A first in the mining industry – the P6.4M Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station (CAAQMS) is to be established in the mining community of Bataraza in Southern Palawan. Photo shows the signatories (L to R): Engr. Remmy Collado-Camo, NAC AVP for Safety and Envi; Jose Bayani Baylon, NAC VP for Corp. Comm.; DENR-EMB MIMAROPA Director, Joe Amil M. Salino; Masahiro Kamiya, CBNC President; Rommel A. Ibuna, GPI President; Engr. Pablito Estorque, Chief, Environmental and Enforcement Division - EMB MIMAROPA.

A P6.4 million continuous ambient air quality monitoring station (CAAQMS) will be built in the mining community in Bataraza town to assess pollution levels in comparison to air quality norms.

Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTN), Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC), and Graymont (Philippines), Inc. (GPI) will put it up in the Rio Tuba Export Processing Zone (RTEPZ), where they have operations, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In a statement, the three firms said “monitoring air quality, particularly in a mining community, is crucial for an effective air quality management system to take the necessary corrective actions to reduce pollution and protect the health of the air people breathe.”

“The CAAQMS is capable of monitoring particulate matter of 10 and 2.5 micron particle size. It will also be equipped with data acquisition system and will display real-time results of air quality that will be visible to the public,” said DENR-Environmental Management Bureau MIMAROPA director Joe Amil Salino in the statement.

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RTN undertakes monthly in-house air quality monitoring as a matter of policy, according to the statement, but the CAAQMS will improve the quality of the mining company’s monitoring system to ensure that the environment and public health are safeguarded from the dangers of air pollution.

The CAAQMS is a more advanced version of DENR’s Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System (AAQMS), which is an automatic monitoring system that sends real-time data to its air quality network operating center (AQNOC) and is synchronized with the worldwide real-time air quality index, the firms said.

Expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2022, the funding support and other relevant technical assistance for the CAAQMS in Rio Tuba, such as the procurement, maintenance, and operational expenses, will be provided by RTN, CBNC, and GPI.

The establishment of the state-of-the-art air monitoring stations in strategic locations across the country is a project of the EMB, the line bureau of the DENR that sets air quality standards and monitors ambient and point-source pollutants.

The initiative, which is under the DENR Adopt-a-CAAQMS Program launched in October 2020, targets to expand the agency’s ambient air quality network and step up the country’s capacity to monitor ambient air quality.

The collaboration with RTN, CBNC, and GPI brings the second CAAQMS to Palawan – the first of which is located in Puerto Princesa – to be situated in the Municipality of Bataraza to monitor ambient air quality in the designated Rio Tuba Special Airshed.

RTN, CBNC, and GPI believe that the new system will modernize the assessment of current state of ambient air quality in order for the companies to determine suitable programs to achieve total clean and healthy air to breathe for the communities, in the present and the generations to come.

“The Government has been strictly enforcing measures on the mining industry to ensure that it continuously adapt environmentally-sustainable and responsible practices by adhering to environmental laws in the country. Private companies in the country prove that responsible mining can happen and this should be commended” said Salino.

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