Philex seeks gov't nod to resume Padcal mine operations
MANILA, Philippines - After shutting its copper-gold mine in Padcal, Benguet following a mine leak in August, Philex Mining Corp. has asked the government to allow temporary resumption of operations so it could produce fresh tailings to fill the void in its waste treatment facility.
This proposed process, called bleaching, is in line with the recommendations of Philex's foreign consultants to immediately maintain the stability of its tailings facility, company officials said in a statement on Thursday, January 17.
The process, called beaching, needs to be done as soon as possible to fill the void in the tailings pond, said
“TP3 (tailings pond no. 3) is designed to hold solids, not water. We need around 3.5 million tons of silt materials of fresh new tailings to push the water away from the dam,” explained Philex vice president for operations and Padcal resident manager Libby Ricafort.
“We need to push water away properly to fill in the void, so we need to create a beach,” he explained, adding that they need 3 to 4 months to produce the volume of silt needed for beaching.
Philex is targeting to complete the construction of the spillway for the facility in April.
Ricafort said the company should take advantage of the dry season to complete the beaching of the dam.
“This is the right time to do it. We must take advantage of the dry season before the onset of the rainy days,” he said.
The copper concentrate that would be produced from the temporary resumption of operations would be stored as part of the mine’s stockpile and would not be sold until the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) lifts the suspension order on mine operations.
“The request for temporary operations is part of our rehabilitation plan. Whatever copper concentrate is produced, we will not sell it. It will become part of the stockpile and would only be sold once we are allowed to resume operations,” said Philex spokesman Mike Toledo.
Ricafort explained that another option to fill the void in the tailings pond is to gather the spilled tailings from the waterways but this would be expensive and time consuming because the company would still have to install additional infrastructure such as roads and pumps in the mine site.
MGB Director Leo Jasareno said the bureau is still studying the proposal of the company.
“According to Philex, this will add to the stability of the tailings pond. We are still reviewing it,” he said.