Strategically located in the west-central highlands of the island of Cebu lies the country’s largest copper mine and leading base metal exporter—the Carmen Copper Corporation’s Toledo Mine.
The mine was previously operated by its mother company, the Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (“Atlas”) from 1955 until 1994 when low metal price forced the company to suspend mining operations. In 2004, a major restructuring of Atlas led to the inception and incorporation of three separate subsidiaries, namely: Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC), Berong Nickel Corporation and AquaAtlas Inc. By 2006, CCC obtained through Crescent Asian Special Opportunities Portfolio, a Singapore-based investment group, a US$40 million funding package and US$100 million loan agreement with Deutsche Bank.
The infusion of start-up capital enabled CCC to start the Toledo mine and plant rehabilitation in 2007, which after 12 months later completed partial facility restoration and commenced commercial production of copper concentrates. Since December 2008 until the latest bulk loading, CCC has made 63 shipments of concentrates to China and Korea, totaling some 310,153 dry metric tons amounting to several million of dollars in sales value.
Remarkably, CCC ended 2011 with a soaring net income of Php2.54 billion, which makes it a highly recognized top copper mine in the Philippines. The company continues to improve throughput of copper ore from its Lutopan open pit operation and concentrate production from its Carmen processing plant. Plan is underway to ramp up mine and milling outputs from the current 40,000 tons to 60,000 tons per day by 2014.
Open Pit Mining
Open pit mining is a surface mine development and exploitation method that involves the extraction of ore materials or rocks from a valuable mineral deposit. The ore and waste materials are dug out from the mountain sides, forming a terrace-like excavation which eventually forms a huge cavity in the ground.
CCC’s current production is concentrated and sourced from the Lutopan Pit, in particular the north extension of the ore body. To meet production targets, huge hydraulic excavators and heavy-duty dump trucks are utilized to efficiently extract both ore and waste materials. Rotary drilling and blasting with dynamites are resorted to break the hard ores and rocks for easy and systematic digging, loading and hauling operations.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Carmen Copper Corporation recognizes the ecological and social impacts of its mining operations on the environment and surrounding communities as well. As mandated by stringent mining and environmental laws, CCC is required to address and mitigate these impacts by establishing and funding a Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) and its related Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP). These two programs comprise several components, such as tailings disposal system, acid mine drainage management, reforestation, sedimentation pond maintenance, and environmental/pollution monitoring under the EPEP umbrella. Projects under the SDMP range from livelihood programs, infrastructure and other social development related initiatives. The heart of the EPEP component, which CCC will expand and sustain even after its mine closure, is the reforestation and woodland protection project.
In December 2011, CCC’s Carmen Pit executives and staff chose to celebrate their Christmas in a unique and unusual manner. Instead of celebrating the Yuletide season with extravagant parties, they opted to spend a day giving back what they owe to Mother Nature, that is, by planting trees. With the cooperation of some volunteer CCC executives and staff, the green movement was made possible. Over a thousand Acacia seedlings of the auriculiformis species were planted on barren mine-affected areas in Barangay Biga, Toledo City.
With their humble attempts to repair and nurture the affected zones, they fervently hope that their tree-planting activity would serve as their genuine effort to restore the environment’s vitality even in their own little yet special way. The participants of the green movement that day went back to their homes tired but definitely with renewed optimism and a spirit of hope that for the future generations to come, they have served as good instruments who value life and nature as much as they value their family and society.
Reforestation programs, long-term sustainability initiatives and environmental protection projects are closely monitored and implemented by the company.
Aside from the vast barren areas planted and restored by the previous Atlas operations, CCC has planted from 2007 to 2011 more than 175,000 seedlings, covering a total area of 105 hectares of mine-affected lands and some 27,500 saplings solely for slope stabilization purposes.
Carmen Copper Corporation is located at Don Andres Soriano, Toledo City, Cebu. For more information, you may contact them at these telephone numbers: (032)467-1288, (032)467-1408, and (032)325-2215. You may also visit their Web site at http://atlasphilippines.com/.