Philex says may recommission broken tailings pond
MANILA, Philippines - Gold-copper producer Philex Mining Corp. is considering recommissioning the broken tailings pond of its Padcal mine in Benguet province to be able to immediately resume operations.
"The fastest we can resume operations of the mine is to use tailings pond no. 3," said Philex vice president for operations and Padcal mine resident manager Libby Ricafort in a press briefing.
Ricafort said the pond can be used for 3 to 4 years, while a new one is being built.
He also said that the pond will be redesigned to act as a spillway.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno earlier said Padcal's tailings pond no. 3 may still be used.
But he said a new tailings pond will be better as it can extend the life of Padcal mine beyond 2020.
"Depending on economic conditions, we are looking at 50 more years. Our geologists will keep on exploring. If they find new reserves, this will surely extend the life of the mine," he said.
'Not negligence, but force majeure'
Philex vice president for corporate affairs Mike Toledo said the company is still contesting the P1.034 billion fine slapped on it for the Padcal mine leak, which he maintained was "force majeure."
He said non-stop rain weakened the structure of the pond.
"Nobody could predict that such amount of rainfall would occur," he said. "There's no negligence on the part of Philex."
Philex was fined by the MGB for violating the Mining Act. On top of the P1-billion fine, is another P50,000 for the violation of the company's Environmental Clearance Certificate.
The company is also facing penalties of P50,000 to P200,000 per day for violation of the Clean Water Act.
Toledo, meanwhile, said the company is doing everything it can "to remediate the effects of the spill on the environment and surrounding communities."
Ricafort outlined Philex's Integrated River Basin Rehabilitation and Management (IRBM) plan.
The first phase of the IRBM plan focuses on physical clean-up and the second one puts emphasis on health enhancement and restoration of ecosystems.
Despite the waste spill, Toledo said Philex's still sets the example of "responsible" mining in the country.
"Philex is committed to transparency and we want to show the world that responsible mining in the Philippines is possible," Toledo said.
The Padcal leak happened amid an intense public debate about the mining industry in the Philippines, which is believed to have some of the biggest mineral reserves in the world.
These reserves however have been largely untapped because of a strong anti-mining movement and poor infrastructure and security concerns that have kept investors away. - Rappler.com
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