It’s a MMM World!

In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire.— Ayn Rand

Students from the University of the Philippines Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (UP-DMMME) were in Mindanao on 17-25 October, on a roadshow to introduce their respective courses to junior and senior high school students. They visited a number of public and private high schools in Davao, General Santos and Koronadal to encourage every high school student they meet to invest in a career either as a Mining Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer or Materials Engineer – by taking the next UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) which is set every year in August, and ticking any of the three mentioned courses as the preferred academic program.

A few members of the Soccsksargen Bloggers fortunately had the chance to meet with them over dinner as they made their pitch to us bloggers.  Listening to them would make one realize that indeed, we owe many of the comforts of modern lifestyle to MMM (triple M as they are called in UP). Every little thing we have – from kitchen utensils to electronic gadgets, toilet fixtures to transportation, food processing to medicine to green energy- are all products of, or influenced by an engineering that unfortunately not everyone is familiar with. The MMM roadshow did well in introducing their courses and at the same time, in conveying that what cannot be grown must have been mined (Lesson #1).

In a nutshell, mining engineers plan and design the safe and efficient extraction and processing of minerals, and process it for additional value. Metallurgical engineers would be involved in the processing of ores and refining or fabrication of metals. Materials engineers on the other hand, develops new materials by combining metals with other materials.

It is timely that college students reach out to their high school peers to quell some negative image of mining as often portrayed in and quite lopsidedly by mass media. Lesson #2: not everything you see, read or hear is entirely true.

By talking to high school students, they have presented an interesting perspective on one of the hottest topics today- mining. What better way to understand the industry and the profession than hearing it firsthand from these young apprentices. Lesson #3: in searching for the truth, it wouldn’t hurt to ask first the opinion of specialists.

It was important that the roadshow was held in Mindanao. As a US Intelligence Report was quoted in this news item, Mindanao’s mineral endowment can be as much as one trillion USD. By inviting young people from Mindanao to take up MMM engineering courses, it suggests that locals would not only benefit from a mining boom, but more importantly, it is an invitation for them to become responsible for the future of mining activities in their own land. Mining is as much about unlocking a potential and unleashing opportunities as building partnerships and committing to shared responsibilities. We often hear the saying ‘it takes a community to raise a child’. Similarly, it takes a community to build, operate and close a mine (Lesson #4).

The roadshow ends with a challenge to the high school audience. Mineral wealth is like a person’s talent. It should be developed and utilized; otherwise it will remain as unused potential and it would then become a total waste. As they say, we have to cash in on what we have and use the money to improve our lot, and that of the generation after us.

Whatever career path those high school students will eventually choose, or course that they take up in college, it is important that they start investing in themselves. Not only by studying hard or passing college admission exams but also by involving themselves in discussions that will affect and shape their future.  Lesson #5: the real gold mine is in each of us.

Cast of characters: John Carlo Dela Cruz (Mining), Patricia Aina Louise Tan (Mining), Ariane Barranco (Metallurgical) and Kiboy Tabada (Materials). Students from UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) Jolly Joyce Sulapas and Nichole Pada also formed part of the team to provide context of the Philippines’ geological landscape and natural wealth. The team was accompanied by Mining Engineer and faculty adviser Juan Fidel Calaywan.


In Search of 100 Pioneering Women in Mining

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) and the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) together with Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) spearhead this year’s Search for 100 Women in Minerals Development | 100 Special Stories”. The search is in line with the Centennial Celebration of International Women’s Month that marks 100 years of celebrating the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women. It will give recognition to women who have shown excellence in their fields and who have contributed outstanding accomplishments in developing the mining sector and made significant impacts in the lives of people living in the host and neighboring communities of mining projects. The search will also document the success stories of the honorees and their role as catalysts in community and national development.



The Search for 100 Women in Minerals Development, 100 Special Stories will cover 8 major categories that honors outstanding Community Leaders, Women Entrepreneurs, Environment Stewards, Government Leaders, Safety and Health  Practitioners, Information, Advocacy and Media Practitioners, Educators, and Young Leaders.

Criteria for the search will be based on leadership and pioneering spirit, creative solutions and approaches, impact to the community/company/industry and country and ethical leadership. All nominees must be Filipino citizens directly or indirectly involved in the development of the mining sector, must not be a member of the Project Steering Committee or Board of Jurors of the 100 Women in Minerals Development Project and must be of good moral character. Posthumous nominations are also accepted.

For information and nominations, visit Queries may also be directed to the secretariat at 635-4123 or email Nominations will end midnight of 30 September 2011.

Mining Conversations Continue

DIPOLOG CITY – Almost 100 mining stakeholders composed of local government officials, local business chamber officers, community members and church leaders are gathered here today for a one-day Fundamentals of Minerals Development (FMD) seminar.

Said forum is the fourth of a series of conversations with mining stakeholders in Mindanao spearheaded by the Coalition for Responsible Mining in Mindanao (COREMin2) in partnership with the University of the Philippines Department of Mining, Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.  The first FMD was held late last year in Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur. Davao City and Koronadal, South Cotabato hosted the FMD in January and February 2011, respectively.

Topics covered are meant to introduce the concept and applications of responsible mining in the Philippines.  It also aims to dispel unfounded accusations about large scale mining that have been perpetrated by the wittingly misinformed anti mining groups.  The FMD serves as a venue for the public to raise their concerns and/ or ask questions about mining and get the reliable answers straight from competent learned professionals.

Below is the list of topics and their respective resource persons:

Minerals and Industrial Development/ Minerals and Metals in our Daily Lives – Engr. Louie Sarmiento, Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association President

Understanding the Geological Wealth of the Philippines – Engr. James Jun Hernando, District Geologist, TVIRD

The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 – Engr. Larry Heradez, Chief, Mining Tenements Division, MGB Central Office

Mining and Metallurgy – Engr. Ramil Mundo, Site Manager, Sibutad Project of Philex Gold Philippines

Mining Benefits – Engr. Rodolfo Velasco, Chief, Mining Environment and Safety Division, MGB Central Office

Environmental Management and Protection – Virna Baguio, Sr. Science Research Specialist, MGB Region IX

Two representatives from mining communities in Sibutad (President of the Parish Pastoral Council) and Siocon (member of the Subanon Tribe) gave first hand testimonials of the impact of mining operations in their lives, debunking common impressions that large scale minerals development is dirty, destructive and dangerous.  From what they have shared, they see the mining companies as genuine partners of their communities.

The next mining conversations (FMD) will be held in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay next month.  Interested?  Leave a comment and your contact details.

Gina’s Grief

It is unfortunate that the grieving friend of murdered Palawan-based journalist Gerry Ortega has misdirected her wrath to the mining industry. I refer of course to ABS-CBN Foundation’s managing director Gina Lopez.

Letters to Mindanao joins the rest of the Filipino community in condemning the brutal slaying of Gerry Ortega and calls for the immediate resolution of this crime so that justice be meted out to those who have committed this gruesome act.

On the hand, Letters to Mindanao calls for sobriety and discernment. Let us not be quick to judge and pass blame to the mining industry, battered as it is already by the many misplaced criticisms hurled agains it in recent times.

We forgive Gina for succumbing too soon to the official line of the anti-mining groups. Even the Philippine mainstream media has for some time bought the propaganda of labeling the killing as another attack against anti-mining activists. Thankfully, the mainstream media rectified itself and now describes Ortega as an environmentalist and journalist who staunchly opposes graft and corruption in the Palawan government. We hope that Gina also gain her senses and see the real picture very soon.

Lest we forget that the Lopez empire was built on products or results of minerals extraction – the steel for the railways, the pipes for its water utilities, the bricks and mortars of its properties, the power lines of its power and energy generation and distribution business, the machines for its factories, and even its media conglomerate is highly dependent on mined materials used in cameras, computers, cellular phones, transmission lines, cable wires, television sets and many others.

Gina’s radical action that demonizes mining requires a radical response, using her own skewed logic. Should we call for the abolition of elections for the many election-related violence it has caused, and for the failure of the Comelec to administer a free and clean elections? Should we ban the use of motorized vehicles to solve carnapping? Should we abolish our military in view of the corruption scandals it is now embroiled in?

The rational mind in me says that if Gina’s contention that the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is being negligent with its duty to protect Palawan’s biodiversity, then we should take the PCSD to task and make it accountable for its actions. We should allow our institutions to mature and be made accountable for all its decisions. If fraud, graft or corruption has tainted its decisions to allow mining companies to operate within any of the protected areas, then the officials of PCSD should be made to explain. In the same way, mining companies that received its permit through fraudulent means should also face the brute force of law. Our call for justice for the death of Gerry Ortega should not be at the expense of legitimate industries. Our call for justice should not cause another injustice to anyone.

The sustainability equation gives equal concern for planet, profit and people. Our hope is that Gina Lopez, heir to the Lopez wealth and instrumental for rewarding us the likes of Noli de Castro, Willie Revillame and the mindless telenovelas (and extended TV watching habits that contributes to increase in power consumption and higher power rates) would find the time to grieve for the idiotization of the Filipino masses.


Letters To Mindanao congratulates four member-companies of the Coalition for Responsible Mining in Mindanao (COREMin2) for receiving various recognitions during the 57th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference held in Baguio City last month.

Sagittarius Mines, Inc. was bestowed with the prestigious Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) for mineral exploration category, its fourth PMIEA citation since 2004 for overall excellence in operating with the highest regard to the environment, safety and health of its people, and the welfare of the community.  

 TVI Resources Development (Phils.) Inc. was conferred the PMIEA Platinum Achievement Award for Surface Mining Category.

The PMIEA was established under Executive Order No. 399 issued in 1997 to promote the national policy of pro-environment and pro- people minerals development.  The selection committee is headed by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the secretaries of trade and industry, interior and local government, health, and science and technology as members.  The private sector is represented by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (co-chair), Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association and Philippine Mineral Exploration Association.

For multi-sectoral initiatives against occupational and environmental hazards in mining and its related operations, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau recognizes the safest mines in the Philippines that have successfully promoted greater consciousness among government, mine management, and labor to minimize, if not totally eliminate, disabling injuries to the thousands of workmen, while simultaneously protects and enhances mining environment.

Using safety and health compliance data, field validation and overall safety performance, the MGB awarded the Safest Mineral Processing (Extraction Category) to Apex Mining Corporation, the Safest Exploration (Category B) to Sagittarius Mines, Inc. and Safest Mineral Processing – Runner up (Concentrator Category) to TVI Resources Development (Phils.) Inc.

In the same event, the DENR also conferred recognition to mining companies for establishing mining forests within specified areas as part of the expanded “Adopt a Tree, Adopt a Mining Forest Movement”.  The Best Mining Forest Award recognizes mineral firms’ excellence in the management of mining forests, specifically in the areas of development, nursery operations, maintenance and protection, biodiversity consideration, and quality of community involvement,  research  and information campaigns.

Under Exploration Category, this year’s Best Mining Forest was awarded to Sagittarius Mines, Inc. with Silangan Mindanao Mining Corp, a subsidiary of Philex Mining Corporation as third runner-up.

In the metallic category, Philex Mining Corporation (Padcal Operations) and TVI Resources Development (Phils.) Inc. were adjudged first and third runner up, respectively.

These wins only prove that (1) minerals development can be conducted in a strictly responsible manner and (2) Mindanao mining companies lead as models of responsible minerals development in the Philippines.

Kudos and padayon!