Philex faces bigger fine over leaks at gold mine

Posted at 09/11/12 2:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday released the results of their probe into the waste spillage of Philex Mining's mine in Padcal, Benguet. 

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said Philex could be fined double or triple the initial damage assessement of P325 million, after determining the spill was worse than expected. 

On top of the fine, Philex will be penalized P200,000 a day due to their violation of the Clean Water Act. 

The fine is still being accumulated until the company resolves the spillage. 

Philex is still working to seal a breached drainage pipe which caused mine tailings to spill into the creek and Agno river. 

The tailings pond has spilled a total of 6 times the first spill on August 1. 

Paje said Philex threw tractors, cement mixers and container vans into the tailings pond to try to plug the leaks. 

 Paje said a team of scientists are still figuring out the exact reason why the spill occurred since the design of the tailings pond in Benguet is said to be industry-standard.

Tailings are the materials left over after precious metals are extracted from ore. 

Philex shares have fallen more than 25% since the first leak in early August. Philex, a copper and gold producer, is the country's biggest miner. It is led by PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan.

Mining IRR

The DENR also released the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order 79 on mining. Highlights of the IRR include guidelines on how small-scale mines "Minahang Bayan" will operate; more stringent measures in approving mining contracts; and current moratorium on mining permits pending legislation. 

The DENR also insisted on the supremacy of the national government over local ordinances in approving mining contracts. Paje, however, assured the public they will listen to the concerns of the community before deciding on mining applications. - Report from Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News; ANC