Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) acknowledges the threats of any possible crisis in the communities by immediately activating the company’s built-in system of methodically responding to any emergency.
So when President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on March 15 as response to the threat of COVID-19, NAC through its subsidiaries – Cagdianao Mining (CMC), Dinapigue Mining (DMC), Hinatuan Mining (HMC), Rio Tuba Nickel Mining (RTN) and Taganito Mining (TMC) with Emerging Power, Inc. (EPI) and Cordillera Exploration Inc. (CExCI) – started expending more than P50 Million pesos from these companies’ realigned Social Development Management Program (SDMP) and Corporate Social Responsibility funds.
Mining companies regularly assume the role of ‘first-responders’ during natural calamities such as typhoons and/or earthquakes, ensuring that the people in the mining communities get the necessary assistance they need. And the threat of COVID-19 was no difference.
Mining companies are mandated by law to be responsible for the communities where they operate – designing and funding programs that provide jobs and boost the local economy in a sustainable manner.
The SDMP is a five-year plan budgeted to use as tool for the implementation of development programs in the mining communities, which the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has allowed to be realigned to assist the mining companies’ host communities during the pandemic.
The accumulated P50M were used in part to buy sacks of rice, food packs, vitamins, and medical supplies such as alcohol and hand sanitizers that were distributed to thousands of families and frontliners. Some of the funds were used to build isolation and disinfecting facilities and to fund the extensive information campaign necessary to educate the communities about the pandemic and how they can be protected from the virus.
The Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) and Community Organizers (COs), whose members are regular employees of these mining companies, were immediately deployed to help the people cope with the health crisis as soon as movements in the mining communities were restricted and the residents compelled to stay home.
“Food is the first requirement during a crisis, then medicine and first-aid kits, you have to have a steady supply of these to make the people feel protected, then everyone needed guidance and information so we provided those too,” says Engr. Arnilo C. Milaor,Resident Mine Manager for CMC.
A separate budget of P18M was turned over to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to build a molecular testing laboratory in Surigao City to support the province’s efforts for early detection of COVID-19 cases.
“The lab will be built with the P18M funding from Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. and from NAC subsidiaries – TMC and CMC. The host province of Surigao del Norte will provide the location while PRC will be the lead in the overall operations of the facility,” explains Engr. Artemio E. Valeroso, Resident Mine Manager for TMC.
As ‘first responders’, the mining companies also took care of the challenge of the face masks – the first supply to run out in the early days of the ECQ. The COs rallied the residents and employees to make washable masks and face shields that the companies bought and provided to families, employees and frontliners. NAC companies contributed more than 50,000 washable face masks and face shields allowing residents and frontliners in far-flung areas to have protection against the virus.
“It is in our DNA as responsible miners, to be present at every opportunity to protect the people in the mining communities, we are mandated by law yes, but our support go above and beyond,” says Engr. Francis J. Arañes, Jr., Resident Mine Manager for HMC.