TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. has assured the two municipalities hosting its gold-and-copper operations at Padcal mine in this province of implementing the required projects for community development and environmental protection, having allocated 20 percent more of the company’s budget for its ongoing EWP, or Exploration Work Program (EWP).
This translates to P10.34 million on top of the EWP’s P51.7-million budget covering the period 2017 – 19 for its two Mineral Production Sharing Agreements, or MPSAs 156-2000-CAR and 157-2000-CAR, in Tuba and Itogon. The 20-percent allocation is equally divided P5.17 million each—for the social projects, implemented through the company’s CDP, or Community Development Program, and its Environmental Work Program for MPSAs (EWPM).
The manager of Padcal’s Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept. (EQMED), Julius Bayogan, said during the company’s presentation before the Itogon Municipal Council, on Thursday, Nov. 9, that the ongoing environmental projects consist of reforestation, construction of riprap walls to prevent soil erosion, stockpiling of excavated materials and sandbagging of soil, and handling of hazardous waste storage and its disposal.
“We have documented our compliance to the locally and internationally acceptable standards in air and water quality as well through a multipartite team that visits Padcal mine regularly,” Bayogan said. “We will not waver in our commitment to doing responsible mining conscientiously.”
The presentation before the Tuba Municipal Council was done on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Chris Cheno, special-projects head at Padcal’s Community Relations (ComRel) Dept., who presented the CDP portion, said the company had allocated P1.5 million on top of EWP’s P15-million budget between 2014 and 2016 for social projects within the MPSA 156, in Itogon’s Brgy. Ampucao. As part of this, there has been an ongoing hog-raising project worth P1 million between Philex Mining and a farmers’ group in the barangay’s Sitio Sta. Fe. And starting from last September, the company has also been working with the Barangay LGU for a potable water system in the same sitio that will be funded by both the CDP at P500,000, and the SDMP, or Social Development and Management Program, to the tune of P1.5 million.
MPSA is where the government shares in the production of the contractor (miner), whether in kind or in monetary value. The CDP, on the other hand, is through which socioeconomic and cultural projects are being implemented in areas where there are ongoing exploration activities, while projects involving SDMP are carried out where there is production or mining operation.
Last July, Bayogan said Philex Mining had completed drilling six holes at the Bumolo Prospect of MPSA 156, with an aggregate meterage of 17,782, between July and December last year. It was also in July 2016 when surface exploration was started in the TAPSAN area of barangay Ampucao. TAPSAN stands for the sitios of Tapaya, Saes, and Nay-en.
He had added that a geologic mapping and small-scale adit (a nearly horizontal entrance to an underground mine) investigation was also done at Sitio North Midway, also in barangay Ampucao, during the second semester of 2016.
During the first half of 2016, meanwhile, Philex Mining had drilled 39 holes at the Bumolo Prospect of MPSA 156. The Bumolo porphyry copper-gold deposit near Padcal mine could extend the life of Padcal for another two years, or until 2024 from the current 2022, although this was still subject for further study. Located in the Baguio mineral district and is only 1.5 kilometers east of the Sto. Tomas II deposit of Padcal mine, the Bumolo porphyry’s maiden inferred mineral resources have been estimated at 21.7 million tons at 0.2 percent copper and 0.3 grams per ton gold.
In 2015, the company had drilled 11 holes during the second semester as it continued its drilling operations within the Bumolo Prospect and 773 meter level (ML) exploration project within the MPSA 156.
Philex Mining’s MPSA 156 in Tuba and Itogon measures 3,848.0348 hectares and has an exploration period of between July 31, 2017 and July 30, 2019, while MPSA 157 covers 2,958.139 of land across the two towns with an exploration period of Aug. 10, 2017 – Aug. 9, 2019. Both tenements were approved by government in Apr. 2000 and will expire in the same month of 2025.
The company also has the MPSA 276-2009-CAR, which expires in 2034, or otherwise known as the Sto. Tomas II, which is in the production stage.
Cheno said the 2017 – 19 CDP of MPSA 156 for Tuba covers barangay Camp 3, including the sitios of Oliva, Alang, and Kiggay, while the MPSA 157 for the same town and period covers Brgys. Ansagan and Camp 1, where ComRel has provided financial assistance for medical and educational projects to identified and qualified beneficiaries. Currently, the company has four college scholars coming from these areas and pursuing different academic disciplines at the University of the Cordilleras and the Saint Louis University, both in Baguio City, as well as three senior high school scholars studying in the same city.
Cheno also said that in Itogon, where exploration activities also include land mapping and sampling, as well as drilling, ComRel has some CDP projects under MPSA 156 that are either ongoing like the slope protection wall worth P309,143 in barangay Ampucao’s Sitio Piake in the final stage of forging a formal agreement (pathway concreting, also in Piake), or in the process of requesting for payment, such as a P400,000-seed capital for existing livelihood projects in Sitio Palonopon.
For MPSA 157 in the same town, some of the projects are: financial support (P300,000) for the trainings of government personnel in barangay Ampucao which is pending submission for a formal request; P450,000 worth of fuel for public vehicles travelling to Sitio Lab-ang from Sitio Tapaya; and a 50-meter long road pavement, also in Sitio Tapaya, worth P200,000.
“These projects had been discussed and approved upon consultations with the concerned residents and public officials in areas where the CDP would be implemented,” Cheno said. “Philex Mining has always put weight on the voices of the villagers, especially on issues concerning them and their sitios or barangays.”