Mining Forest Program 2022
The ERAMEN Minerals, Inc. (EMI) with Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) No. 209-2005-111 and Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) No. 0605-003-2140, is located in Brgys. Tubo-tubo South and North, Lucapon South, Guis-guis, Guinabon, and Uacon in the municipalities of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria, Zambales. The mining tenement of EMI, comprises with a total of nine (9) parcels has a total land area of 4,619 hectares. The company was established and registered at the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on September 4, 2002 and is represented by its President, Mr. Enrique C. Fernandez.
The general objective of the project is to mine nickel ore with an approximate annual production of 600,000 to 1,500,000 wet metric tons (WMT). Likewise, the company practice contour mining or bench mining method since nickel laterite ores are located near land surface. This method is done to preserve natural contour of the highlands. Moreover, the company use progressive rehabilitation – the rehabilitation undertaken progressively, continually or sequentially as mining operations are ongoing – method in its revegetation programs.
Progressive rehabilitation measures are adopted using the best practice in mine restoration and land reclamation. The progressive rehabilitation starts with land reclamation by backfilling with the use of low-grade/waste ores, followed by re-contouring, benching, and leveling. The EMI also follows international standards 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 using bench specification strategically designed to mitigate soil erosion and control surface run-off. Subsequently, capping of top soil is done using those that were stripped during development of mining area which are the upper or outermost layer of soil with high concentration of organic matter, nutrients, and micro-organisms. This process is essential to maximize the use of available nutrients present in the said soil, so as to ensure vigorousness of the planted species in the same area.
Slope stabilization using engineering and vegetative controls is also part of the rehabilitation process in areas susceptible to soil erosion. Engineering controls are used by installing coconets and barring using vegetative spoil, minimizing and salvaging waste, thereby, maximizing use of natural resources. On the other side of the coin, vegetative controls are used by seeding among others grass species or leguminous shrubs such as vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), kakauate (Gliricidia sepium), Ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala), etc.
Finally, planting of appropriate tree species is done based on the soil condition, climatic conditions, topography, aspect, and elevation.
The rehabilitation of the EMI specifically aims to:
- Protect public health and safety;
- Alleviate or eliminate environmental damage;
- Achieve a productive use of land or return to its original condition or acceptable alternative use; and
- To the extend achievable, provide sustainability of social and economic benefits to affected communities.
Forest Nurseries are the establishment constructed mainly for propagating, raising, and handling of mix seedlings compose of forest trees, fruit trees, herbal and ornamental plants, etc., in preparation for permanent planting. Ideally, nurseries are used mainly to produce seedlings where direct seeding is not applicable, to provide maximum care from germination to seedling stage, and to allow continuous planting stock production for planting operations.
At present, the EMI has established two (2) nurseries, classified as containerized nursery production system, both located in parcel 5 in Bolas area. The central nursery was established which was the primary source of seedling then, and can accommodate up to 120,000 seedlings. Today, the central nursery is utilized primarily to engender soil implements, venue for fabrication and civil works, and houses livestock such as goats, pigs, and fishes such as catfish and tilapia. The potting area located in the same nursery is now converted into pig pen, where pigs are raised. Additionally, a portion of the central nursery was also converted to goat shed. 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 wherein goats and pigs were bought for sustainable soil implements production and to serve as food to the company’s messhall. The manure produced by goats and pigs are subjected to composting for organic fertilizer production. Moreover, bulk of the biodegradable wastes produced by the company is kitchen waste or victuals remains. After systematic recording at EMI’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF), these kitchen wastes are distributed to the nursery for composting. The kitchen wastes are dumped in a compost pit where they are covered by a mix of soil and carbonized rice hull after accumulating a certain magnitude. The compost pit is then left for several months with minor maintenance to allow natural decomposition.
An astronomically immense part of the plains of Sta. Cruz, Zambales are utilized for rice farming. As such, rice hull is abundant in the area. With the Carbonized Rice Hull (CRH) proven to be a very efficacious soil ameliorant, the company provides supplemental income to farmers by purchasing their rice hull. These rice hulls are then cooked in a facility housed within the nursery to engender CRH. Likewise, a vermiculture facility is also housed within the central nursery area, is well-maintained by the envi personnel and still produces vermicompost up to the present. The company utilizes the African night crawler to decompose ruminant’s manure turning it into an organic-rich soil ameliorant. Presently, the central nursery can accommodate 100,000 seedlings attributable to land use change.
Table 1 shows the accomplishment for the produced soil ameliorants or implements for C.Y. 2021 and 2022. For 2021, it can be seen that the accomplishment for the of soil implements ranges from 100% to 912%, wherein shredding of animal manure has the highest accomplishment among all produce.
The EMI also boasts its nearly completed one-hectare satellite nursery established this C.Y. 2022, which is located at Central Bolas. The verbalized nursery can accommodate up to 500,000 seedlings for the company’s rehabilitation activities. The satellite nursery withal features hydroponics area, herbal and ornamental area, 2 rearing sheds, potting shed, storage room, cytokinin dome, comfort rooms, and MEPED Office, which additionally accommodates as the Forest Research Center or Laboratory (FORLAB) that too serves as Research/Instructional Nursery 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 ameliorate climatic conditions.
As of today, the satellite nursery has established twenty-two (22) germination beds for the production of planting stocks. Likewise, the nursery houses 47 species of forest trees (87% of which are endemic/native/indigenous species), 37 species of herbal and ornamental plants, 24 species of agroforestry fruit trees and vegetable crops. Tables 2, 3, and 4 shows the forest and fruit trees seedlings produced in the central and satellite nursery for C.Y. 2021 and 2022, respectively. Moreover for 2022, a total of 20,559 seedlings were propagated for herbal and ornamental species, 88,189 seedlings for agroforestry crops, and 240,000 sorghum seedlings.
Table 2. Seedling Production 1H C.Y. 2021
Table 3. Seedling Production 2H C.Y. 2021
Furthermore, the satellite nursery is equipped with its Automated Weather Station (AWS) which is utilized to monitor, transmit and record wind direction, temperature, precipitation, etc. This station covers the whole Pimmagong and Bolas area. Another AWS is installed in Block B North to cover the areas in Avretilon, Block B North, Block B South, Block AB and Block A.
The Rehabilitation of the company includes among other activities such as: plantation establishment, maintenance and protection of old Permanent Rehabilitation Project (PRP) areas and Temporary Re-vegetation Project (TRP) areas, enhancement of biodiversity conservation areas, buffer zone and non-mineable areas, establishment of bamboo plantations, and decommissioning of roads and silt ponds. Similarly, the progressive rehabilitation is divided into three (3) components: reforestation, agroforestry, and landscaping and aesthetic enhancement.
For C.Y. 2021, the company has rehabilitated a total area of 60.00 ha for its reforestation activities and established a total of 0.30 ha for its Landscaping and Aesthetic Enhancement. Also, maintenance of its 10.00 ha Agroforestry (Gulayan sa Minahan) was done in the same year. It was also the same year were the company started planting grasses and vines for its revegetation program. A total of 21,719,248 grasses were broadcasted in areas of East Pimmagong, Upper Bolas, and Block B. The grass species used were the following: calopognium, centrosema, kudzu, and mani-mani. Moreover, the company has planted a total of 73,708 vetiver tillers in PRP and TRP areas. Greening using grasses were imperative to control and mitigate siltation in disturbed areas.
In the first half of C.Y. 2022, a total of 17.25 ha was rehabilitated comprising of 15,098 seedlings (7.26 ha for mine-disturbed area; and 9.97 ha for undisturbed area). Furthermore, a total of 10.72 ha of Landscaped area, agroforestry, and bamboo plantation were maintained during the same year. The Agroforestry plantation has also yielded a total of 364.90kg of mix vegetables like bittergourd, chilies (tangara, labuyo, pangsigang), cucumber, eggplant, okra, upo, among others. 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. In the month of June alone, the Envi personnel produces a total of 60 jars of chili-oil. 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.
This year, the company utilizes its hydroseeder equipment for the revegetation of grasses and weeds. Due to its maneuverability and efficiency, hastened rehabilitation for understories and ground cover was achieved. A total of 14,932,711 seeds of grasses like talahib, cogon, napier, Bermuda, and mani-mani were sown in the mine area using the said equipment. Additionally, a total of 3,583 seedlings of hebal and ornamental plants were planted at Bolas Basit Area and 5,372 seedlings were maintained in East Pimmagong Area. Moreover, a total of 1.21 km of road was decommissioned. As shown in table 5, a total of 324,438 tree species as of June 2022, were planted in the mining tenement area of the company which covers a total rehabilitated area of 162.64 ha.
Table 5. Outplanted Seedlings as of June C.Y. 2022
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), World Ocean Day (June 8, 2022), and Philippine Environment Month (June 2022). The 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
For the Philippine Environment Month, donation of information boards, Personal Protective Equipment, and Trash bins were conducted for the management of the Sagrada Familia Caves. Likewise, a clean-up drive activity was done inside the said area. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing was also conducted between the Mead Foundation, MGB, and EMI for the Annual Assistance for the Pawikan Project.
Photographs/Exhibits of All Aspects of Forestry Development Activities