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Restoration and protection measures are implemented for both the disturbed and non-disturbed areas within the mining operations areas. Extensive use and placement of natural abaca netting on the reshaped areas is being done to reduce erosion and better facilitate the re-vegetation program. Where soil losses were unavoidable, sediment ponds are constructed around the perimeter of the disturbed areas. Sediment collected within these ponds is periodically removed and stockpiled for future topsoil cover and re-vegetation activities. The ponds themselves are constructed of reinforced earth structures that are flexible and can easily be removed, relocated and planted to blend within the natural topography and vegetation.
Tree, shrub and grass planting activities assist the natural reforestation process. Approximately 250,000 trees have been planted within and around the Canatuan project area. Multiple species are used to enhance the bio-diversity and improve the restored wildlife habitat. These include mangium, gmelina, mahogany, narra, rubber and bamboo. Native grasses and low shrubs are also planted to improve soil stability and provide lower undergrowth vegetation zones. Approximately 50 hectares (124 acres) within the Canatuan project area have been replanted and are undergoing active reforestation.
The supply of seedlings, root stock and grasses are provided by our nursery located onsite and by private nurseries within the local communities. Our nursery facility continues to expand to serve the increased planting programs. We have also initiated employment of local residents to collect native grass and other vegetation seeds for broadcast and planting.
Daily, weekly and quarterly water quality monitoring of the tailings impoundments, streams and rivers continues on an ongoing basis. Seventeen long term monitoring stations are sampled on a quarterly basis by a multi-partite monitoring team headed by the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau. Results of the sampling and laboratory testing programs indicate that the water quality continues to meet the regulatory and permit conditions.
In addition to the programs above, we implement four environmental monitoring programs: aquatic resources monitoring, air quality testing, noise monitoring, and terrestrial flora and fauna monitoring.
One of our goals is to return the Canatuan mine to its natural and stable state, thereby making it available to the Subanons for other uses. We have been looking at mine reclamation techniques that can be applied to Canatuan at the end of the mine life. Decisions on the final rehabilitation and reclamation plan, however, will be made once we have gathered sufficient data and once consultations have been made with the Subanon as part of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan.