Mining is a temporary land use. After the minerals are recovered for their economic value, the mining area shall be rehabilitated. Progressive rehabilitation is a strategy for minimizing environmental risks by starting the environment restoration/rehabilitation before the end of the mine life. Rehabilitation starts with consultation with the people on the best possible land use after mining to ensure that the environment would be physically safe and stable.

In 2018, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte revealed about the status of mining in the Philippines:

“In six months, I do not want to see any bald piece of land there. If I don’t see trees as tall as me, better pack up, you can go, and that will be closed permanently,” Duterte said in one of his interviews in 2018.”

This served as a challenge imposed by the government to the extractive industries sometime in April 2018. By August 17, 2018, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued DENR Administrative Order No. 2018-19 re: Guidelines for Additional Environmental Measures for Operating Surface Metallic Mines. The Order aims to provide new environmental policies that will ensure sustainable environmental conditions at every stage of mining operation, and minimize the disturbed area of a mining project at any given time.

All mining projects in Bicol Region stood the challenge of President Duterte. For one, Masbate Gold Project a gold mining company in Barangay Puro, Aroroy in the Province of Masbate showed that responsible mining can be done. It started progressive rehabilitation in January 2012 prior to President Duterte’s declaration.

The Masbate Gold Project has three (3) rehabilitated areas being maintained: the Colorado Waste Dump; the Syndicate Waste Dump; and Holy Moses Basalt (HMBE) Stage 4 Waste Dump.

The Colorado Waste Dump with an area of 45 hectares began its rehabilitation in January 2012 and finished its activity by June 2016. It presently maintains its 39-hectare rehabilitated land.

The Colorado Waste Dump “before” and “after” Progressive Rehabilitation

While the HMBE Stage 4 Waste Dump started in September 2015 an area of 34 hectares - a rehabilitated area of 10.5 hectares and an ongoing rehabilitation of 23 hectares.

The Holy Moses Basalt (HMBE) Stage 4 Waste Dump “before” photo and “during” Progressive Rehabilitation. Taken during the MICC Review.

The Syndicate Waste Dump commenced its rehabilitation in November 2015, in less than 3 years it completely rehabilitated the 42-hectare waste dump. The area has 28,071 forest and crop trees; 23,201 intercrop trees; 371 bamboos and 16,941 cover crops.

The Syndicate Waste Dump “before” and “after” Progressive Rehabilitation.

This Progressive rehabilitation is an effort of the government to instill in the public mind that the extractive industry in the Philippines best exemplifies the promotion of responsible mining towards sustainable environment.

Indeed, there is such a doable thing as responsible mining!