THE country’s biggest gold miner Philex Mining Corp. on Wednesday said that it and its wholly owned subsidiary Silangan Mindanao Mining Corp. were already ISO-compliant.
“We are compliant,” Philex said, in response to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s call for an audit of mining companies to determine if their operations were benefiting the people and the environment or causing harm.
Lopez also said mining companies must have certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO) otherwise they could face suspension.
In her first press conference after assuming office, Lopez equated ISO-14001 certification with responsible mining.
“ISO 14001 is another way of saying responsible mining,” she said.
“If you’re really responsible, like, responsible, then you have to have the highest standards, and the standards we want for our beloved country is ISO 14001,” she added.
“That’s the law, that’s what the President said, and then you follow the law.”
Philex obtained its IMS Certification from TUV Rheinland as early as April 2015, while Silangan was awarded its ISO 14001 Certification last month before the Duterte administration came into office.
“With these certifications, we have emphasized our care for the environment and the safety of our people. Environmental awareness and looking after the safety of workers are the trademarks of a responsible miner,” said Eulalio Austin, Jr., Philex Mining CEO and president.
An IMS certification covers all company processes and the management requirements on environment as well as quality and labor protection.
It includes both ISO 14001:2004 certification for instituting a systematic approach for the improvement of performance in environmental protection and an OHSAS 18001:2007 certification, a recognized standard for the internal and external assessment of Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Management Systems.
Silangan Mindanao’s ISO 14001: 2004 certification was awarded for its pre-mining development activities given by Certification International Philippines.
“This is hard proof of Silangan’s hard work in establishing the culture of responsible mining. This certification is also a result of an actual audit done by an internationally accredited independent group. We are probably the first mining company who received an ISO 14001 certification prior to the actual mining operation,” said Yulo Perez, president and CEO of SMMCI.
Perez added that the certificate was in compliance with DENR Administrative Order 2015 – 07, which requires mining companies to secure ISO 14001 certificates to enforce environmental compliance and promote responsible and sustainable mining.
Lawyer Michael Toledo, Philex Mining’s senior vice president for public and regulatory affairs and head of the MVP Group media bureau, emphasized that in their combined 60 years of operations of “living the tradition of responsible mining,” Philex and SMMCI have both set the benchmark and inspiration for other mining companies to follow, as evidenced by their IMS and ISO certifications, numerous awards on corporate governance and sustainability, as well as active participation in government transparency initiatives.
“This is a yet another validation of global best practices that Philex Mining Corp. and Silangan Mindanao Mining have always aspired for and maintained. These certifications give strong assurances to existing and prospective investors and strategic partners of both Philex and Silangan on our excellence in operation, maintenance and rehabilitation practices,” he said.
Both Philex Mining and Silangan Mindanao Mining have also been recipients of numerous awards on environmental protection and mine safety.