Category Archives: Mine

A throwback to Rio Tuba Nickel Mine

Midst all the controversy the mining industry is going through, I couldn’t help but look back on the stories I’ve done for the industry as a whole.

Nickel Asia Corporation was my first mine. It was also what set the benchmark earlier on in my profession as a Journalist, what an ethically-run mine looked like.

Once you’ve seen the best, it would be beneath anyone to look for anything less. The standards they’ve set up for their employees, adopted communities and IPs, operations, health and safety are extremely hard to live up to.

Allow me to get this out: This is by no means a paid ad. I am only showing you, my dear reader, what it was like for me when I took the plane there and saw for myself how professional mines are run. Together with Diwata & Atty. Patricia Bunye, I am glad I took that trip years ago.

The night of 16 July 2014, typhoon Glenda  with international name Rammasun, struck the country with ferocity. My colleagues from Diwata waited restlessly for the airline companies to cancel flights. No announcement came.

First thing on the morning of 17 July, we all flew to Puerto Princesa, Palawan to visit nickel mining company Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation at their mine site in Bataraza.

The 1 hour flight was uneventful. The road trip was a different story. The party I was with were going topsy-turvy in their seats because of the rough road with bags flying everywhere. It was a hilarious and glorious 4 hours of rough road!

What awaited us when we arrived at the hotel was a quick break and a shower. Eventually we all had to head out to explore the mine site, the communities and learn what mining has really done for that small patch of Palawan.

Below are  memories captured in photographs.



I apologize if these photos don’t do much justice for the experience, but this is as far as I can share: You have to go there and see for yourself.

Ask a geologist, engineer or someone from the academe. Ask them what makes a responsible mine. Do your own research.

It’s not enough that you read it on the news or watch it on TV or the internet. Ignorance is dangerous and we cannot afford ignorance right now especially if millions of lives hang on the balance.

Even before the term ‘responsible mining’ was trendy, Rio Tuba was already at the forefront. It may have been my first mine, but it certainly won’t be my last.


Liked this story? please contact the Author:
mpatolentino at gmail dot com





OceanaGold Open Asia’s First Underground Mine Site Simulation in the Philippines

September 8, 2015 [Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga Philippines] – The Philippines is literally the central most location in South East Asia and often referred to as the “Crossroads of Asia” being just 90 minutes away to Taiwan, Hong Kong and China and four hours to Japan, Korea and Singapore. The Philippines is also the 4th largest English speaking country in the World with over 10 million Filipino working overseas. With its low operating costs and abundant English speaking workforce, it was a natural location for the building of Asia’s only Underground Metalliferous Mining Simulator.

The new US$2 million OceanaGold facility, which was delivered in partnership with Site Skills Training, is the first of its kind in the Philippines, and within Asia. Located in the Clark Freeport Zone of Pampanga, Philippines, the 240 square meters state of the art facility produces underground tunnel environment with standbys and drives for jumbo operations, fuel refilling, vehicle storage, a refuge chamber, crib room and magazine replicating the areas with the same equipment found within an underground mine.

Asia's First Underground Mine Site Simulation opens in the Philippines.
Asia’s First Underground Mine Site Simulation opens in the Philippines.
The tunnel leading to the underground mine.
The tunnel leading to the underground mine.
Torches for the trip inside.
Torches for the trip inside.
Safety first. Filipino miners dressed for work.
Safety first. Filipino miners dressed for work.
CEO Wilkes opens the facility inside the tunnel itself.
Oceana Gold CEO Wilkes opens the facility inside the tunnel itself.
A refueling station can be found inside the mine. Here, a car is brought inside the underground mine to get juiced up.
A refueling station can be found inside the mine. Here, a car is brought inside the underground mine to get juiced up.


The author and her colleague getting their safety gear on.
The author and her colleague getting their safety gear on.

OceanaGold constructed this international facility to train competent and highly-skilled underground miners for its Didipio Underground Mine and other national and international recognized companies while providing students an immersive environment to best prepare for the work in an underground mine. In addition to the official opening of the training facility, OceanaGold also introduced the intensive and structured 4 month training course, called the Competency though Learning (CTL) Program which will deliver accredited skills and competence to local-hired students, equip them with necessary skills to be highly proficient underground mine professionals.

Mick Wilkes, Managing Director and CEO, said “the facility demonstrates the company’s commitment to excellence in training and to creating more opportunities for future mining professionals. It offers future mining professionals an opportunity to learn and develop their skills in a simulated environment and ensure they are safe and ready to commence work when they arrive on site.”

With the goal of upskilling mining workers to meet the needs of the industry, Asia’s only Underground Metalliferous Mine Simulator provides for an immersive training environment that best prepares workers for real life situations. It also allows workers to be trained to the required level using the correct procedures without affecting production. The aim is to develop globally competitive mining professionals.

About OceanaGold:
OceanaGold is a significant multinational gold producer with mines located in New Zealand and the Philippines. In the Philippines, OceanaGold owns and operates its flagship operation, The Didipio Gold-Copper Mine located on the Island of Luzon. OceanaGold has operated sustainably over the past 25 years with a proven track record for environmental management and community and social engagement. The Company has a strong social license to operate and works collaboratively with its valued stakeholders to identify and invest in social programs that are designed to build capacity and not dependency. In 2015, the Company expects to produce and attribute 380,000 to 410,000 ounces of gold from the combined New Zealand and Didipio operations and produce 22,000 to 23,500 tonnes of copper from the Didipio operation.

About Site Skills Training:
SST delivers Australian recognized and international practice tailored training, assessment and competency assurance for trade specific and industrial skills for clients from training centers and on-site client locations internationally. Aside from the Philippine facility, SST also operates on Australian campuses in Darwin, Gladstone, Perth and the Sunshine Coast.