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JICA scholarship program backs HR development in Philippine mining sector

The "KIZUNA" Scholarship Program / "KIZUNA" means "the bonds of friendship" in Japanese

Japan International Cooperation Agency
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Japan International Cooperation Agency

Scholars are given study opportunities in Japan in areas such as economic ecology, exploration geophysics, resources production and safety engineering, and energy resources engineering.

Recognizing the potential of the mining sector in the economies of developing countries such as the Philippines, a scholarship program of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has focused on targeting scholars and training them in Japan on mining development.

The "KIZUNA" Scholarship Program or "Human Resources Development for Government Officers and Researchers in Mineral Resources Rich Countries" targets government officials, educators, and researchers from JICA partner countries. Scholars are given study opportunities in Japan in areas such as economic ecology, exploration geophysics, resources production and safety engineering, and energy resources engineering. In addition, KIZUNA scholars can deepen their understanding of the Japanese society, culture, etc. to become robust bridges between two nations and to enhance our close relationship. "KIZUNA" means "the bonds of friendship" in Japanese.

In the Philippines, a Filipino senior geologist from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) was the first Filipino to complete this JICA's unique program for the mining sector. Mel Anthony Casulla completed his doctorate degree from Japan's Kyushu University under the KIZUNA program and is bringing in new ideas in mineral resources development in the country.

His research "Geophysical Investigations to Image Crustal Features and Potential Mineralization in the Philippine Island Arc System" was completed under the scholarship. "The Philippines is a complex island arc system where many regions still lack geophysical studies. My research focused on understanding the regional geology and tectonics of the Philippines and the characterization of potential copper-gold mineralization in Eastern Labo in Bicol. We really need this kind of studies if we are to promote mineral resources development," said Dr. Casulla.

Dr. Casulla also noted that Japan uses advanced technologies such as Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) to organize their mineral-related activities. "I learned from Japan how science-based approach in decision making can solve common society problems. I hope that my research will give new insights and interpretation of the Philippines' mineral potential," he said.

"I think our policy makers should always strive to build a win-win relationship in mineral resources development," Casulla added.

In an effort to offer suitable measures for responsible mining, reduce the negative effects of mining on biodiversity, and ensure biodiversity conservation, DENR issued administrative order (DAO) 2022-04. This DAO acts as the nation's standards for responsible mining and attempts to address Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production.

Mineral resources development is a means for countries to develop their industries. However, there is a need for governments to promote and regulate mining companies. Such capacity development will also help clarify aspects of mineral development businesses such as mine safety, pollution, socioeconomic measures, or laws as well as those affecting the environment.

"Based on what I learned from the short-term summer program of the KIZUNA Program, in order to attain sustainable development in mining sector, mining companies, government and communities must all be involved in all stages of exploration, development, operation, and closure," said Dr. Casulla

Under the program, scholars are given the opportunity to finish a master's or doctorate degree and take additional short-term programs including tours in mining sites and offices in Japan. The program also offers internships for up to six months.

"The KIZUNA Program promotes mutual learning between Japan and the Philippines. By promoting research in the mining sector, we can achieve sustainable socioeconomic development and benefit our countries' industries," said JICA Chief Representative, SAKAMOTO Takema.

Other target participants to the JICA KIZUNA Program are Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Mongolia, Ecuador, and Angola to cite a few.

About JICA:
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is the executing agency of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA), which handles technical cooperation, ODA loans and investment, and grant aid, as well as cooperation volunteers and disaster relief programs. JICA is the world's largest bilateral aid agency with its scale of operations amounting to about JPY 1,536.1 billion for JFY 2021 and a worldwide network of almost 100 overseas offices including the Philippines.
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