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.


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.