The consequences of large-scale mining
By Andrea Lim
After the cancellation of a mining franchise due to environmental damage in a local community in Española, Palawan, mining companies have to think twice about the way they implement mining operation procedures.
Two rivers have been put at the risk of being “biologically dead” due to Citinickel Mining and Development Corporation’s nickel mining project.
An environmental and scientist group conducted an Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) in surrounding areas of the Pulot nickel-mining project on November 2012, and reports revealed mortalities of shellfish, fish, aquatic and coastal plants and other organisms.
The fact-finding mission was in done in response to complaints of local residents that the rivers in the area seemed to cry “crimson tears” every rainfall, noted especially during the heavy rains brought about by the Habagat storms.
According to Finesa Cosico, lead scientist of the EIM, crying crimson tears mean “oxygen depletion and the eventual biological death of the rivers.”
Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) national coordinator Clemente Bautista said that interviews with locals revealed that the productivity of affected fisheries and agricultural lands experienced a radical decline since the start of Citinickel’s mining operations.
There have also been cases of respiratory and skin diseases, among others, that can be attributed to the mining’s effects.
Price to Pay
Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. confirmed that there was an incident of overflowed water with silt, and paid a Php375,000 penalty fine to the government.
It also claims to have stopped their mining operations and immediately cleaned up and rehabilitated the river and some adjacent farm lots that were affected by the overflow.
On the other hand, the damage has already been done and despite this incident, mining companies, with the majority being foreign-owned, continue to operate in the country.
Large-scale mining operations also continue to show how indifferent the Aquino administration is to the demands of the people and the protection of the environment. It has no problem in giving in to the interests of multinational mining corporations.
Last June 13, Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. have been suspended indefinitely from operating its nickel mine in Española.
The spill happened in Citinickel’s Pulot mine on June 5 when the miner’s siltation control facilities were breached and caused massive discoloration and build up of sediments in the Pasi and Pulot Rivers, the bureau said in a June 10 suspension order.
On-site reports reaching the bureau showed the breach in the silt pond has not been repaired and traces of laterite sediments were still present in the rivers, MGB director Leo Jasareno said.
The mining company is a subsidiary of Oriental Peninsula Resources Group, whose shares are traded on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
by Miriam Tan-Fabian
Big is Not Always Bad
I have always had a deep-seated distrust of big businesses. Unconsciously, I often feel that big business translates to increased environmental impact just due to the sheer size of a company’s operations. When I thought about it though, I recalled that the equation would be totally different if a company’s core competencies are green and pro-environment. One such wonder is Manhattan Green Solutions. Mr. Haresh Daswani, environmental head and manager of MGS, gave me the insider’s scoop on his company.
Conscious Pro-environment Commitment
Reading through the company website, (manhattangreensolutions.com), MGS’ motto is “Welcome to a Greener World,” as a leading environmental and product solutions consultant for companies who wish to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as reduce their operational costs. Digesting this small bit of information encouraged me to delve deeper into the company. I liked the part where the MGS asserted that operational costs can be minimized, if not eliminated, with green and environmental technologies. Oftentimes, businessmen have a popular and deep-seated notion that caring for the environment, including complying with environmental laws, means an inherent trade off between the company’s bottomline and the environment. Such a mindset is wrong and MGS proves it.
One such way is to consciously create products that are good for the environment. Manhattan does this through five major products, the Oxygenics Water Saving showerheads, Veltia hand dryers, Efergy energy monitors, EcoGreen LED lights, and Bioball waterless urinal solution. For example, the Oxygenics series of showerheads allows up to ten (10) times increased oxygen content in the water which helps stimulate and rejuvenate skin cells. Compared to other brands, these products exert 30% stronger water pressure which helps reduce anywhere from 23-70% water and energy consumption when compared to usual commercial brands. And since these showerheads are made of a patented durable resin called Delrin, these showerheads do not clog nor corrode while it resists mineral buildup. Best of all, these futuristic showerheads also have some cool-sounding model names like Vortex, Storm, X Stream, and Five Star Resort.
Starting it Green
Apparently, all of these product innovations involved a conscious choice on MGS’s part, so I had to ask how the company started. Haresh explained that while MGS was initially a trading company, he wanted it to go in a different direction so they initially delved into several comprehensive researches on the environment. This fueled a concern for the current state of our surroundings and a commitment that something had to be done to make things right. At that time, many solutions seemed ineffective and while there were ideas of creating novel green products for the local market, all of these had yet to be made. Finally, these products had to be geared towards the context of the Philippines.
The company has already achieved much by creating and selling their products, but while it can readily just rest on their laurels, Haresh wanted more. When asked, “What is unique about your company that is different from other companies that have environment-friendly products?” He answered, “We are not mere traders. We are consultants presenting product solutions. We initiate in-depth researches and understanding of each of our products. This allows us to properly demonstrate them while being convinced that they are indeed solutions to a problem. We are solution providers more than just product importers”. In addition, MGS provides a staggered payment scheme to all companies, hotels, resorts, hospitals, and other institutions that buy the company’s showerheads by bulk. This set up allows customers to pay affordable monthly payments for a year which would ultimately come from savings from the use of the company’s showerheads. Thus, it is a win-win scenario for everyone. Users of these showerheads enjoy a refreshing shower experience, the purchasing company spends less and is able to pay MGS more conveniently, and MGS itself earns in the process while promoting a stronger tie-up with its bulk buyers. In fact, MGS has already partnered with such bigwigs as Fitness First and several hotels in Manila, Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay.
Challenges from Local Context
Despite MGS’s outstanding accomplishments, Haresh was candid about the company’s many challenges when he explained that one problem was, “Market maturity and understanding of product feasibility given that many managers in the Philippines just run on the command given to them, rather than presenting a novel idea to resolve their issues. Many are still stuck to the idea that a good suggestion is riskier than just following what your boss has ordered you to do”.
Need: A Little Boost
When I asked Haresh if the government has extended any kind of support, he said, “None at this point”. However, when I quizzed him what the government can do for Manhattan, he answered, “We would like our products to be better promoted and used in cities. We hope to be given audience to discuss how we can provide new solutions that others never thought about”. With all the good work that Manhattan has been done and is doing, it should obtain more help so that it can continually do good.
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