Philex appeal vs fine rejectedBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday denied with finality the appeal of Philex Mining Corp. in connection with the P1.034-billion fine slapped on the company for the tailing leak at its mining site in Benguet following days of incessant rains.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the MGB informed Philex of its decision in a letter sent on Tuesday rejecting the company’s explanation that the spill of 20.6 million metric tons of sediments from a tailing pond of the Philex facility in Itogon, Benguet, was “force majeure,” or an unavoidable accident.
In a phone interview Tuesday night, Paje said MGB’s director Leo Jasareno signed the letter denying Philex’ motion for reconsideration. No official of Philex could be reached for comment Tuesday.
“On our end, their motion is denied with finality. However, they may still exhaust all administrative and legal remedies,” such as by asking the Office of the President to overturn the MGB’s decision, Paje said.
The Philex tailings pond started to leak in August following heavy rains spawned by back-to-back typhoons, for which the company was fined P1.034 billion, calculated based on the bulk density of 1.531 tons solid per cubic meter of the mine tailings.
Because of the leaks, sediments from the mining facility flowed into the Balog River, a tributary of the Agno River, which is the source of water of the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan.
Philex protested the imposition of the fine, arguing that no one could have prevented the accident. But MGB upheld its findings and ordered Philex to settle its obligations within 45 days.
Philex Mining is the largest gold and copper producer in the Philippines. It suspended operations following the tailings leak.
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