Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) environmental teams from all of its subsidiaries met in Surigao del Norte for the first time to plan their corporate direction for 2023 and dissect the new environmental law issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) early this year.
NAC said the gathering is in response to Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2022-04 that was issued in March of this year. This order requires all mining companies to incorporate ecological protection and biodiversity assessment principles and procedures prior to the start of the actual mining operation, not just during rehabilitation processes that last until the end of the mine’s life span.
Progressive rehabilitation after extensive mining operations has been widely accepted as the only time when biodiversity assessment and environmental protections are implemented.
The new DAO makes certain that all appropriate measures for responsible mining that are geared toward the preservation and protection of biodiversity are brought to the forefront as early as during the planning stage.
Engr. Remedios Collado-Camo, NAC AVP for Industrial Safety/OIC, Environment Sector, notes that one very interesting provision in the DAO is the mandate to establish a ‘Reference Ecosystem’, which, according to the law, is “the original state of the ecosystem during pre-mining status that will serve as the guiding image or model for ecosystem restoration or rehabilitation”.
Engr. Camo explains that the ‘Reference Ecosystem’ is a small part of land duly preserved to represent how the area looked like before mining disturbance. This piece of land referred to as “Reference Ecosystem” will then become the guide and the pattern to follow on how to responsibly rehabilitate the land after mining as ordered by law.
“It is no longer about just to beautify mined-out areas after mining but to restore the land to its original form and the DAO will guide us on how to effectively do our job to achieve that state,” furthers Camo.
The new DAO will put emphasis on the protection and conservation of native and endemic species, maximizing its potentials, to efficiently bring back the forest, as close as possible, to its original form after mining.
Camo says the DAO will help streamline all that the Environmental Groups at NAC have been doing since the beginning and the processes will now be more effective and appreciated because DENR now has provided a detailed guide on biodiversity assessment, protection and sustainability.
Camo adds that she is committed to help navigate her entire team through this new DENR biodiversity assessment which, she says, is the backbone of all of NAC’s operations and the core of the mining company’s business processes and strategies. The mantra of responsible mining is bringing back what were disturbed to its original condition, or even better.
“As our President and CEO, Dennis Zamora, always says – it is not mining if it’s not responsible,” Camo stated.