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TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. is preparing to reforest 50 hectares of land at its host towns of Tuba and Itogon in this province, a project worth P910,281 and involves 83,350 seedlings, bringing to P2.1 million its total reforestation program for this year.
“We have always fulfilled our duties on environmental protection, and we will continue to reforest in our host and neighboring communities as part of this commitment,” the company’s CEO and president, Eulalio Austin, Jr., said. “And our obligations extend to preserving the environment for the future generations to enjoy.”
Leon Mocate, senior forestry coordinator at the Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept. (EQMED) of the company’s gold-and-copper operations in Tuba’s Sitio Padcal, Brgy. Camp 3, said the new reforestation will be implemented for three months until September.
“Ten contractors, each with a team of at least five people, have been tasked to carry out the project, with an estimated survival rate of 90 percent,” he stressed.
He added that seedlings of Benguet pines, calliandra, gmelina, ipil-ipil, and antio-an dilao have been prepared at the nursery of Padcal mine, waiting to be planted in the 10 areas identified by the EQMED. Maintenance work, such as ring weeding, follows the planting activity.
A total of 20 hectares (has.) of land, equally divided between Sitios Banawel and Bagbag, in Itogon’s Brgy. Ampucao, will be planted with various tree species, while 8 has. in Tuba’s Sitio Kimabayo, Brgy. Camp 1, and another 6 has. of land at the Albian Slope, Brgy. Camp 3, are also part of this year’s reforestation project.
Mocate said the project also covers separate areas of 5.5 has. and 5 has. in Brgy. Camp 3’s Sitio Alang; 2.5 has. in the same barangay’s Sitio Pokis; 1.5 has. at the quarry area near Padcal mine’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3), in Brgy. Ampucao; 1 ha. on the roadside from Sitios Ligay to Bas-eg, Brgy. Camp 1; and 5,000 square meters in Sitio Maligaboy, also near TSF3.
Philex Mining has also allotted P345,968 for the maintenance of 50 has. of land that is on its second year of reforestation, another P637,215 for 100 has. of reforested land on its third year, and P210,000 for the 75 has. currently on its fifth year of reforestation.
Mocate said maintenance of a reforested area also includes applying fertilizers and the planting of seedlings to replace the trees that did not survive.
Already, Philex Mining has reforested close to 3,000 has. of land in Tuba and Itogon, with over 8 million trees planted. It has spent close to P70 million for its reforestation activities in these two host towns in Benguet since 1987, following a community-based refo program that had been pursued in the area in the 1960s as a livelihood project for the stakeholders.