Rollout of int'l mining sustainability standard among miners completed

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), the group of some of the largest mining companies in the Philippines, is now ready to implement the localized version of Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM), an international mining sustainability standard adopted by miners in Canada and other countries.

In a statement, COMP said it already completed the rollout of TSM among its member firms in Luzon and the Visayas, following the program’s launching in Mindanao last month.

This is three years of substantial review of the program’s various components to assure applicability to conditions in the Philippines.

To recall, it was in 2017 when COMP reached an agreement with the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) for the adoption of the latter's TSM initiative.

This is the first time that TSM has been adopted by a mining association in Southeast Asia.

COMP is also the fourth national mining association outside of Canada to adopt TSM. Other national mining associations that are already currently implementing TSM include mining associations of Finland (FinnMin), Argentina (Cámara Argentina de Empresarios Mineros), and Botswana (Botswana Chamber of Mines). 

Implementation of the program is mandatory for all MAC members’ Canadian operations.

Like the Philippines, Canada is one of the highly mineralized countries in the world. In the North American country, mining contributes $97 billion to gross domestic product (GDP), while the sector's contribution to Philippine GDP only stands at merely US$3 billion.

Through TSM, COMP said it aims to drive its members’ environmental and social performance and ensure that key mining risks are managed responsibly, and best practices are used at members’ facilities nationwide.

Peter MacArthur, the Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, said when TSM was launched by MAC in 2004, the program “was the first mining standard to apply at the facility level, with public reporting, independent verification and civil society oversight".

"Today, TSM helps to ensure affected communities have the data they need to know nearby mines are being managed responsibly and safely for the overall public good," MacArthur said.

“A very important aspect of TSM is the way in which it incorporates civil society oversight through the Community of Interest Advisory Panel, which not only oversees the development and implementation of TSM, but also provides a dialogue table between the industry and civil society, resulting in an industry that is more aware and responsive to the views of communities,” he added.

COMP's deal with MAC came after President Rodrigo Duterte called for the local mining industry to follow Canadian and Australian standards.

“The pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte in the beginning of his term served as a wake-up call for the mining industry to adhere to international standards,” said Nonita Caguioa, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assistant secretary for mining concerns.

“In response the government has implemented new mining policies and strict environmental guidelines that are all geared towards the protection of the environment and the mining communities," she further said.

Caguioa also said that as the country is facing this global pandemic, "the government considers the mining industry as one of the primary measures for economic recovery”.

“This is an opportune time for the industry to adopt the TSM because sustainability should go hand in hand with economic growth," she added.

To be specific, a total of over 200 individuals representing the country’s biggest large-scale mining projects participated in the Luzon-Visayas and Mindanao TSM rollouts.