Mines Bureau chief to Philex: Clean up the Padcal mine mess
The Environment Department’s Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno reminded Philex Mining Corporation of this on Wednesday.
Early last month, Philex closed its Padcal Mine because of waste leakage from its tailings pond. The wastewater from Philex’s gold and copper mine leaked into the nearby Balog Creek and Agno River, four times in August.
“Next week ilalabas na namin ‘yung result ng investigation at ‘yung mga recommendations. We have not imposed any penalty. We are finalizing the computation,” Jasareno said.
He added that they are also assessing the “civil, administrative and criminal cases” that the Manuel V. Pangilinan-led mining firm may face.
Jasareno explained that the environmental consequences of the Padcal Mine tailings leakage include siltation or having sediments deposited on the riverbeds. However, there are available technologies which can remove the sediments.
Furthermore, the chemicals found in the spillage pose no “harmful effects” as its concentration is diluted. Jasareno did not name the chemicals.
Based on an earlier report, the spilled refuse from the mine reached 6.5 million metric tons. Under the national mining law, a P50 fine shall be collected for every ton of leaked sediment, which may leave Philex with an estimated P325 million in penalties.
Rehabilitation and restoration
In an effort to plug the leak, Jasareno noted that Philex has drilled a “vertical big hole” where cement will be poured in to seal the leak. “If weather will cooperate, it will be done [pouring cement] in a few days.”
Subsequently, an “open spillway” going to the river will be built where the tailings pond’s “safe and clean” water can pass.
Philex reassured families, farmers, and fishermen living near the Padcal Mine of a quick response and assistance as part of the ongoing rehabilitation and restoration efforts.
No injuries or fatalities have been reported as a result of the discharge.
“We have assisted and will continue to assist the households affected by the discharge and respond quickly to their needs, placing them among our priorities in our rehabilitation and restoration efforts following the spills at Padcal Mine,” company president and chief operation officer, Eulalio Austin, Jr., said in a statement Wednesday.
The closure of the Padcal mine is costing Philex P40 million a day. On top of that, the mining firm spends P220 million a month in maintenance costs.