BAGUIO CITY — The Philippine mining industry expressed support for sustainable development and responsible mining practices.

“Let us share the benefits of responsible mining with the bigger community outside of our operating areas by improving the lives of our stakeholders and sharing our knowledge and skills to enrich others,” said,” Engr. Louie Sarmiento, President of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) in his welcome remarks Thursday during the 62nd Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference (ANMSEC) which gathered over 2,000 participants both here and abroad.

The annual conference held in the country’s summer capital bolstered the country’s initiative to promote employment, livelihood and address environmental concerns.

The summit agenda is also greatly focused on occupational health and safety, community development and environmental enhancement and protection — which are the main thrusts of the PMSEA.

“This year, let us heed the call of our theme to be inclusive. Let us realize that by uniting our efforts to improve our impact areas with relevant development that are aligned to the country’s development agenda we can send a tangible message to the leaders of our country that we are deeply concerned with the welfare of the Philippines as a whole — that the industry is true to its potential and is worth supporting,” Sarmiento said, citing the various achievements of the industry in upholding its development goals.

In a 2015 study conducted by Dr. Corinthia Naz of the Philippine Poverty and Environment Initiative in cooperation with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Mine Environment and Safety Division revealed that as of July 2015, a total of PhP18 billion worth of Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programs were implemented by metallic and non-metallic mines.

On the other hand, community development programs from mining companies in the exploration phase (prior to operations) benefited a total of 232 barangays all over the country from 2011 to 2014. While operating mines benefitted a total of 573 barangays via the Social Development Management Program (SDMP) amounting to Php11.5 billion as of the first semester of 2015.

In the area of occupational health and safety, all mining companies pursuant to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (RA7942) and its implementing rules and regualtions are required to submit an annual safety and health program that includes emergency response preparedness program and creation of an emergency response team.

“In the years ahead, the industry’s achievements will only grow in both scale and momentum — testament to the strong commitment of responsible mining companies operating in the country. Moreover, stakeholders and communities that host mining activities can expect the delivery of social, environmental and economic benefits brought about by the larger extractive and mineral development industry,” expressed Sarmiento on the foreseen future beginning next year.

“Some ask why we always mention the phrase “responsible mining” in our theme, even if the words “responsible mining” to some of us might have become a tiring and overused phrase there is just no replacement for it. “Responsible mining” is our mantra. We give the meaning to responsible mining in how we operate,” he added. Lilybeth G. Ison /PNA