Manuel V. Pangilinan is a name often equated to success — serving as chairman of various prominent and growing companies in the country today.

One of the companies under his helm is Philex Mining Corp. (PMC), which is known as a mineral resources company committed to environmental stewardship and partnering with communities where it operates.

For 60 years, PMC is known for operating the Sto. Tomas II deposit at Padcal, Tuba, Benguet, which is considered the first underground block-cave operation in the Far East, and is one of the longest operating mines in the Philippines.

According to the company’s Web site, before PMC started its operation in Padcal Mine in 1958, the area used to be logged over with very few families. But, in the present, PMC stated that more than 2,800 hectares have been reforested with some eight million trees with a survival rate of 90%. Moreover, PMC said that the average annual cost for Padcal Mine’s reforestation program is P3.4 million.

With reforestation efforts and other environmental management projects, Padcal Mine received an Integrated Management System Certification from TUV Rheinland, covering both ISO 14001:2004 for Environmental Management System and OHSAS 18001:2007 for Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series in 2015. This certification, PMC said, confirms the mine’s environmentally compliant practices and occupationally safe operations.

Apart from Padcal Mine, PMC’s Sibutad Mine also has reforestation, rehabilitation and other environmental measures in the site. This paved the way for the site to be a consistent awardee of the government’s Adopt-A-Mountain, Adopt-A-Mining Forest Program.

Initiatives to promote the physical well-being of the company’s host and neighboring communities are also being undertaken by PMC through its various health and sanitation programs. These include PhilHeath insurance coverages, medical assistance, regular medical and dental missions, which are then complemented by the construction of health centers, improvement of sanitation systems, and access to clean water sources, among others.

Under its corporate social responsibility initiatives, PMC also has a myriad of projects in the arena of education, livelihood and development, as well as public infrastructure.

These practices in PMC’s mining sites are testaments to the company’s longstanding advocacy of conscientious mining.

Further underscoring this advocacy, PMC stated in its 2017 Sustainability Report that aside from being compliant with Republic Act No. 7942, or the “Mining Act,” it is working with a sustainability framework that puts conscientious mining at the strategic core of its policies, with transparency and accountability as the standards inculcated into the workplace culture.

This sustainability framework rests on five pillars — adherence to good governance; promotion of employee wellness; community empowerment; environmental protection; and workplace safety.

All these initiatives and advocacies reflect Mr. Pangilinan’s stature as one of the country’s foremost proponents of responsible mining as well as his firm belief that responsible mining is aligned with nation-building.

In the same report, Mr. Pangilinan highlighted their belief that humanized, conscientious, and principled mining is doable.

“For us, this translates to adhering to strict labor standards, pursuing active reforestation and environmental stewardship, building schools and major roads to bolster local development, and providing accessible health care, among other activities, that promote the well-being of our host and neighboring communities.”

“This even meant carrying the cudgels for the industry as we initiated the adoption of the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining Initiative in the domestic setting, through the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, to express our strict adherence to and pursuit of global mining best practices, for our company and the local mining industry.”

Mr. Pangilinan also shared that internally, PMC is working toward obtaining ISO 26000 Guidelines with the aim of further strengthening the company’s commitment to social responsibility, relevant to its operations and processes, stakeholders and environmental impact.

This is despite the looming challenge in the mining industry, which is foreseen by the company to persist in the next years to come.

“2017 was a challenging year for the mining industry, following the issuance of the ban on open-pit mining and show cause orders for the cancellation of 75 mining contracts nationwide. Although responsible mining has been our company’s hallmark for more than 60 years, we were also affected by these policy changes, as we were obliged to temporarily suspend development on our Silangan mining project. This despite having already received the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001:2004 Certification for our pre-mining activities and secured all major permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, together with an approved Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility.”

Concluding his message on an encouraging note, Mr. Pangilinan said that the company would continue delivering value to its stakeholders.

“Moving forward, we shall seek solutions and social programs that can turn the mining industry’s prevailing challenges into golden opportunities.”