ITOGON, Benguet – The Benguet Corporation (BC) is currently awaiting the approved final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plan of its Antamok open pit mine so that it can commence with the mandated restoration of the area close to its original state pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations.
BC Administration Department Manager lawyer Froilan Roger Lawilao stated that the approved final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plan will provide for the amount that will be spent by the company to help in restoring the Antamok open pit mine close to its original state.
However, he added that part of the proposed mine rehabilitation plan will be the establishment of a waste-to-energy plant and for other effective solid waste management initiatives geared towards helping host and neighboring communities address their respective garbage disposal and collection problems.
Earlier, the Antamok open pit mine had been eyed for the supposed bulk water supply project of the Baguio Water District (BWD) and the put up of an engineered sanitary landfill by the Baguio City government but the said initiatives did not push through for various issues, such as social acceptability, environmental preservation and protection, among others.
Under existing laws, rules and regulations, mining companies are mandated to prepare their respective final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plans which will be subject to approval by the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) upon the recommendation of the mine rehabilitation fund committee (MRFC) after the conduct of thorough consultations with concerned stakeholders.
After the approval of the concerned MGB regional office, the said plans will be forwarded to the MGB central office where the same will be extensively reviewed by the Contingent Liabilities and Rehabilitation Fund Committee (CLFRC). If there will be proposed revisions, the plans will be brought back to the concerned MGB regional office and the mining company to incorporate the same before it will be given the stamp of approval.
The approved final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plan will then be re-endorsed to the concerned MGB regional office which will transmit the same to the mining company for implementation with close monitoring from the organized multipartite monitoring teams (MMTs) until such time that the programmed projects will be completed.
Lawilao disclosed that mining companies are given a maximum of 10 years to implement their programmed final mine decommissioning and rehabilitation plans but the same can be completed at the earliest possible time depending on the extent of rehabilitation that will be undertaken.
The mine used to form part of the grand Antamok project of Benguet Corp., the country’s first and oldest mining firm.
Aside from providing a site for the put up of a waste to energy and engineered sanitary landfill, Lawilao stipulated that a portion of the mined out area will also be serving as a host to the Minahang Bayan of some small-scale mining associations in the area as applicants for such sites need the consent of the owners of the mining claims for them to be granted the permit to operate within the area.