Philex hires 2 Aussie firms for Padcal rehab

By Czeriza Valencia, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 27 2012 08:00 AM | Updated as of Nov 27 2012 04:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Listed mining firm Philex Mining Corporation (PMC) has commissioned two Australian consulting firms to assist in the rehabilitation campaign in its copper-gold mine in Padcal, Benguet.

PMC submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on Nov. 22 its rehabilitation plan for the Padcal mine which suffered from a tailings spill in August.

Philex has engaged Australia-based engineering firm Golder Associates to validate the design of the spillway.

A peer review of the project will be conducted by another Australian engineering firm Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp. (SMEC).

PMC is building an open spillway to replace the compromised penstock of the mine’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3).

On Aug. 1, water and sediment leaked from the tailings pond, prompting the company to stop the operations of the mine. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also immediately issued a suspension order for mine functions.

PMC said it has also engaged at least 10 scientists from the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) and the School of Environmental Science and Management of UP-Los Baños in Laguna to help in the cleanup and rehabilitation of the Agno River and Balog Creek which were affected by the tailings spill.

The team from UP Diliman would be led by Dr. Carlos Primo David, while the team from UP Los Baños would be led by Dr. Nicomedes Briones.

PMC said the construction of the open spillway would be divided into two phases: the building of two compartments of the chute and the construction of an additional 12-meter wide compartment of the spillway chute.

“Aside from the construction of the spillway, check dams will be constructed to slow down water velocity running from the end of spillway to Balog Creek. Three check dams have been completed while the six others are still being constructed,” the company said.

TSF3’s compromised Penstock A and Tunnel A has been plugged with concrete after the discharge of water and sediment on Aug. 1, following torrential rains brought by typhoons Ferdie and Gener.

Philex Mining vice president for operations and resident manager of the Padcal project Libby Ricafort earlier said that the company would spend about P400 million for the construction of an open spillway to replace TSF3’s underground drainage system.

PMC intends to resume operations by the middle part of 2013.

Company officials earlier said PMC intends to settle its obligations with the government within the year.

The DENR last week upheld the imposition of a P1.034 billion fine on the company for violation of the Mining Act of 1995.