Residents seek compensation from Philex-A A +A
Thursday, October 18, 2012
BAGUIO CITY -- As the events of the mine spill at Philex Mining Corporation take their toll, Itogon Mayor Oscar Camantiles supports affected residents in seeking proper compensation for their livelihood.
One of the residents, Rodolfo Lachica, relies on Philex Mining for his livelihood. With the halt of the mining firm’s operations, the poor man has reportedly lost his mind.
Camantiles said Lachica is a gold panner and also relies on fishing for his livelihood. Both of his main sources of sustenance are now gone.
Another resident, Sanny Aqui from sitio Pangbasan, Dalupirip, also lamented that two of his three mango trees were washed away during the spill of the mine tailings of Dam 3.
Apparently, Aqui said when he sought compensation from the mine company, the offer was to pay P9,000 for the lone tree surviving.
Aqui is seeking full compensation for both trees washed away which may amount to P50,000.
Camantiles supported the two residents in their pursuit of compensation from Philex. “People cannot pan and cannot fish now [because of the catastrophe],” Camantiles said.
The daily income of residents is affected as they have no sources of livelihood now, said Camantiles.
He said the image of surrounding areas not affected by the spill in the mine’s tailings dam “is a total lie.”
The mayor likewise said silt and sediments have accumulated in the area, contaminating water and fish. “Dapat magsalita na ang San Roque tungkol dyan.”
Camantiles said he has never been anti mining but is advocating for responsible mining “[Philex] should take care of the environment and comply with their tax obligations.”
On the other hand, Mike Toledo, Philex’s senior vice-president for Corporate Affairs, said the case of the two residents will be taken up and he assured the company will respond to the needs of residents in the area.
Toledo said a majority of residents affected were already given compensation in both cash and in kind adding there were 45 families who received what is due from the company.
Two weeks of heavy rains brought about by Typhoons Ferdie and Gener have caused an unusual accumulation of rainwater in Philex Mining's Tailings Pond No. 3 (TP3) that relatively resulted in a tailings leak in its Padcal Mine. The leak reportedly affected nearby tributaries Agno and Balog.
Still recovering from the August 1 leak, the mining firm's TP3 sustained another spill on August 30 but was reportedly contained on the same day.
Philex vice president Mike Toledo, however, said the second leak was not as big as the first and was plugged immediately. He said the leak was caused was caused by heavy rains and other discharge was found.
He added that the discharges were minimal and tested to be non-toxic and biodegradable by experts. "The sediments discharged were similar to that during the first leak.
He added the company is now set to repair the dam and other facilities so operations could resume in due time.
Toledo said Philex has already accumulated losses of some P220 million since their operations temporarily stopped following the incident.
Suspension and ECC Cancellation
Philex Mining suspended its Padcal operations on August 1 due to an accidental discharge of water and sediment from Tailings Pond 3 following heavy rains. “We are continuing our work of clean up operations and remedial measures in the area,” Toledo assured.
Toledo said once the report of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau are out, the assessment for the liabilities of the company will ensue.
“We will abide by the law and do what is right under responsible mining,” Toledo said.
Since the August 1 leak, the mine firm's operations have remained suspended and is facing a P1-billion owing to the tailings leak.
However, the EMB is faulting Philex Mines for violating a provision on its ECC, due to the leakage to the water systems.
In a disclosure released by the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex Mines confirmed it has received a "Notice of Adverse Findings' from the EMB.
The EMB in its notice said, “that Condition No. 2 of the original ECC was violated which states ‘Pond effluent discharges shall conform with the standards set forth under RA 9275 otherwise known as the Clean Water Act of the Philippines'.”
Since the leak, Philex still scrambles to address the two tailings leaks plaguing the Padcal site.
Toledo said suspension of operations may take several months until all safety requirements are met. “We are looking at different scenarios at this point.”
The suspension is expected to result to over P200 million in losses per month with losses per day estimated to reach P30 million to P40 million.
“These are projected losses. With minerals there but left unmined because of suspended operations, theoretically we are losing this amount,” Toledo said.
Toledo said he is hoping the mines will resume operations sooner than the seven-month initial peg by the company as well as experts. (Ma. Elena Catajan/Sunnex/PIA)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 18, 2012.