TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. hopes to continue taking care of the environment beyond what is required by law, as it spent P89.53 million, or 20.5 percent of its total budget of P436.94 million for this year’s environmental and enhancement projects, including the management of land and water resources, hazardous waste, and air quality, as well as the third-party monitoring of mine facilities.
In a report submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MBG), the gold-and-copper producer said water-resource management, which covers mainly the improvement of its open spillway and the maintenance of the offset dike at its Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3), ate up P64.44 million between January and March, or 19.7 percent of its whole-year budget of P326.95 million.
It also told the MGB, a mining-industry regulator under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), that it spent P23.67 million for the various reforestation and forest-protection projects for the first three months, or 24.2 percent of the P97.87-million fund allocated for the land-resource management aspect of its 2017 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP).
“We have just started implementing our reforestation projects, as we have done this annually during the rainy season starting from June until December,” Julius Bayogan, manager at the Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept. (EQMED), of Philex Mining’s operations in this town’s Sitio Padcal, said. “The other programs are done year-round or as needed.”
He added that spending for the mine rehabilitation and regular monitoring of TSF3 by a multi-sectoral committee reached P692,246 while that of air-quality management amounted to P579,100, both for the first quarter, or 36.41 percent and 22.7 percent of the respective allocated funds of P1.9 million and P2.55 million for the whole year.
“We have 14 sampling stations within the area of our operations and another 12 sampling stations in the adjoining areas of Padcal mine as part of our commitment to follow and implement regulations on clean air and water,” Eulalio Austin, Jr., CEO and president of Philex Mining, said. “And we have passed all the water quality standards imposed by both local and international regulatory bodies.”
Bayogan said money spent for the disposal and treatment of used oil, hospital waste, cupels, asbestos, and transformer oil, meanwhile, reached P149,917 between January and March, or almost 2 percent of P7.67 million allotted for the hazardous- and toxic-waste management under the 2017 Annual EPEP (AEPEP).
Philex Mining SVP and Padcal resident manager Manuel Agcaoili said environment-related expenses for 2016 had reached P446 million, or 12 percent of the company’s direct mine and milling costs of P3.696 billion for the same year. In 2015, the company shelled out P269 million for its AEPEP, or 4.5 percent of direct mine and milling costs amounting to over P6 billion.
“This means that we even exceeded what’s required of us in 2016,” he stressed, saying that the EPEP requires an annual spending of 3 – 5 percent of a miner’s direct mine and milling costs for the same year. “And maybe we would do the same for this year.”