TUBA, Benguet – Not only had it enlivened an atmosphere of competitiveness among employees of Padcal mine, the gold-and-copper operations of Philex Mining Corp. in this province, but also driven home an important message on environmental protection.
A total of 47,873 seeds of various fruit-bearing trees and tropical plants had been collected by Padcal’s Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept. (EQMED) from the staff members of its fellow 14 departments/divisions between May and December. A nonparticipating department, the EQMED contributed 11,448 seeds toward the project, bringing to 59,321 the total number of seeds collected.
This sprouted from the EQMED’s pilot project dubbed “Sa Buto May Buhay” (In a Seed There’s Life), where three departments/divisions emerged as winners, with the Mine Geology and Exploration Div. as the champion, garnering 7,083.3 points from the 7,011 seeds it submitted, followed by the Legal Div. & Legal Dept. (6,432.9: 11,187), and the Mill Div. (4,144.6: 4,340). The winners received P3,000 and a plaque for the champion; P1,500, first runner-up; and P500, second runner-up.
EQMED Manager Julius Bayogan said the collected seeds had been sent to the 10,000-square-meter (sq. m.) or 1-hectare (ha.) Philex nursery, in Itogon’ barangay Ampucao, for germination. “We are delighted with the result of this pilot project, as we have collected thousands of seeds that would help tremendously in our tree-planting program,” he added, stressing that his office is considering making this an ongoing activity.
He said the seed of a certain tree had a corresponding value, hence the points garnered as the basis in the ranking of winners. A mango or an avocado seed, for instance, got five points, while that of a santol, pomelo, or rambutan got one point, and that of a papaya or a lemon got 0.1 point. A guava seed was assigned a score of 0.02 point.
The project could save the company up to P200,000 in seeds purchases every year, according to EQMED’s Jessica Peralta, who was in-charge of logging in the seeds that had been contributed toward the seed-bank project.
“Another benefit of this project is that we are promoting a healthier living since the fruits can provide the vitamins that our body needs, most especially Vitamin C, to boost our immune system,” Peralta said in a report. She added that this was also being compliant with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, “since we are decreasing the biodegradable wastes being collected,” as well as complemented the other projects on environmental protection like tree planting.
Padcal mine’s reforestation project last year had its personnel from the 15 departments/divisions volunteering for its kick-off, planting forest trees and tropical plants as part of the activity that had a budget of P910,281. The activity had been reinforced through the company’s engagement of 10 contractors, each with a team of at least five people.
The 2017 budget for reforestation reached a total of P2.1 million, including the maintenance of areas that had been reforested earlier. EQMED personnel and contracted individuals worked side-by-side in maintaining the reforested areas through ring weeding, applying fertilizers, and planting of seedlings to replace the trees that did not survive.