TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. has begun reforesting 50 hectares (ha) of land at the host and neighboring villages of Padcal mine, its gold-and-copper operations in this province, for the year’s environmental-protection program amounting to P1.62 million.
“Protecting the environment in various forms, such as reforestation, has become our habit, not just following what is required of us by the government regulators,” Roy Mangali, AVP at Philex Mining and assistant resident manager of Padcal mine, said.
This year’s reforestation-and-maintenance activity kicked off June 19 at the roadside close to the Bumolo project, in Itogon town’s Brgy. Ampucao, where the company had drilled holes as part of its exploration activities, Leon Mocate, senior forestry coordinator at Padcal’s Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept. (EQMED), said.
The initial areas planted with forest trees, fruit-bearing trees, and tropical plants included the Central Saddle area at the mine camp in Tuba town’s barangay Camp 3, as well as the roadside going toward the subsidence area in the same barangay.
Mocate also said that eight personnel from the EQMED as well as 17 contracted workers carried out the initial tree-planting activity, which includes the replanting of 15 percent of the 50-ha areas that had been reforested last year. These workers will soon be joined by Philex Mining officials and other employees for the planting seedlings in other areas.
“We start planting and replanting trees from June, at the onset of the rainy season, in line with our regular reforestation program, and continue until the last quarter,” he said, adding that Philex Mining had produced 125,707 seedlings at its 1-ha nursery in Padcal during the first quarter of the year.
In Tuba, 24 ha of land are slated for reforestation (rehabilitation of the Padcal operations’ subsidence area), including the View Deck, Sitio Alang, the Albian Slope, and Sitio Pokis all in Brgy. Camp 3. The other 26-ha area up for reforestation are in Sitio Bagbag, Sitio Banawel, and Sitio Balog (around the TSF3, or Tailings Storage Facility No. 3) all in Brgy. Ampucao; as well as Sitio Bas-eg, in Tuba’s Brgy. Camp 1.
Mocate said at least 87,321 seedlings are expected to be planted in 50 hectares of land involving a total budget of P1,618,106.13.
Last year, Philex Mining had more than doubled the area it had targeted for reforestation, although this included the replanting in areas where the previous seedlings planted had not survived. It had planted 144,714 trees and other floras in 110 ha of land in the host towns of Tuba and Itogon between July and October.
Philex Mining’s reforestation program always involves the planting of the forest trees Benguet pine, kupang, narra, gmelina, teak, ipil-ipil, and antsoan dilau; the medicinal trees eucalyptus and dapdap; the fruit-bearing trees avocadao, bugnay (local wild berry), jackfruit, guava, and coffee; the tropical flowering plants bougainvillea and calliandra; and vetiver, a bunchgrass used to prevent soil erosion.
Also last year, Philex Mining spent P412.37 million for its EPEP, or Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program 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.
A miner is mandated by the government to spend 3 – 5 percent only of its direct mine and milling costs for the same year for its EPEP, which covers the management of its land and water resources, air quality, and hazardous and toxic waste, as well as its monitoring activities.