DENR allows Philex to open for 4 months

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MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday allowed Philex Mining Corp., the country’s biggest copper and gold producer, to resume its mining operations for remediation purposes.

In an order Tuesday, the DENR took note of the greater risk if the main dike of the Tailings Storage Facility 3 (TSF3) of Philex weakened further.

“The dike might collapse if the situation is not addressed immediately,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said.

The DENR said the operations of Philex for the purpose of filling the void in its tailings pond should not exceed four months.

Paje said the company may start operations as soon as its officials received a copy of the order.

Philex, a company controlled by businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, was held liable for the spill of 20 million metric tons of fresh tailings from its Padcal mine in Tuba, Benguet, on Aug. 1 last year and ordered to pay P1 billion in penalties.

Its operations have been suspended since August due to the spill that polluted two water bodies in Benguet, the Balog Creek and the Agno River, which is linked to the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan.

In a recent public hearing, Philex said it would carry out a “beaching process” by filling the void in the TSF3 caused by the mine spill with 3.5 million MT of fresh tailings. The company said the process was necessary to keep the stability of its mine facility and prevent another accident.—Niña P. Calleja

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