Our operations manage their environmental projects through Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programs (AEPEPs). These are prepared and submitted yearly for review to their respective Multi-Partite Mine Monitoring Teams (MMT) and Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committees, and finally for approval to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). The 1995 Mining Act requires minimum annual expenditures of 3 to 5% of direct mining and (where applicable) milling costs for environmental protection and remediation. This requirement is complied with, if not occasionally exceeded, by our operations. Dedicated and qualified environmental teams in each of our operations are responsible for preparing and implementing their respective AEPEPs. Their work is subject to quarterly audits by the MMTs composed of representatives of the MGB, the Environmental Management Bureau, local government officials, and civil society organizations.
Lateritic nickel deposits are shallow and their extraction does not require the use of explosives. The environmental impact of our mining operations is therefore limited to ground disturbance that can result in erosion and sedimentation, and dust. The AEPEPs of our operations provide for erosion and sedimentation control primarily through the use of sediment settling ponds, which are regularly maintained. Removal of the sediment material is a periodic activity and where appropriate, the material is used as backfill in the rehabilitation of mined out areas. Supplementary measures for rainfall erosion include soil covers, drainage structures to keep surface runoff away from disturbed areas and water velocity reducers. For dust control, windbreaks and water sprays along road networks are being used.
Our AEPEPs also provide for progressive rehabilitation of mined-out areas. This involves re-contouring of the ground, provision of backfill material where required and adequate topsoil, and re-vegetation using native species that are grown in nurseries at each of our operations. With proper care and maintenance, survival rates have averaged over 85%. The nurseries at our four mine sites have the capacity to grow about 200,000 seedlings per year of native species that are suitable for mine rehabilitation. In 2010, the combined environmental expenditures of our four operating mines amounted to P88.7 million.
RIO TUBA NICKEL MINING CORPORATION
In 2010, rehabilitation was started on 14 hectares (has.) of mined-out areas with re-contouring and planting of over 16,000 seedlings. This brings the total mined-out areas rehabilitated to-date to 238 has. with over 500,000 seedlings planted. Outside of the mining areas, 48 has. have been planted with over 19,000 seedlings, bringing the total to-date to 298 has. with over 300,000 seedlings planted. RTN also maintains a 6 has. mangrove plantation and over 4,000 propagules were planted during the year, brining the total to over 16,000 propagules planted. Continuous maintenance of silt sumps and ponds located in strategic areas of the mine site were conducted throughout the year.
For its exemplary environmental programs, RTN received the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award - Platinum Achievement (surface mining category) during the 2010 annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference.
TAGANITO MINING CORPORATION
Backfilling of close to 40 tonnes of soil material was carried out during the year in specific mined out areas scheduled for rehabilitation. The total mined out areas rehabilitated to-date amounts to 71 has. with over 100,000 seedlings planted. Outside of the mined out areas, 21.5 has. have been planted with over 50,000 seedlings, brining the total to 251 has. with over 320,000 seedlings planted. TMC as well maintains a 4 has. mangrove plantation with over 10,000 propagules planted to–date.
CAGDIANAO MINING CORPORATION
A total of over 7,000 seedlings of various species in over 6.5 has. outside of the mining areas was planted during the year in review. This brings the total to over 70,000 seedlings planted in 84 has. within CMC's permitted area that has been targeted for reforestation. Organic fertilizer from the company's vermi-compost project is being used to improve survival rates. Also during the year the company planted over 1,000 mangrove propagules in 0.4 has. within a marine protected area that the company is maintaining. To-date, close to 5,000 propagules have been planted.
Similar to RTN, for its exemplary environmental programs, CMC received the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award - Platinum Achievement (surface mining category) during the 2010 annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference.
HINATUAN MINING CORPORATION HMC rehabilitated 7.7 has. of newly mined out areas in 2010 with over 8,500 seedlings planted. Outside of the mining areas, over 1,200 seedlings were planted in a 1.1 has. area during the year. To-date, about of 25.3 has. have been planted with over 28,000 seedlings as part of HMC's reforestation projects. HMC also maintains a 2 has. mangrove plantation with close to 5,000 propagules planted to-date. During the year, HMC inaugurated a material recovery facility as part of its solid waste management program.