Philex to reopen mine after 2 years
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) had lifted its cease-and-desist order on Philex Mining Corp.’s Padcal mine in Benguet province, almost two years after Philex suffered a spill in its mine tailings dam, an official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said on Thursday.
The PAB lifted the order on June 9 after Philex paid P188.6 million in fines for the damage caused by the mine wastes that spilled into a creek and a major river in 2012, said Fay Apil, the MGB Cordillera regional director. The payments were made last June 5, she said.
But Apil said Philex continues to operate using a temporary permit until government regulators are satisfied that its waste facility is now safe.
“We can only clear Philex if the company is able to accomplish satisfactorily the full rehabilitation and remediation program of its tailings storage facility 3 (TSF3),” she said.
Michael Toledo, Philex Mining’s senior vice president for corporate affairs, welcomed the decision, saying the company would continue to work further as a responsible miner by marching on with its environmental-stewardship advocacy through the various forestation and reforestation activities, as well as the rehabilitation of TSF3, including the completion of an open spillway.
Over 20 million metric tons of mine waste, accumulated for decades by Philex’s Padcal mine operations, were discharged from TSF3 into the Balog Creek and the Agno River after a breach during strong rains on Aug. 1, 2012.
The Padcal mine straddles the Benguet towns of Itogon and Tuba.
In a text message, Eduardo Aratas, the Padcal mine’s legal officer, said the company had completed repairs on TSF3 by filling up the void or vacuum that was created when the contents of the tailings facility leaked.
To date, TSF3 has been operating to standards, Aratas said.
Apil said the MGB still had to examine the repair work and was awaiting word from the agency’s Metro Manila central office as to how it would proceed.
In a statement, Philex said it had received the PAB order lifting the cease-and-desist order on June 18.
It said the company paid P188.6 million as “environmental obligation” to the PAB, in relation to Republic Act No. 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004, on June 5. Philex said it also paid P1.034 billion to the MGB on Feb. 18, 2013, for the “accidental discharge of sediment.”
In a message to stockholders, Philex chair Manuel Pangilinan said the company had been fully transparent about the accident and how it dealt with repairs.
“Philex Mining Corp. provided full, timely and truthful disclosures not only about the accident, but also the bold steps it has taken to remedy the damage and prevent it from happening again,” he said in his message posted on the company website (www.philexmining.com.ph).
The accident had been bad for the firm, Pangilinan said.
“Philex Mining’s results of operations ended in a consolidated net loss of P294.6 million for 2012, compared with the record consolidated net income of P5.8 billion in 2011. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization amounted to P1.025 billion in 2012, compared with P8.851 billion in 2011,” he said.
“Also, as a result of the voluntary suspension of operations at Padcal mines… Philex Mining posted a consolidated operating revenue of P9.137 billion in 2012, down 43 percent from the full-year operating revenues of P16.134 billion in 2011,” he said.
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