What used to be a remote and virtually uninhabited area in Barangay Rio Tuba, town of Bataraza, in the southernmost tip of the province of Palawan, has evolved into a bustling community of over 17,000 people.
The days when there were more malaria-transmitting mosquitoes than people were long gone.
Now, there is a De La Salle-supervised private school, parks where children can plays, churches for as many religious groups present, a hospital, and even a clubhouse for residents to relax after work.
This sustainable transformation of Rio Tuba was made possible by the commitment of the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) to responsible mining and progressive rehabilitation.
“Our way of mining rehabilitation is actually toward ecosystem restoration. Ecosystem restoration is the spirit of Philippine Mining Law. The right advocacy is that mining has to be done responsibly,” said Dr. Bibiano P. Ranes, Mine Rehabilitation and Reforestation Consultant of RTNMC, which is an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC).
NAC Community Relations Group Manager, Reynaldo Dela Rosa added: “To sustain our efforts to promote responsible mining, our activities should always be science-based. Even our initiative in mining communities should be directed toward sustainable development goals.”
RTN believes that contributing to the restoration and protection of the rich forest ecosystem in Palawan is a moral obligation.
It rehabilitated about 200 hectares that were planted with over a million surviving trees of different species, including narra, ipil, apitong, agoho, udling, kupang, batino, tongkat ali, and amugis among others.
Over 600 hectares, on the other hand, have been reforested with native tree species, coffee, mangroves, botanical plant, and some industrial trees.
Over the years, NAC has likewise been a recipient of several sustainability awards, including the 1st ASEAN Mineral Awards for Best Practice in Sustainable Mineral Development (2017), Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (2002, 2003, 2015, 2018, 2020), Best Practices Champion in Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Towards Sustainable Development (2017), and Gawad Maka-Kalisakan for exemplary efforts in successfully implementing eco-efficient measures and advocacy that contributes in mitigating environmental impacts and its effects, consequently protecting environment, life on land/below water and our mother earth
On November 4, 2022, members of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) participated in a site visit at Rio Tuba.