Mine Environmental Protection And Enhancement Department 2022
The EMI boast its nearly completed one hectare satellite nursery, which is located at Central Bolas. The said nursery can accommodate up to 500,000 seedlings for the company’s rehabilitation activities.
The satellite nursery also features hydroponics area, herbal and ornamental area, 2 rearing sheds, potting shed, storage room, comfort rooms, and MEPED Office, which also serves as the Forest Research Center or Laboratory (FORLAB) for tissue culture technology.
Two (2) Rearing sheds were established at the satellite nursery, namely Rearing shed 1 and 2. The former accommodates shade intolerant species (sun-loving) while the latter shelters shade tolerant species (shade-loving) and clonal propagates. Both rearing sheds are equipped with misting and sprinkler technology for a more efficient seedling maintenance as well as to improve climatic conditions.
As of today, the satellite nursery has established twenty-one (22) germination beds for the production of planting stocks. Likewise, the nursery houses 45 species of forest trees, 37 species of herbal and ornamental plants, 21 species of agroforestry fruit trees and vegetable crops.
Moreover, the nursery is equipped with its Automated Weather Station (AWS) which is used to monitor, transmit and record wind direction, temperature, precipitation, etc. This station covers the whole Pimmagong and Bolas area.
There is another AWS installed in Block B North to cover the areas in Avretilon, Block B North, Block B South, Block AB and Block A.
Forest Research Center or Laboratory
FORLAB is the laboratory facility for tissue culture designed to prevent loss of vulnerable and threatened species, increase production of highly sensitive and of high-susceptibility species, and more importantly to enhance carbon offsetting.
The operation of FORLAB begins with the micropropagation thru in vitro meristematic cell division to hasten totipotency then will undergo dedifferentiation hence callusing will be coupled with enzymatic injection. During the ex-vitro stage, cytokinin enhancement will be done with hormonal balancing by dosing other enzymes. The cytokinin enhancement process will continue until rearing stage to ensure correct ratio of meristematic differentiation and stem/root elongation.
Hydroponics, Herbal and Ornamentals
Hydroponics is a type of agriculture or gardening method used to raise plants or crops without soil. The term hydroponics came from the Greek words “hudór” for water and “ponos” for labor, which means “water working”. The system involves growing plants by placing the plants or its roots into the nutrient rich solution containing complete, secondary, and micro-nutrients. The nutrients can also be obtained in manures, fish waste, and from other normal nutrients.
According to some researches, one benefit of using hydroponics system is that it produces higher yield. Plants using this system can grow at least 20% faster than plants grown in soil medium. Likewise, hydroponics allows other influences such as pH, light, air temperature, etc. to be almost completely controlled.
Another benefit of the system is that it consumes lesser water (up to 90% less) compared to traditional field crop watering that can cause water loss through evaporation, inefficient irrigation, soil erosion, among others.
The constructed hydroponics system in the nursery uses super dry net which regulates the light (blocks 50-80% sunlight) and temperature passing through the green house building and eliminates pest organisms. The system also uses solar submersible pumps for its circulating water flow system which is responsible for the water solution nutrients cycle.
Some of the Agri-crops produced in the hydroponics area are Romaine lettuce, Iceberg lettuce, Carlo Rosa lettuce, Black Rose lettuce, etc. The hydroponics will continuously produce these crops in the nursery to be delivered to the company’s mess hall to be served as food while the majority are sold to the employees with a low price.
The pH of the water nutrients is closely monitored using a pH meter. Ideally, pH balance should be between 5.5 and 7.0 so as to maintain the available nutrients that the plant can absorb. Going beyond or below the recommended pH level will lead to nutrient deficiencies consequently affecting the plant’s growth. Moreover, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter is also used to measure TDS in the water to monitor the how much nutrient solution is needed to dose in the water.
Herbs refers to any plant part such as fruit, seed, stem, flower, bark, leaf, roots, and non-woody plant. It came from the Latin word “herba”, and Greek word “herbe”. Herbs are used for food, flavonoid, medicine, perfume, dye, pest control, tea, etc.
Ornamental plants are plants grown also for soil erosion control purposes. This includes herbs, vines, shrubs, or trees which are used for decorations and landscaping. They are also valued due to the impression of beauty it possesses. Generally, they serve to as natural living beauty that enriches the human quality of life.
Air, Water, and Noise Management
Mining activities may pose negative impact on the environment such as siltation, dust pollution, soil erosion, etc. However, the EMI commits to mitigate negative externalities of mining activities through its Mine Environmental Modernization Programs. The company’s environmental programs were mainly guided by the MGB-approved Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (AEPEP). Included in the controls for Air Quality Management are the following: Dust suppression using water trucks, mandatory tarp covering on hauling trucks, strict imposition of speed limit, Street sweepers located on strategic areas along hauling roads, regular road maintenance, road sprinkler system, and wash bay operations.
For water quality management, EMI implemented all runoff from active and newly rehabilitated areas are directed towards silt ponds interconnected into series to ultimately discharge on a single point. Geotextile were used as filters and silt fences. The drainage systems were also installed with dissipators, interceptors, and sieve filters, silt curtains to reduce sediment load and decrease the velocity of runoff. Aside from surrounding silt fence and berms, stockpiles were also covered with tarpaulins. The company opted to fabricate sieve filters, silt fences and silt curtains made up of deformed bars with the combination of branches of introduced fast-growing species subjected to silvicultural treatment.
These activities ensured that silted runoff is contained and managed to eliminate its impact on the water body receptors. Quarterly water quality analyses are conducted by CRL laboratory and sampling activities are witnessed by an MMT member.
Some parameters considered for the monitoring activity are the following: 1.) for air quality, total suspended particulate (TSP), sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide; 2.) for water, total suspended solids (TSS); and 3.) for noise, a-weighted decibel (dBA). Based on the results, all significant parameters monitored are within the required standard of DENR-EMB, thus EMI remains compliant to the environmental management of the project.
Land Resource Management
Initially, the use of Fast-Growing Species (FGS), such as Ipil-ipil, Agoho, Acacia sp., Agoho etc. are used for soil conditioning, therefore the use of the said species are desired for the rehabilitation in disturbed areas. Until such time that the planted FGS have influenced the environment to be suitable for the desired native/indigenous/endemic species, different silvicultural treatments and enrichment planting are done to promote biodiversity.
With the EMI’s own central and satellite nursery, the company was able to produce its home-based planting stocks and soil implements. Seeds are collected locally and are propagated using different seed treatment methods. Likewise, the production of soil implements through vermi-composting and organic composting is done to supplement soil nutrients to be used for the planting stocks.
Under the Mine Forest Program, a total of 334,592 forest tree species were planted since the beginning of mining operation of the company. For this year and as of writing, a total of 273,673 seedlings of various species (forest trees, bamboo, herbal and ornamental plants, and agroforestry species) were being taken care of at EMI Satellite Nursery.
Moreover, to prevent soil erosion in the disturbed areas, EMI uses combination of vegetative and engineering methods such as wattling, barring, installation of coconets, and use of vetiver grass and other plant species.
The EMI also follows international standards towards reclamation and rehabilitated mine design benches in conformance with more stringent policies of the country hence also adopting the applicable international standard provisions stated in UNFAO for natural watershed and CFR Title 30 for mineral resources.
The mined-out areas undergo progressive rehabilitation firstly by improving site characteristic through recontouring and re-shaping of benches. The said benches are strategically designed to reduce erosion and control surface run-off which is imperative to mitigate loss of soil nutrients from the top soil and sedimentation.
Through the efforts of the company’s Foresters, silvicultural trainings are being introduced through its employees for scientific tending and caring of trees. The training highlights proper methods to be used for planting stock propagation, plant maintenance, proper handling methods, among others. The said training also enables the rehabilitation employees to be equipped with knowledge tantamount to rehabilitation procedures. Among the trainings held were the proper seed treatments to be given to specific species such as scarification, chemical, and cold & hot treatment method. Air layering/marcotting and mud puddling techniques, pruning, thinning, etc. were also introduced to the employees.
Additionally, studies such as germination rate, capacity, and energy of Mindoro pine (Pinus merkusii) subjected to different seed treatments are currently being undertaken in the satellite nursery. Other studies such as carbon sequestration, floral and faunal biodiversity assessment were also done. In addition, studies such as Sediment Flux study and Forest Restoration Development Program are still to be conducted for the remaining quarter of CY 2022.
Soil ameliorants and/or organic fertilizer are being produced in the central nursery area of EMI. Production and utilization of these materials is important to ensure optimum growth of different plan species during rehabilitation and revegetation of mined out areas. One key component of the soil ameliorants and/or organic fertilizer is the use of animal manure. For sustainability and support to the production of soil ameliorants, the EMI engaged in the agrosilvopastoral system – the land-use practices combining trees and crops to livestock production. Currently, the EMI has its own fishponds raising fishes such as tilapia and catfish, piggery, and goat. The pig and goat manure are then used for organic composting and vermicomposting.
Three main processes are involved in the production of this organic compost: Shredding, Mixing, and Natural Decomposition. First, different organic materials particularly, (1) kakawate and ipil-ipil leaves, (2) ruminant’s manure, and (3) rice straw, are shredded. The shredded organic materials along with carbonized rice hull are then mixed together at 12:3:3:2 ratio (60kg Rice straw-15kg Carbonized Rice hull-15kg Manure-10 kg Kakawati and Ipil-ipil leaves for every 100kg of mixed organic materials). After mixing the four organic materials, they are left within the compost box for around three (3) months with minor maintenance to allow natural decomposition. For EMI vermiculture, the company utilizes the African night crawler to decompose ruminant’s manure turning it into an organic-rich soil ameliorant.
Hydroseeding, also known as hydromulching, is a technique used to spray mixture of seeds, mulch, and tackifier – seed mixture – over an area, to sow grass or other seeds. Due to its maneuverability and efficiency, hastened rehabilitation for understories and ground cover can be achieved.
Gulayan sa Minahan
The EMI has also established a 10-hectare Agroforestry farm, producing eggplants, cucumber, chilies, bitter gourd, grapes, jack fruit, among others. As of May, for CY 2022, the Gulayan sa Minahan has yielded a total of 335.15 kg of assorted fruits, vegetables, and other crops. The produces are delivered to the company’s mess hall to be served as food while the majority are sold to the employees with a low price.
The company also initiated with the chili-oil production project using the chilies produced within the Gulayan. The project can enhance the local employees’ knowledge towards product development or innovation. The project also aims to introduce and appreciate the use of Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in the future. Some future plans with agroforestry development includes: establishment of mushroom house propagation, establishment distillery production area for grapes and roselle wine, and coffee and cacao plantation. The future livelihood development program will be handed over to the Community Relations Department of the company and local community once the said project has been tried, tested, and found feasible by the Mine Environmental Protection and Enhancement Department.
Biodiversity Conservation Values
The company has also participated in different biodiversity conservation celebrations such as Earth Hour Day (March 26, 2022), World Wildlife Day (March 3, 2022), Earth Day (April 22, 2022), and World Ocean Day (June 8, 2022). EMI commits to the protection and conservation of the remaining biodiversity for economic growth, aesthetic value, support to ecosystem services and other benefits derived therefrom.
Earth Hour Day 2022
In celebration with the Earth Hour Day with theme: “Shape our Future”, which was held on March 26, 2022, the EMI enjoined with the worldwide community supporting action on climate change by switching off their lights from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM. The staff from the basecamp as well as other employees from their respective homes participated in the said event. The earth hour celebration was done to encourage people to conserve energy beyond earth hour as well as to protect the environment in daily life.
Likewise, a short educational discussion was also conducted on the same date tackling about Climate Change and Mitigating Measures.
World Wildlife Day 2022
Philippines has one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the world. Five out of the seven marine turtles or “Pawikan” are found in the country. On March 31, 2022, the EMI donated cash and adopted five (5) Pawikan nests – sponsoring an in situ Pawikan nest, covering the entire cost of nest and hatchery management – to the Mead Foundation for their celebration of the World Wildlife Day. The said activity is in connection with the company’s commitment towards a ridge-to-reef approach to environmental protection initiatives.
Additionally, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Signing Ceremony was held in Iba Botanicals, located at Iba, Zambales, last June 23, 2022. Provision under the said MOA involves the annual assistance of the EMI to the Pawikan Project of the Mead Foundation, which is incorporated in the Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (AEPEP) of the company. The said activity is part of the company’s initiative to enhance biodiversity conservation and protection in mining operations.
Earth Day 2022
“Invest in our Planet” was the theme for 2022 Earth Day Celebration. The said event was held on April 22, 2022 and was participated by the EMI with their four (4) activities, namely: 1.) Tree planting activity, 2.) Clean-up Drive, 3.) Information, Education, Communication (IEC) Campaign, and 4.) Pageant Contest – Mr. & Ms. Earth 2022.
The earth day celebration of the company started through a motorcade parade, followed by the tree planting activity that was conducted in Brgy. Guisguis, Sta. Cruz, Zambales and at the Cato Port Area. The said activity was participated by more than 300 employees, planting a total of 1,080 seedling of forest trees and bamboo species. Among the planted species are: Pamintaogen, Sakit, Tanila, Narra, Pamantikain, Paitan, Pongo-pongo, Ipil-ipil, Malunggai, Oplay, Bayog, and Kawayang tinik. After the tree planting activity, the team proceeded with their clean-up drive activity along Daang Kalikasan road, Immalpay Creek and coastal area of the Cato port.
An IEC campaign was also conducted at Brgy. Guisguis covered court, tackling two important topics: 1.) Climate Change, Environmental Literacy; and 2.) Philippine Biodiversity Status and Conservation Strategies. Before the day ends, the EMI conducted its first Mr. and Ms. Earth 2022, which was held at Brgy. Lipay Covered Court, Sta. Cruz, Zambales. The activity was participated by 16 contestants and was spectated by the employees and neighboring community. The pageant became a venue to raise public awareness towards climate change mitigating actions, biodiversity conservation, and responsible mining. The activity ended with the crowning of Mr. and Ms. Earth 2022, who were Mr. Jericho Ivan Abelong and Ms. Aillen Melu, respectively.
World Ocean Day 2022
The EMI celebrated the World Ocean Day 2022 with the theme: “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean” on June 11, 2022 at Brgy. Longos, Sta. Cruz, Zambales. A short discussion was made to the employees about the importance, benefits and threats to the ocean.
As a collective action, the company had conducted a Coastal Clean-up and Mangrove Tree Planting Activity along the coastal area of Brgy. Longos, Sta. Cruz, Zambales. The company had planted a total of 1,000 propagules of Mangrove species (Rhizophora sp.), to protect and nurse marine wildlife found in the area as well as to buffer the coast, protecting the coastline from storms, waves, and floods.
Alinsaog and Potogo River Clearing Activity
To assist the neighboring community with their problem regarding their water bodies, the EMI, together with other mining companies in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, extended their assistance through the clearing and rehabilitation of the Alinsaog and Potogo River located at Brgy. Guis-guis and Guinabon, respectively, Sta. Cruz, Zambales. For the Alinsaog river, the EMI alone has cleared a total portion of 650 meters in the said activity. Likewise, an on-going same activity is being conducted at the Potogo river. Some of the accumulated land debris was distributed to the necessitating families affected by sheet erosion; and hauling truck garages to minimize formation of mud clumps on roads when heavy vehicles are leaving the garage. Further, this effort was done to allow the continuous and laminar flow of the waterway as well as to protect the natural streambanks of the area from further erosion.