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Carmen Copper Corporation: Environmental Initiatives

Protecting the environment is of paramount concern for Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC), a subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation. As an environmental steward, the mining company based in Toledo City, Cebu, conserves its natural resources, restores forests, combats pollution, protects biodiversity and sustains its environment for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Climate change
CCC recognizes that climate change will have complex impacts on its business and especially its stakeholders. Changes to climate can cause disturbances to mine infrastructure, pose challenges to workers’ health and safety conditions, and increase the vulnerability of its host communities.
Lutherian Hernando, Conservation and Development Division Head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Visayas, said even before the pandemic has given the planet time to rest through movement restrictions and lockdowns, CCC has been exercising measures to uphold economic growth, health and safety of employees, and protection of the environment.
“The company has been very responsible in terms of ensuring the health and safety of its employees vis-à-vis continued implementation of programs to protect the environment. It is doing all this to the best of its abilities. It has been effecting a balanced prioritization for all these key areas that are of equal importance,” he said.
The responsibility, however, does not rest on the hands of the company alone.
“The communities of CCC must be vigilant too. They must coordinate and work together with the company in mitigating environmental threats before the worst happens. Addressing these threats must first start at this level and that is one of the reasons why the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team involves the community,” Hernando said.

Water quality and management
CCC sources freshwater from the Company-owned and –operated Malubog Dam. It was purposely built by Atlas Mining to collect, conserve and manage water flows at the mine. Because this dam supplies the requirements not only of CCC but also that of nearby communities through the Toledo City Water District, responsible water management is a high priority.

Given the long-term risks of water scarcity, CCC minimizes dependence on freshwater sources by pursuing operational efficiencies. The company likewise actively conserves its water source by investing in desilting activities to increase the water capacity of the dam to hold and store water.

Through its thickener plant and reclaimed water pumping system, CCC recovers water for reuse in its operations. About 62% of the company’s water requirements in 2020 utilized reclaimed water.

The company installed and maintains settling ponds and water treatment facilities to ensure that all rain runoff and effluents are properly treated prior to introduction into river systems traversing the mine site. A regular water sampling is conducted to monitor quality of water flowing from the facilities.

CCC also encourages the participation of its host communities in protecting waterways from pollution. The company’s participation to the DENR’s Adopt-an-Estero/Waterbody Program continues to gain more support from residents and other stakeholders in Barangay Cantabaco, Toledo City.

Under the Adopt-an-Estero/Waterbody Program, the company facilitates the conduct of regular clean-up in the area of concern to raise awareness on the importance of keeping the rivers and waterways clean for the safety, health and overall wellness of the community.

In several occasions, CCC mobilized employees and community members to conduct a clean-up activity along more than a kilometer stretch of river in Cantabaco.

More signage to educate the residents were installed while the Hugpong Cantabacoanon para sa Kinaiyahan, an association of residents of Barangay Cantabaco concerned for the environment, pledged to be vigilant, police areas of concern and report those who will violate the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The activity was also aimed at raising awareness on environmental protection and conservation in the spirit of Bayanihan.

Since the start of the Adopt-an-Estero Program, Cantabaco Barangay Captain Bernardo Villarin said nearby residents have become more vigilant and responsive in ensuring proper solid waste management.
But even with the positive change, Villarin said barangay peacekeepers continue to monitor rivers within Cantabaco to ensure that everyone heeds policies, and to educate kids and parents as well.

He pointed out how years of people’s disregard to proper solid waste management in the metropolitan area has led to rivers swelling at dangerous levels during downpour.

While this may not be the case for Cantabaco, he urged residents not to wait for the worst by supporting the Adopt-an-Estero/Waterbody Program and doing their part, too.

“We value the partnership we made with CCC because we are all united under one goal and that is to protect our rivers against pollution,” Villarin said in Cebuano.

Aside from cleaning rivers, CCC also sent volunteers to clean-up the shoreline of Barangay Matab-ang, Toledo City in celebration of the International Coastal Clean-up Day.

Spearheaded by the Environment and Natural Resources Toledo City Station, the coastal clean-up yielded 55 kilograms of combined biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. The activity aimed to educate households to practice segregation at source to prevent garbage from reaching the rivers and oceans.

Air quality

Every quarter, CCC’s Multi-Partite Monitoring Team conducts ambient air quality monitoring on key areas in its neighboring communities as part of the company’s health and safety protocols in compliance with the Philippine Clean Air Act. Results of the regular emission tests show that CCC’s air emissions are below national set limits. Despite this, the company continues to work to manage emissions through controls such as replacing old equipment and acquiring new measurement tools.

CCC maintains air quality within acceptable levels to keep its workers and communities safe from health issues that may arise from air pollution.

To minimize generation of dust, CCC also continuously dampens access roads through its water sprinkling trucks, installed water sprinklers in strategic locations, and established speed limits in its vast mining complex.

Land and waste management

In compliance with regulatory protocols and standards, CCC manages its effluents under its Waste Management Program.

The company manages its tailings through the Biga Tailings Storage Facility, a landlocked and secured containment pond. Under its Waste Management Program, CCC ensures that its structures are stable with the solids and liquids properly managed within the designated areas.

CCC’s domestic wastes are likewise prudently handled with due regard to environmental parameters and regulation set by the DENR with regular collection of residual, non-biodegradable, and recyclable waste. Meanwhile, CCC’s biodegradable waste is handled directly by the waste generator or unit concerned.

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Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA)
Main Office: 306 JBD Plaza, No. 65 Mindanao Ave., Brgy. Pag Asa, Quezon City