Philex agrees to pay in full P1.034B fine for mine spillBy Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Philex Mining Corp. will pay in full the P1.034-billion fine imposed by the government over the mine spill at its Padcal mines a day ahead of the deadline.
The gold and copper producer has promised to comply with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) penalty following the spill of 20 million metric tons of tailings from its Tailings Storage Facility 3 in Padcal in August last year, even if it claimed that there was no negligence on its part.
“We believe it was a result of the elements of nature—an event of force majeure. But even as we are not at fault, we share the concern of the government for the environment, thus we are paying the fee, as set by regulators, to cover the costs of remediation and rehabilitation activities,” said Michael Toledo, senior vice president for corporate affairs at Philex Mining.
Philex contested the fines twice at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, arguing that the mine spill was a result of a historically unprecedented heavy rainfall. Its appeals were denied by the MGB, which insisted that Philex was negligent.
Nonetheless, Toledo said the company would continue cooperating with government regulators to ensure the safety and integrity of its TSF3 and the rehabilitation of the areas affected by the accidental discharge of water and sediment from the pond at Padcal mines in Itogon, Benguet.
Philex had to pay the full amount of the penalty on or before the Feb. 19 deadline as MGB director Leo Jasareno announced yesterday that the agency had rejected the request of the mining company last Feb. 13 to pay the fine on an installment basis.
The payment, according to Jasareno, would be remitted to the National Treasury and accrue to the Mine Wastes and Tailings Reserve Fund, which will be used to pay claims for compensation for the damage caused by the mine spill.
Apart from the P1-billion fine for violating the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, Philex is facing P92.8 million in fines for polluting two water bodies—Balog creek and Agno River—and violating the Clean Water Act or the Republic Act 9275.
Philex has a pending request to the MGB to allow the resumption of its temporary operations in Padcal to ensure the stability of its tailings dam.