I AM A PRODUCT OF MINING
Photo above shows MMDC Site General Manager Rodrigo Cal (leftmost, in light blue polo shirt) sharing a light moment with his team of junior and senior mine engineers in the Marcventures campsite in Carrascal, Surigao del Sur.
Born in March 1963, I am the youngest of 10 siblings in a mining community in Toledo City, Cebu, host of Atlas Mining, one of the largest copper mines in the country. I consider myself a product of mining.
When I was in my elementary years, my friends and I would play in a field, which used to be a mine waste dumpsite. We were quite fascinated with the glittering minerals found on the ground. We picked some rocks containing those yellowish crystalline minerals and kept it as “treasure”, thinking they were gold. Such fascination however, led me to become a geologist. Somehow, I was disappointed that our treasure turned out to be false gold: pyrite crystals, which were of very little value.
In one of my meetings with a group of Manobo tribal leaders, I was asked whether my current employer, Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) would continue to take in more scholars. Definitely, I answered.
That Marcventures has the most number of scholars in the Caraga Region is one of the things I appreciate most about Marcventures. For school year 2017-18 alone, the company helped 33 scholars to complete their college education.
I can always relate to these scholars because I myself was a mining company scholar and I doubt whether I would be able to take up Geology, offered only by a few schools in Manila, had I not become a scholar. Getting the scholarship was quite a challenge then as there were only three slots available per year, one each for mining, geology and metallurgy. The scholarship program was limited to employee dependents and the thing was, there were more than 10,000 employees of Atlas Mining then.
Right after graduating from the Mapua Institute of Technology in 1986, Atlas Mining hired me as a Junior Geologist for its Toledo copper mine. In October 1991, I was promoted as Chief Mine Geologist and as Division Manager for Open Pit Operations by October 1993. The Toledo copper mine had to suspend its mining operations in 1995 due to the very low copper prices then. I was made General Manager of Hexagon Mining Corporation, an Atlas Mining affiliate consultancy firm for exploration, mine geology, land and mining tenements acquisition/maintenance and mine surveying. In August 2001 I was transferred back to Atlas Mining as AVP-Resident Manager. When the Toledo copper mine resumed operations in October 2006, I was appointed VP-Resident Manager of Carmen Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of Atlas Mining, where I stayed on until I opted for an early retirement in mid-2016. Thereafter, I took consultancy work but after more than a year of being semi-retired, I felt the urge of finding another full-time job to keep me real busy again. I realized I retired too soon.
The opportunity to continue my mining career came in February this year when a former colleague informed me that Marcventures was looking for a mine site manager. Got excited but was hesitant at first because my entire mining experiences were in copper and Marcventures’ mining project at Carrascal-Cantilan, Surigao del Sur produces nickel. What pushed me to proceed in applying for the position is the fact that the mine site is near my late mother’s hometown in Sison, Surigao del Norte; this new adventure will be a homecoming of sorts. My father, a construction foreman of the Mabuhay gold mine left Surigao, together with the whole family, in the late ‘50s to work at the Atlas Mine in Cebu. I also thought that I could easily blend in or assimilate in a Surigao-located minesite as I can understand and somehow speak the Surigaonon dialect. Also, the Cebuano dialect is practically the second dialect in Surigao.
Prior to my eventual employment with Marcventures, I went on a site visit with the MMDC President, Mr. Yulo Perez. It helped a lot as it gave me first hand perspective of the objectives, expectations and challenges of the job.
I’m only into my 8th week at the mine site but I feel at home already. Top Management’s support for the mine site organization is strong and the mine site staff, a combination of experienced and young but promising engineers and professionals are stepping up to the challenges at hand.
It is my immediate goal to build and develop a mine site staff that would act as one, with its members doing their respective roles with the multi-faceted objective of making the company profitable by keeping operating costs low without compromising quality and safety as well as meeting the production targets, while at the same time nourishing our partnership with our host communities and managing the impact of our operations on the environment.
There is no more doubt in my mind that Marcventures would be my second employment home.