Philex halfway done in cleaning up mine spill
MANILA, Philippines - The country's top gold producer, Philex Mining Corp., said it has cleaned up almost half of the silt which contaminated a creek when heavy rains at its mining site in Luzon island caused a damaging spill.
The spill at Balog creek was caused by heavy rains from a string of typhoons and it caused a spill at the Padcal mines tailings pond in northern Benguet province on August 1. The government imposed fines of over 1 billion pesos on Philex, but the firm countered it was willing to pay the fine if the money would be spent on rehabilitation of the areas around the mine.
“We ensure that the remediation at Balog is continuous within our timeline and that all our workers have a safe working environment,” Libby Ricafort, vice president for operations, said in a statement released on the firm’s website.
“Once we are done with the Balog stretch, we’ll move on to the convergence area where some of the silt accumulated,” he said, referring to the part where the Agno river meets up with the creek.
The northern Philippines near the resort city of Baguio is a traditional mining area, and some of the operations there date back almost a century. Philex hopes to have the Padcal mine resume operations in the second quarter of 2013.
The Philippine government has come under intense pressure from environmental groups and the influential Catholic church to rein in or stop altogether mining operations in the country, pointing to accidents like what happened at Philex as posing unacceptable risks to the health and environmental safety of Filipinos.
At the end of November, a total of 85,000 bags of silt have been removed from Balog creek and facilities built on another creek to contain silt that may come from the mine operated by Philex. - Rappler.com