Philex Mining Corp is set to be fined an initial P325 million for the waste spillage at its Padcal mine in Benguet province.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the amount represents penalty under the Mining Act and does not include fines that may be imposed on the company for violations of the Clean Water Act and its Environmental Compliance Certificate.
The Mining Act imposes a fine of P50 per tonne of sediments spilled from mine tailings facilities. Some 5 million cubic meters of sediments that spilled from Padcal have so far been collected, noted Paje.
Philex senior vice president for corporate affairs Mike Toledo said the company has yet to receive an official notice from Paje’s department regarding the fine, but is nonetheless willing to comply.
“We have yet to receive their notice and as soon as we receive it, we will do our own assessment. If indeed violation was found, then we will comply,” he said.
No extensive damage
Paje assured the public that there was no “extensive damage” to natural resources in the vicinity of the mine.
“The spillage is big but the damage is not that big because of immediate measures,” he said.
Paje added that the spillage “is now completely contained,” after minor leaks were still observed on August 11 to 13.
Meanwhile, Mines and Geosciences (MGB) Bureau director Leo Jasareno said that the MGB-Environment Management Bureau team has finished its investigation into the waste spillage Thursday, August 16, and is expected to submit a formal report.
“In so far as the MGB-EMB investigation team is concerned, the team’s report is for submission to me today,” said Jasareno.
The DENR and the MGB is expected to release the results of the investigation to the public early next week.
The Padcal mine has been closed since August 1, when waste leaked from its tailings pond threatening to contaminate one of the country’s largest rivers, the Agno River, as well as a tributary.
Losses and other fines
Philex earlier said it would lose P220 million for every month that its mine remains closed.
On top of the losses, Philex will pay fines and shoulder the costs of the clean-up.
Philex chair Manuel Pangilinan said the company would not meet its core profit guidance of around P4 billion this year due to the losses.
But he said they would not resume operations until the safety and integrity of Padcal’s tailings pond are assured.
The mine incident happened amid an intense public debate about the mining industry in the Philippines, which is believed to have one of the biggest mineral reserves in the world.
These reserves however have been largely untapped because of a strong anti-mining movement in the country.