ITOGON, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. recently kicked off a months-long celebration of its 60th year of listing as a mining company by planting 5,000 trees across a two-hectare land at its rehabilitated tailings storage facility, an event participated in by various stakeholders, including environment officials and local government executives in barangay Ampucao here.
The company’s president and CEO, Eulalio Austin, Jr., called on Tuesday for continued unity among company officials and employees, as well as their partners in community development and economic progress, so they can further move toward sustainable development on the basis of their commitment to responsible mining, a virtue that will help the company move on to greater heights.
“Mining may be an ‘unwanted’ industry, as some people see it, but it is essential to community development and nation-building, and, therefore, to life,” he said in a speech during an informal ceremony held at Padcal mine, which Philex Mining has been operating since 1956, in the Benguet town of Itogon.
Dubbed “Nurture-Nature Activity,” the event brought together about 300 participants, including the LGUs, from the office of the Provincial governor represented by Adam Ventura, Tuba municipal mayor Ignacio Rivera, Itogon municipal mayor Victorio Palangdan, Camp 3 punong barangay Benedicto Baliton, and representatives from the DENR-CAR, who braved the intermittent but heavy rains and planted various tree species at Padcal’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 1 (TSF1), in Itogon’s Sitio Sal-angan, barangay Ampucao.
Mayor Victorio Palangdan congratulated Philex Mining on its 60th year and expressed gratitude for the various social projects that the company has done for his municipality. “We have a good relationship with Philex Mining, which has been compliant on its obligations as a responsible miner to Itogon,” he said.
Julius Bayugan, the manager of Padcal mine’s Environment Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Department, said the 5,000 seedlings planted in TSF1, which was constructed in 1967 and decommissioned in 1981, were from an in-house nursery and included caliandra, ipil-ipil, gmelina, narra, and Benguet pine. The 26-hectare TSF1, which was now fully vegetated and rehabilitated, is also currently used as a bamboo plantation and experimental plots for high-value ornamental plants.
Padcal Resident Manager Manuel Agcoili, who is also SVP at Philex Mining, said the gold-and-copper miner has lined up a number of social projects and cultural events in the run-up to its grand celebration on Nov. 19, including dental and medical missions, community night, sports fest, and on-the-sport poster-making contest.
In an earlier statement, Philex Mining said it has shelled out P65 million for reforestation programs since 1987 that involves the planting and nurturing of 8 million trees of different species, with a 90-percent survival rate, at its mine site in Tuba and Itogon. But there was already a community-based reforestation in the area that began in the 1960s as a livelihood project for the stakeholders.
The almost 29-year period of reforestation derived from Philex Mining initiative covers a total of 2,750 hectares at the company’s Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) 156, of which 2,129 hectares are inside the said MPSA while 621 hectares are outside of it. The company has a total of 5,010 hectares under its MPSAs 156 and 276, with 580 hectares being utilized for its mining operations — 410 hectares for mining facilities and 170 hectares for residential and institutional use.
Padcal mine’s nursery produces 250,000 seedlings every year, while its annual average of reforested area is 100 hectares, whose maintenance and protection run up to three years. The tree species also include antioan dilaw, cupang, guava, rambutan, lanzones, cacao, and coffee (arabica and robusta).
The reforestation at Padcal mine also includes the denuded area exploited by a logging company before Philex Mining came in.
Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera also extended his municipality’s gratitude to the mining company for their unwavering and uncompromising contributions to the preservation and protection of the environment since it is vital for the company to sustain the preserving and protecting the very heart where it is getting the resources will contribute to the overall economic growth not only of the host and neighboring communities but also of the whole country.
“We fully support the thrust of the company to preserve and protect the environment because we have to allow the present and future generations of Filipinos to enjoy a better state of environment which they could also pass on to their children and their children’s children,” Rivera stressed.
Philex is considered the largest producer of gold and copper and was incorporated in July 1955, and listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange in November 1956.