In a signing ceremony Wednesday, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Horacio C. Ramos said that the Philippine government is optimistic that the MRP will ensure that no abandoned mine will again exist in the country.
"This will resolve the issue of abandoned mines being raised by anti-mining groups. We’ve been criticised on this for so long," said Ramos.
Holcim’s MRP is the first one of such program in the cement industry and the first of such project to be approved by the multisectoral Contigent Liability and Rehabilitation Fund Steering Committee which is headed by the MGB chief.
"We’re very proud of this because our advocacy on sustainable development starts from exploration, and then the environmental protection and enhancement program, and the final MRP. Rehabilitation should be progressive while mining is on-going, so when mining is finished, there’s just a little rehabilitation work to be done," said Ramos.
Holcim senior vice president Alexander B. Vonow said the company has almost completed a R1-billion rehabilitation work in its four cement plants – Bacnotan, La Union; Norzagaray, Bulacan; Misamis Oriental; and Davao.
A separate R72m MRP activities have yet to be carried out from 2010 up to 2022.
Being a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Holcim is committed to protecting the environment, according to Holcim Chief Operating Officer Ian S. Thackwray.
Part of the MRP is the restoration of mined-out area into reforested area using indigenous forest species that can survive in the native environment amid drought and other natural calamities. Lakes and ponds are recreated or installed to provide fishing grounds.
In Switzerland where Holcim is based, the company created recreation areas for children to play in or adults to enjoy within mining sites that are near residential areas.
Soil erosion control is a major objective of the program which aims for safety of the workers, the community, and the company’s equipment.
"Quarry is a defect in nature, a hole in a mountain. We’ve to make sure there’s no abnormal quarry movement because that may put to danger the safety of our people and our equipment," said Vonow.
Course materials like sand silt, clayey parts are removed from ponds and water channeling areas in order to ensure water passage and prevent flooding in quarries. Holcim has five to seven settling pond in a stream and puts in artificial channels to ensure dewatering in quarry areas.
Holcim exceeds Philippine Clean Air Act (CAA) standards with its lower emissions of pollutants.