Philex, experts sign rehab deal after mine spill

Rappler.com
Philex Mining Corp. signed Wednesday night, December 19, three separate agreements with 6 experts in various fields regarding the rehabilitation of areas affected by the tailings spill at its Padcal mine in Benguet

This was a press release Philex Mining Corp. released on Thursday, December 20.


MANILA, Philippines — Philex Mining Corp. signed Wednesday night, December 19, three separate agreements with 6 experts in various fields regarding the rehabilitation of areas affected by the tailings spill at its Padcal mine in Benguet.

The experts have proposals for the rehabilitation of the Balog Creek and its convergence area with Agno River, to determine the quantity of tailings spill at its Padcal mine, and revegetate abandoned tailings ponds.

“Harnessing the knowledge and expertise of independent academicians, scientists, and consultants is part of our sincere effort toward the remediation and rehabilitation of areas affected by the Aug. 1 accidental in Itogon,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of Philex Mining, stressed.

The signing was at Pangilinan’s office in Ortigas. Also present was Carlos Primo David whose office drew up two separate agreements on the determination of tailings spill and on the revegetation of decommissioned tailings ponds.

Nicomedes dela Cruz Briones said his proposal on the rehabilitation of the affected waters is complemented by 5 other proposals on sediment transport modeling, fate analysis of heavy metals, characterization of fisheries, estimation of economic loss, and estimation of the environmental benefits of biological rehabilitation.

Briones is a professor at the School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of the Philippines (UP) at Los Baños in Laguna. He is the leader of a team of scientists that has two rehabilitation proposals in one agreement.

Stressing that the sediment from Padcal mine’s Tailings Pond No. 3 that spilled into the Balog Creek has to be ascertained “quantitatively and scientifically,” David, professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) at UP Diliman, cited three deliverables in one of his MOAs with Philex Mining.

These include the review of the monthly monitoring data collected by Philex Mining from the pond in Itogon, Benguet, the development of a technique to trace the extent of the tailings, and the determination of the volume of tailings material in waters beyond Balog Creek.

In his second and separate proposal, David outlined the pilot testing of alternative revegetation method of the tailings pond, the analysis of nutrient content of tailings as measure of material reconditioning, and the final assessment of the proposed revegetation process.

“Current laboratory experiments used mine tailings from Philex’s [tailings pond], and show encouraging results,” stressed Dr. David, who signed the agreements with Philex Mining on behalf of UP Diliman’s Geoscience Foundation, Inc. and NIGS.

Philex Mining Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs Michael Toledo said the company has a program in place for the remediation and rehabilitation of Balog Creek and its convergence area with Agno River, in connection with the accidental discharge of sediment from the tailing pond on Aug. 1, following historically unprecedented heavy rains brought about by typhoons.

The company would be spending at least P1 billion for the said program, including the rehabilitation of the tailings pond, until April 2013. It also hopes to resume operations at Padcal around the second quarter of next year, when the open spillway, which would replace the penstock and underground tunnel system of draining water from TP3 to Balog Creek, will have been completed.

The 4 other third-party experts involved in the two agreements are Emmanuel Lleva, who holds a doctorate degree in environmental science from UP Los Baños; Maxima Flavier, who has a Ph.D. in agricultural chemistry, also from UP LosBaños; Nina Cadiz, who has a doctorate in horticulture-crop physiology at UPLos Baños and sandwich program with the University of Wales, in Cardiff; and Louie Balicanta, who has a master’s degree in urban planning from UP Diliman.