Benguet Corp faces P24-M fine for tailings leak in old mine

Raymon Dullana

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Benguet Corp faces P24-M fine for tailings leak in old mine
The Environmental Management Bureau in Cordillera region will recommend the fine on Benguet Corporation to the Pollution Adjudication Board, following the tailings leak at its old open-pit mine in Itogon, Benguet

CAGAYAN, Philippines – The Philippines’ oldest mining company, Benguet Corporation (BC), is facing a fine of at least P24 million ($481,911.81) for leaked tailings from its old open-pit mine in Itogon, Benguet.

Reynaldo Digamo, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-Cordillera, said the fine is based on a computation of P200,000 ($4,016.48) per day, from October 27 to November 15 of this year.

Digamo said the tailings leak from BC’s old Antamok mine in Itogon has polluted the Agno, Liang, and Ambalanga rivers.

“The fine is computed according to the provisions of the Clean Water Act, which provides that the erring company be charged P200,000 per day,” Digamo said, adding that the daily fine will be imposed on BC until it completes the cleanup.

Digamo said the EMB will recommend the fine to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB). BC could still appeal the recommendation.

The EMB earlier reported that at least 50,000 metric tons of mine tailings from BC’s  Antamok mine in Itogon, which is no longer operational, leaked into Liang River on October 27 and October 28.

EMB said the leak was reportedly from the mining company’s Antamok tailings impound area. This was caused by a breach in the drain tunnel of its underground mine due to heavy rains from Super Typhoon Lawin.

The leaked tailings flowed into Liang River, then Ambalanga river before reaching Agno river. 

Digamo said the company had admitted responsibility for the leak in a meeting with its officials. 

As of Monday, November 21, the company had yet to locate the breach to be plugged, although the mine leaks to the rivers had been contained.

Meanwhile, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Cordillera is already assessing the extent of violations of BC, as also a basis in computing for their fines.

BC is among the mining firms that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recommended for suspension on September 27, following the completion of its audit of mining operations in the country.  –

US$1 = P49.80

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