Philex's Padcal mine can't resume operation next year

by Jonathan L. Mayuga, BusinessMirror

Posted at Nov 15 2012 07:49 AM | Updated as of Nov 15 2012 07:21 PM

BAGUIO CITY—Resumption by Philex Mining Corp. of operation of its Padcal mine in Benguet is not likely going to happen next year.

Philex first needs to rehabilitate damaged facilities, including Tailings Pond No. 3, or construct a new tailings pond, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) said on Wednesday.

Felizardo Gacad, MGB-CAR Mine Safety and Environment Division chief, told reporters during a news conference highlighting the 59th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference that rehabilitating Tailings Pond No. 3 will take years. It took Philex two months to plug a leak there. Developing a new tailings pond would require the company to go through the tedious process of securing necessary permits from concerned government offices.

Philex is stepping up rehabilitation of the Balog Creek and Agno River while looking for a suitable area to construct Tailings Pond No. 4, with the hope of resuming operation by June next year.

Gacad said the company may need to settle the P1.034 billion in fine imposed on it by the government for violations under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and an additional P200,000 fine per day until Philex plugged the leak in Tailings Pond No. 3.

The DENR-MGB is reviewing Philex’s comment on the fines that the government imposed, pointing out that the incident was a result of a force majeure and was not in any way a result of negligence on the part of the company.

Its CAR office, Gacad said, is yet to receive any complaint or claim for compensation for damage from affected residents along the Balog Creek and the Agno River.

To receive compensation for any damage that the Padcal incident may have caused, a resident should formally file a complaint and a claim, which the DENR-EMB and other concerned government agencies will investigate.

Philex has extended assistance to the affected families, Gacad said.

There are 33 families living downstream of Balog Creek and Agno River.