TUBA, Benguet – With the management of its land resource eating up the bulk of its environmental-protection budget, Philex Mining Corp. had utilized 9.58 percent for the first three months of its allocated fund of P278.42 million for the entire year.
This means the gold-and-copper operations of Padcal, Philex Mining’s sole operating mine, had spent P26.67 million between January and March for the management of its land and water resources, air quality, and hazardous and toxic waste, as well as for its monitoring activities.
“As with our dogged implementation of social projects and religious payment of our taxes, we also comply with environmental requirements,” the company’s SVP and Padcal assistant resident manager, Roy Mangali, said.
In its 14-page report, dated April 14, submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Padcal’s EQMED, or Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept., indicated that expenditure for the land-resource management reached P17.28 million during the first quarter.
The report covered partly the company’s implementation of its Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP), which should be 3 – 5 percent of a miner’s direct mine and milling costs for the same year.
Philex Mining has always gone beyond this requirement by the MGB, which regulates the mining industry and operates under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Its Annual EPEP (AEPEP) spending in 2016 and 2015 reached P446 million and P269 million, respectively, or 12 percent and 7 percent of direct mine and milling costs of P3.69 billion and P3.8 billion.
The EQMED report also said the bulk of expenses for land resources involved the backfilling operations and other maintenance work at the subsidence area, in Tuba’s Brgy. Camp 3, at P16.24 million, followed by the domestic waste management and sanitary landfill operations at P557,763, and the reforestation and forest-protection activities at P484,980.
“We focused more on the production of seedlings at our nursery during the first quarter, in time for our massive tree-planting activities during the second half of the year,” Abner Silorio, environment manager at Philex Mining and EQMED head, said. “We would be spending more for our reforestation program during the rainy season, starting from June, which is also our planting season.”
For its water-resources management, the company had spent P4.72 million during the first quarter. This covered the maintenance and improvement of the Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3), in Itogon’s Sitio Balog, Brgy. Ampucao, and its accompanying structure like the open spillway; the decommissioned and rehabilitated TSF1, in the barangay’s Sitio Sal-angan, and TSF2 (Sitio Bagbag); the protection of the nearby Albian Creek; as well as the water monitoring and laboratory fees for water-sample analyses.
“This is in line with the company’s duty to maintain the integrity and stability of its active tailings pond, as well as the repair of pipeline and grass cutting at TSF2, and the maintenance of the scrap yard at TSF1, among other things,” Silorio stressed.
Last year, Philex Mining spent P412.37 million for its EPEP a comprehensive and strategic environmental-management plan for the life of the mine or 11.45 percent of its direct mine and milling costs of P3.6 billion. This brought the 2017 total expenditure for environmental enhancement and protection to 93.7 percent of the allotted budget of P440.07 million.