MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan started the New Year with a challenge to critics of the mining industry: "Come and see the real face of responsible mining."
On his official Twitter account (@iamMVP), Pangilinan tweeted about his visit to Philex's Padacal mine in Benguet on Wednesday. The Padcal mine has been closed since August, after a leak at its tailings pond.
"Padcal mine area-14kHectares But mining footprint only abt 600. Millions of pine trees.Critics shld come&see real face of responsible mining," Pangilinan said.
Philex Mining, the country's biggest gold producer, has touted itself as a model of responsible mining.
However, in August over 20 million metric tons of mine tailings spilled from its pond in Padcal into the Balog creek, and the Agno River, one of the country's largest rivers. The company has attributed the leakage to the "historically unprecedented heavy rains" brought by a typhoon.
Philex is facing a P1 billion fine imposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau for the tailings leak.
Even though the Padcal mine operations remain suspended, Pangilinan said construction and rehabilitation work is in progress.
"Work full blast - rehab of Balog creek, repair of tailings pond 3, new spillway. Impressive," he said.
Pangilinan also talked about the construction of a new tailings pond at Padcal and housing for Philex employees.
"New year means new tailings pond and new housing structures for the philex community. It always feels good to share," he said.
Philex suffered a decline in profits last year as a result of the Padcal mine closure.
The company has also said it is willing to pay the P1 billion fine imposed by the MGB provided it will be used for the rehabilitation and cleanup of the area affected by the tailings leak.
However, the MGB has yet to come out with its decision on the matter.