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VIDEO | New permit lets Philex fill up tailings pond as MGB finishes technical evaluation

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – The temporary permit granted by government to Philex Mining Corp. for its Padcal mines in Benguet is good for one to two months. That period is deemed enough to allow Philex to fill up the tailings pond with enough tailings to ensure its stability, while the Mines and Geosciences Bureau finishes the technical evaluation on the impact of the spill from Padcal’s Tailings Pond No. 3 amid torrential rains in August 2012.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said the government is “aware of the urgency” of filling up the tailings pond to ensure the stability of the dike.

The temporary operating permit was given after the first temporary permit lapsed July 7, amid strong representations made by Benguet provincial officials, community groups and other sectors—all asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to allow the full reopening of the Padcal mine, which they deemed indispensable to the local economy and a long-time partner of the communities.

Benguet’s provincial council and its governor appealed to the MGB to allow the company to continue its operations at the Padcal mine. In a resolution, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Benguet said the livelihood of about 3,000 families depends on Padcal mine, which Philex has been operating since 1958.

Philex has already conducted massive rehabilitation and cleanup efforts to repair the damage to its tailings pond. The company’s operations halted in August last year after torrential rains damaged Tailings Pond No. 3, causing nontoxic mine waste to spill into nearby Balog Creek and Agno River.

Philex earlier said its ongoing rehabilitation would ensure that the facility could withstand the worst rains after what the company's chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan described as the "worst crisis" the listed firm underwent last year.

Last week, Pangilinan led the Philex board in "blessing" the new spillway of Tailings Storage Facility No. 3, one of three reservoirs for mine residue, in the town of Itogon in Benguet. The two others are no longer in use.

Philex voluntarily stopped operations at Padcal on August 1, with the government issuing a suspension order thereafter. It has since fined Philex at least P1 billionfor violation of its environmental compliance certificate (ECC) as well as of the Clean Water Act.

Pangilinan also chairs TV5, for which InterAksyon.com is the online news portal.

Philex resumed operations last March 8 under a four-month permit the government granted to allow the rehabilitation of the mine before the rainy season begins. The temporary permit will expire on July 7.

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