Yearly Archive: 2017

Health is Gold, Gold in Health

What are the top 10 minerals mined in the world?

They are quartz (used for glass, paints, refractory materials), bauxite (the second most used metal globally after steel), cobalt (used in aircraft gas turbine engines, magnets), tin tantalum and tungsten (used in the manufacturing of computers, both laptops and desktops, and mobile phones), fluorspar/fluorite (used in the pottery, ceramics, optical, electroplating and plastics industries), platinum group metals ( includes platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium), silver (used for batteries, electrical and electronic devices and industrial applications) and gold which is used for jewelry, coins, measure of value, scientific and electronic instruments and for dentistry, medicine and health.

Gold is needed in the medical and dental field to keep us alive and healthy.

Look beyond jewelries, money and coin and you will see that we need gold to communicate. Gold is a highly efficient conductor that is able to carry tiny electrical charges. It is part of all electronic devices, including cell phones, televisions, GPS, desktop and laptop computers to transfer information quickly. In aerospace, gold is used to lubricate mechanical parts, conduct electricity and coat the insides of space vehicles to protect people inside from infrared radiation and heat.

But above else, the purpose of gold is to help sustain our health being. How? Gold is used as the best tooth filling. It is chemically inert and non-allergenic and is used as early as 700 B.C to replace broken or missing teeth. Ain’t life sweeter if you don’t suffer from toothache?

Gold is used as an aid in healthcare for the diagnosis of any ailments or radiation treatments. It also acts as a drug to treat a small number of medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis where they inject solutions of sodium aurothiomalate or aurothioglucose. Gold is also used to trace malaria. Gold nanoparticles drive a colour change on the strip if malaria is present. The tests are simple, reliable and robust; they can be used anywhere in the world without the need for expensive equipment or complex supply chains.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 319 million malaria RDTs were sold in 2013.

The properties of gold nanoparticles help in detecting diseases like HIV/AIDS (gold nanoparticle techniques are able to sense the presence of a target molecule at ultra-low concentration, improving early detection). Gold nanoparticles are being engineered to be attached to cancer –related proteins for easier detection. Gold is also used to make heart stents.

Scientists, health engineers are still discovering the many usage of gold as it possesses a good quality in treating and detecting diseases. That is why it is hard to live without gold. And we have to rely on mining to extract it for us. Just like in Masbate, where Filminera and Masbate Gold project use a strong year-round environmental management program to minimize the disturbances done to the environment. They plant trees, protect watersheds, plant mangroves and provide the community with various livelihood programs aside from education, infrastructure and healthcare.

Because health is gold and there’s gold in maintaining your health, it is imperative that we mine gold responsibly to sustain life on earth.

Iron and Mining in our Daily Lives

Can we live without the aid of mining now a days? No. It’s really hard not to. Not because we are a developing country, not because we are surging forward towards industrialization. But because, mining and the things we get from mining is part of our lives – whether we like it or not.

As I pound the keys of my tablet, enjoy the cool breeze of our inverter aircon, feel safe under the sturdy and durable roof above my head which keeps me dry from the rain and safe from burglars, I have the major metals found in the earth like iron ore to be thankful for.

Iron ore or the main ingredient in steel, is without doubt a major factor in our daily living. Every second of our lives, we use steel. From the clothes we wear (the machines were made of steel), from the food we eat (the food were transported using vehicles made from steel), from the water we drink (water passes thru metal pipes), we rely on steel. And to harvest steel we mine. Iron ores is one of the earth’s most abundant rock elements and it where metallic iron is extracted. Iron ore makes up about 5% of the Earth’s crust and is the 4th most common element in the world. Australia has the best quality of iron ore in the world and this is the country where it is found abundantly.

In the Philippines, there is only one iron-producing mine in the country namely the Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp. Its operation was recently suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as part of its audit on all the mining firms in the country.

Mining has been part of our lives as early as 1521. It helps produce jobs, improve lives in the community and contribute to the growing economy of our country. To engage in mining here in the Philippines requires so many permits and heavy payments. There are laws too like the Philippine Mining Act that must be followed.

Since the Philippines is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the volcanic activities has produced different minerals for our country. The Philippines is ranked as the 5th most mineral-rich country in the world for copper, nickel, gold and chromite. Globally, the Philippines places third as the largest gold producer, fourth for copper and fifth for nickel. Gold is being responsibly mined in Masbate by Filminera and Masbate Gold Project. Mining has pushed other country’s economy – like that of Canada and Australia – to great heights. They practice responsible mining and it reflects on how they rehabilitate their environment before, during and after mining.

All mining companies are also being called to practice responsible mining. Responsible Mining is the best solution to address all problems concerning mining. As mining cannot help but cause environmental and social change, responsible mining calls for all mining industries to (a) AVOID or MINIMIZE harm to the environment (with good environmental management plans at hand implemented long-term), (b) respect human rights and provide jobs to the local community (c) create a very safe workplace for people and the environment and lastly (d) responsible mining demands the mining industries to leave a good legacy in that community thru building infrastructures like roads, schools, hospitals and others. Mining is a very lucrative business that is why the world demands it to be morally, socially and ethically responsible at all times.

Commentary: Of Cellphones and Mining…

I have never been fond of cellphones, never was, never will be. That’s why I still use my old 9 yo blackberry (with missing keypads already) much to the disgust of my friends Because I know cellphones are non-recyclable and it contains many minerals as it drains many of the earth’s resources continuously …

A single cellphone is made up of the following:

62 different types of metals – 17 rare Earth metals, 16 are included in phones
Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium (rare earth metals)
A.they give your phone the power to vibrate
B. produce the colours of a phone display.

40% made of metals (predominantly copper, gold, platinum, silver and tungsten)
Metals – aluminum alloys, Lithium cobalt oxide and carbon graphite ( used to make the batteries)
Gold, copper and silver (used in the wiring of the phone.)
Platinum and tungsten (used in the circuitry.)

If you love cellphones, technology and a whole lot more gadgets, then there is no end to mining these minerals.
Mining is inevitable in our existence right now because industrialization and the modernization of the world depends heavily on metals and minerals (gold, copper, silver etc.) Even life depends on these minerals (what is a heart stent made of? It’s gold.)
Copper (together with gold and silver, the 3 most used metals) are used for smartphones, desktop computers, industrial machinery, green energy initiatives and others.

Here in the Philippines, there are 3 copper mining firms operating now (during the 1970’s 18 copper mining firms were operational). They aren’t discovered as fast they are needed in the world. This is the same as with the “rare metals.” They aren’t plentiful and mining or extracting them is time-consuming and they can’t be replaced anymore.

According to the Minerals Education Coalition, a baby born will use up to 539 lbs of zinc, 903 lbs of lead and 985 lbs of copper during his or her lifetime, not just in phones but in other gadgets and appliances too. Multiply these by billions of people living on earth … now you know how much we are fast draining mother Earth.

I was once against mining, but after realizing that we cannot live without a roof above our head made of steel, my work depends on laptop and emailing my work using fast internet connection, I use a car to fetch my kids, my cousins are alive become of heart stents in their hearts, mining metals and minerals are integral part of our life now. We can mine … but provided it is done thru RESPONSIBLE MINING wherein absolute care is given to the environment’s rehabilitation and protection.

RESPONSIBLE MINING also involves only 20-25 years of mining and its rehabilitation is done for another 10-15 years. RESPONSIBLE MINING requires ISO and best environmental management programs. Only capable and able mining companies have the heart to marry mining and the least disturbance to be done in the environment. Doing these, we have the environment’s and our future’s welfare in mind.

If we can make all that exists in our world out of ORGANIC MATERIALS (ex: mushroom spores are replacing styrofoam, leaves are replacing plastic plates), bamboo are replacing bike frame) then yes we can end MINING. But in the meantime, we have to work and deal with the best mining practices … one that puts responsibility in all its action.

God, glory and GOLD.

Wonder who and how mining started here in the Philippines?

 

With the recent issue that gripped and threatened the mining industry in our country, it gave every Filipino a quick educational hindsight on the need to protect nature and our environment. Though some were just introduced to the term “responsible mining”, it awakened the environmental “spirit” in each one of us to reflect on how we manage our environmental resources, how we benefit from it and how we abuse it. It’s a good thing that many are now aware and willing to step in to protect mother nature.

I’ve personally been to 3 mining sites in the country – one that mines nickel in Zambales, one that mines black Sand in Dumaguete and one that mines gold in Masbate. And I can tell pointblank which one does things “right” or responsibly mines, and which one mines and destroy. And it got me thinking, can we live without mining? Can we live without nickel, gold, copper and other minerals? And my answer — no. We can’t live without mining simple because we are already in the age of technology and modernization needs the minerals of the earth. Mining is an integral part of the development of humanity and the universe and for me to understand it more, I know I had to dig deep into the roots of how mining started in our country.

How and when did mining began in the Philippines?

 

Mining has always been a part of the Filipino lives. This was evident as early as 1000 BC when our ancestors mined for gold, silver, copper and iron and made into gold ingots, chains, calombigas, earrings, gold dagger hangers and even tooth plating. Natives and early Filipinos bartered for gold, pearls and agate with merchants from Arab, Asia and Europe. That is why when Ferdinand Magellan first saw the natives wearing gold ornaments from head to toe … he knew our island is rich not only in gold but with other minerals. He had every reason to conquer us not more than our spices or goods, religion or God but because of Gold.

 

The Spaniards 1st attempted to colonize the highlands or the Mountain Provinces because of its rich gold mines, but they failed. It was in 1620 when the Spanish explorers succeeded in controlling some Igorot gold mines in La Trinidad Valley. It wasn’t only gold that the Spaniards mine, but also coal.

Coal was first discovered in the Philippine islands in 1827 in the island of Cebu although there was little interest from the Spanish colonial government or private individuals to exploit the resource until the arrival of steamships in the archipelago. Still, the Spaniards went gaga with our rich deposit of gold that they even made a law called Inspeccion de Minas, to inspect the existence of minerals in the archipelago.
Mining companies started operating in the province in 1930. This brought jobs, and many lowlanders migrated to Benguet, especially in towns surrounding the gold mines, such as Itogon, Mankayan and Tuba.

The first commercial mine in the Philippines was in Benguet, in Central Luzon, established by the Benguet Mining Corporation. But it wasn’t long when the Americans arrived and heard of the gold deposits here in our country, that they made a thorough and extensive geological survey that validated the Philippines as a mineral-rich country. They issued Act 468, a law that basically gave the government the right to reserve mineral lands for its own purposes, including the commercialization of the Benguet gold mining.

In 1921, only small-scale gold mining existed. Gold was the most important mineral from 1933-1941. When World War II broke, it started the mining of other minerals as Japanese coerces the Filipinos to mine metals to be used for war. This started the commercialization, exploitation and degeneration of our mountains. Large-scale copper mining reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s. By the late 80s, world demand for copper decreased in favour of gold.

The mining industry is still evolving as laws are adjusted to protect the interest of our people and the environment. This is to put the best interest of our country who is the fifth most mineral-rich country in the world for gold, nickel, copper, and chromite. No wonder, multi-billion companies will stop at nothing to mine our resources that is why a responsible mining act and an effective environmental management program to rehabilitate the affected areas must been enforced and implemented immediately.

Masbate Gold Project: The Model Mine from Masbate

Sustainable development has been a buzzword ever since the UN coined the term as one of their global goals. This has also been one of the hot topics in the mining community ever since the crackdown for mining sites that violate the law of the land. It is now in every mining company’s best interest to ensure that they keep the local government and the community involved in its business.

These include: livelihood, Environment, Education and Infrastructure.

Working hand in hand with the government and the community to create sustainable development will turn you into a ‘responsible mining company’ which in my opinion is something that all companies should do since they are profiting from the land of the community.

Mining Responsibly is possible if the company is willing to work on it and take the time to really follow protocol and help the local community. One example of this mining site is the Masbate Gold Project in Aroroy, Masbate. The Masbate Gold Project is a joint venture between 2 Philippine Companies and A Canadian Mining company.

This mining site is a model mine that the DENR is looking to work with to provide and build a sustainable integrated area development  (SIAD) Plan to the Philippine Mining Community according to an article (link here) in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).

Here are some of their programs:

According to the article of PDI, Filminera said the IAD plan was aligned with relevant DENR programs like the National Greening Program, Biodiversity Program, Biochar Program for Agricultural and other Wastes, Coastal Research and Management, Clean Water and Air Programs and Solid Waste Management Program.

If most mining companies have done these programs, most communities would be better served and more mining companies will stay open. So if you are in the mining industry please take note of these and implement them to ensure your long-term business.

Is The Closure of Some Mining Firms in the Philippines Necessary?

Mining companies in the Philippines have long been abusing the country. The oligarchs and politicians own some of these companies and have truly taken advantage of the system for many years.This is the reason that the Philippine government has started cracking down on mining companies who are not complying with government and international standards. I think that the closure of mines around the country is a very good step into cracking down on environmental abuse.

Alot of mining communities have been affected but most of these are because of violations and as many people have seen there are still mining operators in the country who have been properly complying with government laws and standards.

According to an Article in Philippine Star (link here) These firms have made over 82% of the profit for themselves and their company. They have not created opportunities for the communities they are involved in. There have also been mines that have been suspended due to violations.

Most of these sanctions have affected alot of workers in these mining companies however DENR Secretary Gina Lopez believes that area development is more important than short-term gains with mine that threaten the local community in the long-run.

So does the Philippine Government want to ban all kinds of mining?

I don’t actually believe this since there are still mining companies out there that have been allowed to continue their operations nationwide. These mining companies have been cleared of any wrongdoing and have been operating for a very long time.

An example of one of the companies that have not been sanctioned is Filminera Resources who co-own Masbate Gold Project with 1 other Filipino firm and a Canadian Partner. They have been deemed to be following the protocols set by the government. According to one article in Rappler (link here) Filminera Resources was not charged due to insufficient evidence that environmental damage is due to Filminera’s Mining activities. It has been junked by the court of appeals in the region of Masbate.

As you can see, mining in the Philippines is allowed and it is high time that we start sanctioning the people who have been abusing the Philippine’s natural environment. The message has been sent and it’s loud and clear: Mine Responsibly or Be Shut Down.

How Sustainable Integrated Area Development Mining is key to Mining Firms in the Philippines

Mining is now a hot topic in the country today, given all the suspensions and various news articles coming out right now. This is especially valuable globally since the Philippines is the #1 producer of Nickel Ore worldwide.

One of the key things that most local mining companies miss is the ability to build long-term and safe development in the mining communities all over the country. This is why over 23 mining companies have been shutdown by our DENR Secretary Miss Gina Lopez.

I truly believe that irresponsible mining is something that can easily be avoided and it is mostly being practiced because of greed and lack of knowledge and skill set to create sustainable integrated Development Mining.The problem for most mining companies here locally is that they do not have a long-term sustainable plan for the community beside their mining sites and a sustainable plan includes the environment, community as well as the government.

This is extremely important since Mining sites usually last for 10-20 years max before they get all the minerals in the site, having said that there should be a plan in place to create a developed community after the mining site has been fully depleted.

This is where Integrated development mining comes into play. According to the United Nation’s World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) “Foster sustainable mining practices through the provision of financial, technical and capacity-building support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for the mining and processing of minerals, including small-scale mining, and, where possible and appropriate, improve value-added processing, upgrade scientific and technological information and reclaim and rehabilitate degraded sites”

This is one of the worldwide goals of UN and this is why our DENR Secretary has been trying hard to help and implement this plan.

In an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) (Link Here)Lopez defined SIAD as “an approach, strategy and guiding philosophy that weaves environmental considerations with social justice and human development” and as you can see if you follow this process you will be able to mine in the Philippines safely.

One of these mining companies that have good business practices is Filminera Resources Inc. which has been deferred from suspension by the DENR as stated in the same article from PDI because they have been found to have sustainable integrated area development plans in place. Having said that, this only show that if you are a responsible company with extremely good business practices, you will be able to mine in the Philippines safely.

I think the key is to work hand in hand with the government to show them that as mining companies you are willing to comply and also know where your practices should be improved. I personally believe that all mining companies should coordinate with the government extensively in order to have a smooth and easy mining operation in the country while helping their mining communities.