TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. and the National Power Corp. have agreed to sit down and identify parts of the land having an estimated area of approximately 500 hectares at the NPC-controlled watershed area that the miner’s Padcal operations, in this province, will have to reforest over five years to boost the forest cover and the overall environmental situation in the area.
The agreement was reached by officials of the State-owned corporation and the largest gold and copper producer following the recent visit of NPC President Gladys Sta. Rita to Padcal mine, which is hosted by the municipalities of Tuba and Itogon, where she asked Philex Mining officials if the gold-and-copper miner could reforest at least 100 hectares within the year and to complete the watershed rehabilitation project within the next five years.
“We have agreed to meet again and identify the areas that are going to be reforested under a program that we have proposed to them earlier,” Manuel Agcaoili,, Philex senior vice president and resident manager of Padcal mines, stressed.
Lawyer Eduardo M. Aratas, chief of Philex’s legal and administrative division in Padcal here said the reforestation program covers 500 hectares of San Roque Dam’s critical watershed area near Padcal mine’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF), in Itogon, which has undergone immediate remediation measures after the Aug. 1, 2012 tailings-leak accident following historically unprecedented rains brought about by two successive typhoons.
NPC now owns the San Roque Dam, operated under the San Roque Multipurpose Project, which was done by the San Roque Power Corp. under a power-purchase agreement with the state-run corporation.
Created early last year as part of Philex Mining’s preparation to intensify its reforestation effort in Itogon, the proposed tree planting activity must be approved by and carried out in cooperation with the NPC, according to the manager of Padcal’s Community Relations (ComRel) Department, Feliciano Diso, Jr.
Padcal’s Environment Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Department (EQMED) said the company would hire seasonal workers from the outlying communities, host and neighboring villages, in order to effectively and efficiently implement the massive reforestation project to improve the forest cover in the watershed area of the Upper Agno river.
Part of Philex Mining’s CSR, or corporate social responsibility, Program, the environmental endeavor also involves the planting of forest and fruit-bearing trees, and targets 100 hectares every year starting from 2014, or until 2021 to include the three-year maintenance period.
The EQMED also said that it takes three years to reforest 100 hectares, with some parts of the maintenance phase of the preceding batch overlapping with the planting and maintenance of the succeeding one, and so on.
Padcal mine has won a number of awards for its reforestation program, 10 of which were granted by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), and reforested about 2,500 hectares of land with over 8 million trees across Itogon and Tuba.
Aratas explained the new reforestation project is in line with the company’s commitment for responsible mining. By Dexter A. See