July 15, 2011
By Eduardo dela Cerna, Publisher and Editor of ‘Tingog Peninsula’
“I’m seeing a different world,” I said to myself as our vehicle began to ascend the all-weather access road from the Municipality of RT Lim, in Sibugay Province towards the mine site of TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) at Sitio Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. The Zamboanga del Norte Press Club Mine tour at the TVIRD Canatuan mine site was actually a side trip on July 8 that became an integral part of our annual Campus Journalism Seminar scheduled in Siocon the following day.
Seeing the area after more than a decade, I thought that indeed, time had changed almost everything here compared with what I can recall about the area. As we approached the mine site, I saw that things have changed a great deal for the better.
(Left) Engr. Eduardo "Ed" dela Cerna - "Rockbreaker" to friends, Editor-Publisher of Tingog Peninsula, and TVIRD Canatuan Mine Manager Pete Remoto, technical tour guide, share a light moment before the mine tour. (Right) Finance Manager and TVIRD Canatuan-OIC Jim Guillermo warmly welcomes ZN Press Club President Rosemarie Miranda who led her members in a tour which she once did five years ago with different members of the club.
The picture in my head was the old TVIRD mine facility that I visited way back in 2001 when the company was still struggling to operate. The Canatuan air was filled with the noise of rod mills of illegal small-scale miners, many with weariness written on their faces. The small miners’ wives tended to their shanties while their children, if not inside the narrow mine shafts and tunnels and carrying sacks of rocks, were playing on the dirt road. That pitiful scene will forever be etched in my memory. But I’m glad it’s just that now – a memory.
Today, Canatuan has been transformed into a bustling mountain community with a much-improved quality of life.
The company Clubhouse where we disembarked to attend the safety orientation and secure the safety gear for our mine tour reminded me of my old days at another mining firm in Cebu, where we also considered safety as a priority. Hard hats and reflectorized vests are a must-wear safety gear in TVIRD’s Canatuan mine facility. Everybody must adhere to the strictest safety rules and regulations .
(Top) Security Force Department Manager Paul Arias briefs the visitors on the security policy of TVIRD. (Middle) Zamboanga del Norte's members of the 4th estate are all ears as Senior Agriculturist Carlos Tuerco of the Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO) explains the rationale behind the distribution of 32 thousand rubber seedlings to Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) beneficiaries in Canatuan. (Bottom) Rock dela Cerna (middle) in an animated mood with Mine Manager Pete Remoto as Crispin Garcia, (foreground) The Mindanao Observer news editor listens.
The tour became even more interesting with TVIRD Canatuan Mine Manager Pete Remoto joining us as our technical tour guide, explaining to us and a few other mine and environment hard knocks, the fine points of an open pit mining operation, including how production targets can be achieved with utmost concern for the safety of the employees.
One area where we spent perhaps an hour at was the Sulphide tailings impoundment dam. It was an awesome sight for us visitors. The massiveness of the dam and the volume of water and mine tailings it can contain, amazed us, especially the first timers in the site.
We were likewise pleasantly surprised when we were brought to their mine waste dump demo farm. Planted in the waste dump is a common variety of rice. The lady nursery in-charge told us that Mines and Geoscience Bureau Region 9 Director Albert Jacildo was with the group that harvested the previous cropping. The nearby nursery area is TVIRD’s source of seedlings for the government required tree planting and reforestation program to make and convert the mined out areas into an environmentally sound habitat for various birds and animal species. Over time what used to be a mine waste land is gradually be transformed into a productive farm area where vegetables and crops can grow to provide food and additional livelihood opportunities for the Subanon indigenous people live in the area.
(Top) Dr. Ully Silorio, company physician shares TVIRD's medical services and health programs to residents of Canatuan and adjacent communities from Siocon town to the west and RT Lim, Sibugay Province to the east. (Middle) Forester Gemma Tolentino (far right) shows mediamen the nursery. (Botton right) National Grid Corporation of the Philipipines (NGCP) Corp. Affairs Field Officer Ma. Rosette Martinez poses with Public Affairs team Erica Etbew and Rianne Miranda after touring around TVIRD's Phase II Nursery.
TVIRD has a medical clinic manned by professional personnel who, despite being in a remote mountain village, manage to deliver proper medical services to residents of Canatuan and adjacent communities from Siocon 20 kilometers to the west and RT Lim 50 kilometers to the east. In an accident or a major health-related ailment, emergency medical treatment can be administered to a patient before his or her long trip to a city hospital may spell the difference between life and death. This clinic has saved many lives.
The residents are fortunate that the company has provided them the means to be able to stand on their own through projects that seek to advance sustainability beyond the life of mine. These projects are in the areas of livelihood development, education, skills training, health and sanitation. They also have the royalty payments from TVIRD that they can use for sustainable development initiatives that they will be charting through their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan, which, not surprisingly, TVIRD is also assisting them with putting together.
Our Canatuan mine tour was an enlightening experience. Truly, Canatuan is a different place now. And I’m glad it is.
(Top) CES Manager Engr. Ed Nercuit (in gray shirt) discusses the structural integrity of the Sulphide Dam. "The massiveness of the dam and the volume of water and mine tailings it can contain, amazed most of us, especially the first timers in the site, " Rock dela Cerna expresses. (Bottom) Process Engineer Isidro Macunding tours mediamen around the Concentrate Warehouse.
(Top) Rock dela Cerna and Crispin Garcia pose at the mine pit overlooking the Sulphide Dam. (Below) The ZN Press Club Inc. and the NGCP visitors pose for posterity after the tour.
Eduardo “Ed” dela Cerna – or “Rockbreaker to friends – is a licensed mining engineer. He is publisher and editor of Tingog Peninsula, a newsweekly circulating in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and the cities of Dipolog, Dapitan and Pagadian.