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Agata Corners Presidential Award, Heralds a New Hope for Philippine Mining
TVIRD’s Agata receives top honors at the mining industry’s annual safety and environment summit
Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (AMVI) – a nickel laterite joint venture company of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) and MRL Nickel Philippines – was honored with the prestigious Presidential Mineral Industry Environment Award at the recently-concluded 65th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference (ANMSEC) last November 20-23 in historic Baguio City.
Following 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 – the company bagged top honors for advocating the industry’s highest safety and environmental standards, as witnessed by delegates and dignitaries from all parts of the country and abroad.
Starting it right, keeping the end in mind
Double-Platinum awardee TVIRD operates the Agata Nickel Project in its 4,995-hectare Mineral Processing Sharing Agreement (MPSA) area that spans the adjacent municipalities of Tubay, Santiago and Jabonga in Agusan del Norte Province. JV partner MRL is likewise a decorated company during its exploration phase with two Presidential Awards under its belt.
Since bringing the project on-stream four years ago, it has been guided by the philosophy of “starting it right and keeping the end in mind,” according to Agata General Manager Engr. Emilio Figueroa III.
From this philosophy comes the strategic integration of the company’s front-end engineering, environmental management programs, social and community engagements, and health and safety initiatives that are all focused on leaving Agata a better place once mining has concluded.
Driven by this philosophy, the organization draws confidence from a unified “Commitment from the Top” – one that continues to empower and inspire its associates across the ranks to pursue the same strategic objectives and comply with the industry’s highest standards
In 2016, after a series of field validations conducted by Intertek Philippines, Agata obtained its ISO Certification and has consecutively passed succeeding surveillance audits, including the latest ISO 14001:2015 Certification.
“Despite vast challenges, we are proud to say that our state of unity has never been stronger,” said Figueroa.
“This is a win for every responsible miner who has done the heavy-lifting to rise above the irresponsible and the illegal practices that give the industry a bad name. This is a win for the associations and agencies that allow legitimate and inclusive mining operations to thrive.”
“And finally, at this most opportune time, this win heralds a new hope for clarity, understanding and the forthcoming revitalization of the Philippine mining industry,” he concluded.
As the world market for metals experienced a year-on-year decline in 2018, miners are hopeful that the mining fiscal regime approved by the House of Representatives will usher new mining projects that will allow the industry to grow at its true potential.
While Agata is one of the newest players in the industry, it has successfully integrated social and environmental components into its business plan, landing a Titanium Award during its first full year of operations.
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.
In terms of operations, the company’s mine plan is synchronized with progressive rehabilitation, environmental works and is aligned towards its final rehabilitation plan.
Earlier, Agata was also commended by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Caraga for achieving an “excellent performance” on its environmental activities. The accolade came after the inspection of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT) – which the company completed with no negative findings.
Changing the game
Agata likewise sustains a high level of performance in ensuring the safety and health of its communities as a safeguard for the future. The company maintains three (3) physicians who are ready to provide free medical services to over 1,000 on-site employees – majority from host and neighboring communities – their families and visiting patients from nearby barangays.
The company also established Community Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) comprised of 200 trained volunteers – which have been recognized by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office as a “game-changer” and was awarded the Gawad Kalasag National Award.
The teams are adequately trained to address community-based emergencies with Standard First Aid, Basic Life Support, and Mass Casualty Incident Management. They are likewise equipped for situations like oil spills and fire.
Constant emergency drills and activities are also conducted, generating almost 15 million safe man hours and zero Loss Time Accident (LTA) owing to stringent measures and an overall culture of safety.
Changing the face of mining
Agata continues to breathe life into TVIRD’s living legacy and has assumed full responsibility for its communities and the environment even before actual operations began.
On the global front, it has earned a solid reputation for being a steady supplier of nickel ore and furthering the Asian direct markets’ leadership in the world’s steel value chain. Locally, Agata’s corporate citizenship rests at the intersection of its business objectives and the needs of the community who are now testament that there is life after mining.
The former dump site that is now known as the Agata-supported Mabakas Techno Demo Farm has quickly evolved into a proving ground for future organic farmers. Established earlier this year, Mabakas is the only TESDA-accredited organic farm school managed by a mining company in the region.
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.
Life after mining
Agata’s Social Development Management Program (SDMP) has been 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 has established over 150 organic vegetable gardens in local households.
Along with its other established social enterprise, community livelihood programs in Agata have an estimated total commercial value of P12 million.
The SDMP is likewise aligned to Agata’s engagement through the Community Royalty Development Plan (CRDP) that transforms the Manobo and Mamanwa tribes’ Royalty Share into sustainable livelihood.
The CRDP has generated 11 Cacao Trainers who graduated from Mabakas and are certified by the Department of Agriculture. It also supports more than 300 indigenous students in both high school and elementary.
Agata is confident that its future-oriented programs will be sure to outlive the life of its mine. And as the Asian markets expect a favorable return in the foreseeable future, Agata continues to make a valuable social investment for a progressive mining community – all for their sustainable future.