Valuable partner

Published March 19, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

Whenever I hear the word mining, what comes to mind is the documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth,” a campaign project of former US vice president Al Gore to educate and make people aware of global warming.

For us here in the Philippines, we have our very own environmentalist. Unfortunately, she’s no longer here as she was fetched by her angels nearly two years ago. Gina Lopez, former DENR (department of environment and natural resources), was a staunch advocate of protecting  mother earth. 

I admire Ms. Gina. Given a chance, she would lecture about the destruction from mining operations. She has no qualms. She possessed all the guts to face head-on mining companies that are non-compliant to their social responsibility of protecting and supporting the communities around their areas of operation.

It’s no wonder, I developed a certain bias on mining firms. This prejudice holds until my e-conversation with FCF President and Chief-Executive-Officer Darren Patrick Bowden. It’s a good story to share. 

This British-based firm operates a gold-molybdenum project in Barangay Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya. FCF is “committed to the environment, thus implementing reforestation programs, rehabilitation and slope stabilization, waste management program and regular noise, air and water monitoring.”

 And in compliance with its social responsibility, FCF has been assisting the residents of the communities to overcome the impact of the pandemic. “Through the years, FCF has remained a valuable community partner by providing various programs, projects and activities.”

These include infrastructure development, livelihood projects and support, skills training, education which includes compensating elementary and high school teachers and day care volunteers, health programs as well as development assistance such as access roads, hanging bridges, drug store, community clinic and day care centers among others.

As I listened, I was still a bit skeptical with thought balloon: Seeing is believing. But since travel is not quite my luxury at the moment, Mr. Darren walked me through the progress of the once lethargic but quaint municipality. It has risen from stupor.

 “A wide range of local business opportunities result from increased consumer spending by employees and indirect employment, the supply of local goods and services to the mine, and the increased local government budgets for infrastructure and services to the community.”

Accordingly, the project opens up more opportunities not only for the local economy but in turn to the national level. In terms of taxes, for this year Mr. Darren disclosed FCF remitted a total of P350.6 million in taxes and fees to the national and local governments.

On top of this, FCF provided more than P47 million for the implementation of the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) to the host and neighboring communities, including three municipalities; Quezon, Diffun and Kasibu.

The financial assistance is in compliance with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau memorandum allowing all regional offices to allow mining firms to re-align their unspent SDMP allocation to help communities cope up with the difficulties brought by the pandemic.

And similar to the thrust of people awareness in “An Inconvenient Truth,” FCF also established information, communication and education campaigns to develop public awareness and understanding of but not limited to responsible mining and geosciences. In close coordination with the local government, community consultations, household discussions, group meetings are held.

After our e-conversation, I did my own research. The result: FCF was cited for its significant implementation of its Mining Forest programs and awarded on two consecutive years – 2018 and 2019 – the champion for metallic category and placed 2nd runner up for 2020. Also the Philippine Mines Safety and Environment Association awarded FCF as the “Safest Mine Operation and Overall Safest Mine Operation for 2020.”

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