COMP adopts TSM initiative

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has moved to formally and officially adopt Canada’s sustainable mining model.

The adoption of Toward Sustainable Mining, or TSM initiative, a mining-sustainability standard developed by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), is in response to President Duterte’s call to the industry to be more responsible in doing business.

“There is so much that minerals development—done responsibly— can contribute to the economy of a nation and to the welfare of mining communities, as shown by numerous examples in the Philippines. The adoption of TSM by members of the Chamber of Mines is intended to institutionalize practices that secure these contributions for the long term,” Gerard H. Brimo, COMP chairman, president and CEO of the Nickel Asia Corp., said in a news statement.

For his part, MAC President and CEO Pierre Gratton lauded COMP for its decision to partner with MAC and adopt its sustainable-mining model.

“It is our privilege to share our tools and expertise in sustainable- mining practices with the world. With the Philippines’s adoption of TSM, we’re proud to say that our made-in-Canada program is now in five countries on five continents. We applaud the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines for taking this important step forward as it works to enhance its industry’s environmental and social performance,” he said.

The COMP and MAC are expected to make the partnership on the adoption of TSM official, along with a public announcement on Tuesday, with Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu attending the event, according to Ronald Recidoro, executive director of COMP.

Mining-industry players are also expected to release the “Baguio Declaration” affirming their commitment to responsible mining in response to the challenge of the environment chief during the 64th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference organized by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association held in Baguio City in November.

According to Recidoro, the COMP’s executive director, COMP’s adoption of the TSM initiative is a first for national mining association operating within the Southeast Asian region.

The COMP, however, is the fourth national mining association outside of Canada to adopt TSM in the span of less than two years, underscoring the program’s growing global presence.

The national mining associations of Finland (FinnMin), Argentina (Cámara Argentina de Empresarios Mineros) and Botswana (Botswana Chamber of Mines) are currently implementing TSM.

Launched by the MAC in 2004, the implementation of TSM is mandatory for all MAC members’ Canadian operations, but many voluntarily apply it to their international sites, Recidoro said.

MAC freely shares TSM with other countries seeking tools to improve the environmental and social performance of their mining industries, including engagement with civil society and enhanced transparency and accountability.

TSM requires mining companies to annually assess their facilities’ performance in key areas, including tailings management, community outreach, safety and health, biodiversity conservation, crisis management, energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions management.

The results are freely available to the public and are externally verified every three years to ensure what has been reported is accurate. While COMP will tailor its performance areas so that they reflect the unique aspects of its domestic mining sector, they will strongly align with those of Canada’s.

To ensure TSM reflects the expectations of civil society and industry stakeholders, it was designed and continues to be shaped by an independent, multiinterest advisory panel. As part of its implementation, COMP will implement a similar advisory body to provide this valuable oversight function.

Meanwhile, antimining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is not impressed by COMP’s adoption of the TSM model of Canadian mining companies.

Sought for reaction, Jaybee Gargandera, national coordinator of ATM said the term “sustainable mining” itself has been discredited because minerals themselves are finite resources, and the link of minerals extraction to deliver sustainable development has never been established.

“This is why the global mining industry had to fall back on the concept of “responsible mining,” he said.

According to ATM, the TSM model is a weak framework, as compared to another world-class mining framework being developed—the Initiative for Responsible Mining Accounting Assurance (Irma).

“Alyansa Tigil Mina would have been more pleasantly surprised if Irma was adopted by COMP. If the United Nations Environment Program report for 2017 is to be an objective basis, then the DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] and the Duterte administration should be afraid once COMP formally adopted TSM.

He cited a report, issued on October 27,  which states that “Canada has Second Worst Mining Record in World: UN.”

“Finally, we stand by our assertion that ‘responsible mining’ is a myth. And the effort to picture large-scale mining operations in the Philippines as moving ‘towards sustainable mining’ is bordering on the absurd and comical,” he said.

According to Garganera, the evidence of “irresponsible mining” in the Philippines is overwhelming, and the 23 cancellation orders and five suspension orders against mining projects issued by former Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez attests to these.

“COMP is better served to address these issues both legally and technically.  Their accountabilities to the communities affected and displaced by mining operations cannot be replaced by their attempt to sugarcoat or greenwash their operations,” he said.

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Turning Points 2018