File photo by Philippine News Agency

Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTN), a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), begins the last stretch of the company’s journey towards its goal of planting 5 Million trees in Rio Tuba. None other than Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque will grace the ceremonial planting of the first of the remaining 900,000 trees RTN needs to complete its 5M goal.

To date, RTN has a record of about 4.1 Million surviving trees planted in various areas covered in its mine rehabilitation and reforestation programs.

According to Environmental Planner, Janice M. Tupas, Manager of the Mines Environmental Protection and Enhancement Dept. (MEPED) of RTN, there is a mechanism that her team and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR employ that actually monitors and counts the survival rates of the trees they plant.

“This year, we will be more aggressive, we will build hectares upon hectares of bamboo plantations, we will engage the communities to turn their backyards into mini forests and we will have support from the Department to Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Dept. of Education in Palawan that I feel we will even surpass 5 Million,” Tupas excitedly says.

Despite its economic contributions to the fiscal health of the communities, the mining industry continues its campaign to foster an appreciation and instill a sense of environmental stewardship among the people of Palawan. RTN believes that contributing to the restoration and protection of the rich forest ecosystem in Palawan is a moral obligation.

Engineer Cynthia E. Rosero, Resident Mine Manager for RTN, says having Sec. Harry Roque grace this important event helps showcase the importance the mining company is giving to its environmental protection programs and to RTN’s efforts to keep Palawan green.

“Planting 5 Million Trees is no easy feat for a mining company and we are proud of this,” Rosero says.

RTN is one of the mining companies deeply committed to achieving ecosystem restoration and reforestation in mined-out areas. Applying progressive rehabilitation strategies, RTN, in its more than 50 years of operation in Rio Tuba, proves that an active mining company can create a forest in its path and can be the catalyst in the re-greening of a province like Palawan.

“RTN’s bold ambition is to plant 5 Million trees it can leave behind as a legacy. This year is the last stretch in achieving that ambition. With a balance of 900,000, many are cheering us on and many are putting in their support and we are honored and grateful,” adds Tupas.

To date, RTN rehabilitated a total of 196.64 hectares of its mining area where it has planted 1,205,763 surviving trees of different species including as narra, ipil, apitong, agoho, udling, kupang, batino, tongkat ali, amugis, among others. Some 663.08 has. have been reforested with native tree species, coffee, mangroves, botanical plant, and some industrial trees, in support of the government’s Green Philippine Highway Project; Adopt-a-Mountain Project; and the National Greening Program

“This year, 2021 is a big year for RTN because, after a year threatened by the pandemic, our partners from the communities and all our supporters and well-wishers will help us until we reach our 5 millionth tree. This is going to be a very important milestone,” Rosero explains.

RTN plants trees to fulfill the objective of mine rehabilitation to restore disturbed areas to a safe, non-erodible condition, establishing land use capability that is functional and back to the condition, if not better, before disturbance.

Because people tend to ignore the role mining plays in the development of nations, mining companies like RTN would go above and beyond to prove that responsible mining exists – the kind that endeavors to provide a sustainable environment for the future.

“Planting 5 million trees is not something ordinary organizations can easily do, but RTN endeavors this for Palawan, and in fact, RTN intends to plant more in the years to come,” ends Tupas.