Cost of PH's worst mine leak? P4-B, Philex says
MANILA, Philippines - The country's worst mine leak incident in terms of volume spilled costs the Philippines' biggest gold producer an estimated P4 billion.
This was according to Philex Mining Corp. president Eulalio Austin Jr. who was at the February 18 event in Quezon City marking the payment in full of the resulting P1-billion government penalty.
"We are spending a total of P4 billion in relation to the TP3 incident," Austin said, referring to tailings pond No. 3, the only waste facility at its Padcal mine that leaked in August 2012 following days of torrential rain.
The tailings pond leak at Philex's only operating mine in Padcal, Benguet spilled 20.69 million metric tons of mine waste into adjacent water systems, including the Balog Creek, which is adjacent to the Agno River, a key livelihood and hydropower source in central Luzon.
So far, these are the mine leak costs Philex has announced or the government has imposed:
- P1.034 billion government fine for Philex's violations against the Mining Act
- P92.8 million government fine for pollution issues, including violations against the Clean Water Act
- P1.06 billion rehabilitation and clean-up costs
Philex is set to receive an insurance claim of US$25 million or P1 billion from Chartis Philippines Insurance Inc., an affiliate of Philippine American General Insurance Co. (Philam Gen), in the coming days.
The mining firm maintains it is not at fault, but will pay the government fines, which Philex contested for months.
“We believe it was a result of the elements of nature—an event of force majeure…But even as we are not at fault, we share the concern of government for the environment, thus we are paying the fee, as set by regulators, to cover the costs of remediation and rehabilitation activities,” Philex corporate affairs Mike Toledo had said.
Philex is currently asking the government to allow it to partially operate the tailings pond as part of the rehabilitation efforts. - with reports from Cai Ordinario/Rappler.com