Philex workers, Benguet tribe seek mine's reopening

by Lois Calderon, ANC

Posted at Feb 06 2013 03:39 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2013 11:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Regulators have given Philex Mining until February 19 to pay the P1 billion fine for last year's waste spill at its Padcal mine in Benguet.

The mine has been closed since August last year when the tailings leak was first discovered. 

On Wednesday morning, some of Benguet's indigenous groups handed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau a letter seeking the reopening of the mine, which they say was a main source of their livelihood.

Philex workers backed by labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines also trooped to the MGB office.

"Once the rehabilitation plan is approved, the DENR will direct Philex to start the activities for rehabilitation including the full cleanup of areas affected by the tailings spill. The rehab will be done on fixed definite time frame with specific activities under an estimated budget," MGB director Leo Jasareno said.

"The proposed rehab plan of Philex includes the request for temporary lifting of suspension order and not a request for resumption of full operations," he added. 

Philex Mining has already been fined P1 billion by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources over the tailings spill. 

The DENR has said the amount Philex will be paying will be remitted in the Mine Wastes and Tailings Reserve Fund, which will be used to compensate damages caused by the tailings leak.

Aside from the monetary fine, Philex has also been required to submit a rehabilitation plan for the affected areas. 

The mine's closure resulted in a net loss of P1.5 million in the third quarter, although the company remains in the black based on a nine-month tally. - ANC