Environmental group urges gov’t to stop Philex Mines operations

BENGUET — Citing environmental concerns over the continuous operations of the mining company Philex Mines in Padcal, Benguet, environmental organizations led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment urged the national government to consider the environmental and livelihood effects of the mining operation in Benguet.

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Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan PNE said the mining company poses a great risk to the safety and lives of people living along the mining site.

In August last year, Philex confirmed four leaks in its tailings pond due to unfavorable weather. Mine sediments flowed into the Balog Creek and the Agno River. The company was asked to pay over a billion peso fine. It’s operation was suspended then by the national government.

At present, according to the Philex company, a P327 million spillway project is being built to ensure the safe movement of water from the tailings ponds of the Padcal Mine. The spillway plays a crucial part in rehabilitation of tailings storage facility no. 3, as it will drain accumulated water away from the offset dike, which serves as a barrier to the tailings and the main dike.

Philex Mining chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company is on track to complete the mine’s rehabilitation and should be allowed to continue its operations in Benguet.

On the other hand, the Provincial Board of Benguet has formally appealed to government regulators, to extend the four-month permit they issued to Philex Mining Corp. for the resumption of its operations at Padcal Mine.

In its Resolution No. 13-113, dated May 6, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Office, in La Trinidad, said that allowing Philex Mining to continue operating would also be beneficial to local government units (LGUs) hosting the company as well as their constituents.

It also stressed that Philex Mining, through its ongoing rehabilitation program, has restored the “safety and integrity” of Padcal’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF), in Itogon, after the tailings-leak accident last Aug. 1.

The three-page resolution, attested by Vice Governor and Presiding Officer Crescenciano Pacalso, has sent the formal request to Fay Apil, officer-in-charge of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) at the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), in Baguio City.

“Resolved, as it is hereby done to request the MGB-CAR thru Ms. Fay W. Apil … to extend the four (4) months temporary permit to operate issued to the Philippine Mining Corporation,” the resolution said.

The go-signal given by MGB-CAR, a part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to Philex Mining for the temporary resumption of its gold-and-copper production at Padcal Mine expires July 7.

Philex Mining voluntarily suspended operations at Padcal Mine last Aug. 1, when nontoxic tailings accidentally discharged at its TSF3 after historically unprecedented heavy rains broughtabout by two successive typhoons.

 

Photo courtesy of Philex Mining Corp.

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