold over 11-year mine life, capital estimate of USD180m +/- 10% costing. On the same year, the Environmental Compliance Certificate was issued.

In August 2011, the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) was issued.

Some of the challenges of the project includes the fake news promulgated by anti-mining interests, land occupancy disputes, changes of three Philippines presidents through the years, and more.

Another challenge mentioned was having to deal with excessive regulations from the government.

This refers to multiple departments who are regulating similar issues often from different perspective, and then having almost 500 active permits and additional requirements weekly.

There were also more than 50 audits, verifications, reviews and inspections by multiple departments.

The practice of responsible mining is not new to this project.

RunRuno was designed and built following the best practice including the use of world-leading technology. This involves continuous rehabilitation of used land area for the site.

RunRuno also uses a process that includes three pollution control devices to ensure chemical compliance within the plant.

They also have good employment practices with 1068 employees where 99% are Filipinos (70% residents of Nueva Vizcaya).

The project is compliant with ISO safety standards for employment conditions.

RunRuno operates with compliance to world-class standards and the project includes environmental initiatives, social and community programs.

Part of responsible mining is giving back to the community. FCF is committed to the protection and enhancement of the environment.

With that, they implement various environmental initiatives through the MEPEO Department which takes charge of the following operations:

  • Nursery Operations
  • Tree-cutting Permit Compliance Program, Mining Forest Program, Bio- Offsetting Program, NGP GHG donations
  • Rehabilitation of mined-out areas
  • Monitoring of environmental resources.

The FCF Central Nursery operation has a capacity of propagating around 100,000 seedlings. Components of this nursery includes vermicomposting, herbal or medicinal garden, agroforestry model farm, temporary wildlife rescue center, and elevated pot beds.

RunRuno also supports the National Greening Program (NGP) of DENR. A total of 1.7 million seedlings were donated to DENR within RunRuno area and even outside. The project is compliant with the tree cutting permit.

Currently, there is a total of 751 trees that were cut down from the Special Tree Cutting and Earth Balling Permits (STCP) No. 1 and No. 2.

Here is the deal – for every tree cut, there will be a replacement of 100 seedlings, thus a compliance obligation of 75,100 seedlings.

As of 31 May 2017, total seedlings planted and donated is 89,882.

This makes FCF Minerals as beyond compliance by 119%! The Mining Forest Program (MFP) of RunRuno resulted to the planting of forest trees and fruit-bearing trees on 98 hectares of land area.

RunRuno implements progressive rehabilitation of mined-out areas. For example, coco-mattings are used for soil profile areas before planting with fast-growing trees like napier and vetiver grasses. Vetiver grasses are excellent in preventing soil erosion, and a good source of vetiver oil which is a natural anti-mosquito agent.

RunRuno project involves regular inspection and maintenance of the rehabilitation areas to ensure erosion control and vegetation success. Furthermore, there is a weekly water quality and air and noise monitoring done by FCF Minerals.

SGS Philippines does a quarterly monitoring as well for the same testing parameters.

For more information about the Philippine Mining Club Luncheon, please visit

 Acknowledgement to Kevin Lewis for additional reference and photos for this article.


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