Philex heightens safety protocols

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Friday, December 27, 2013


TUBA, Benguet -- Philex Mines is beefing up its safety protocols following the death of one of its employees.

Vice president for operations and Padcal Mines resident manager Libby Ricafort reinforced through a directive the “buddy system” for all heavy equipment operators.

The buddy system ensures personal supervision between coworkers during regular shifts.

Philex Mining Corporation's Rogelio Guleng was accidentally buried in mud around 8 p.m. of December 21 in the underground tunnels of the mining corporation.

"All of us are grieving over the loss of our friend and colleague who has been with Philex Mining for 32 years," Ricafort said.

Guleng, an operator of Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) equipment, was drawing ore at the 782-meter level (ML) tunnel when a sudden muck rush occurred.

Julius Balonglong, another LHD operator assigned at the lower 773ML tunnel, was scooping the dry muck drawn by Guleng.

When Balonglong noticed the ore condition became fluidized, he reported the change to his supervisor and an immediate check into the condition of Guleng at the upper level was conducted.

Philex reports show employees tried rescuing Guleng for over an hour using five other LHDs that were used to cautiously scoop out the muck covering Guleng and his equipment to prevent subsequent muck rush.

After another hour of manual shoveling and as the rescuers got close to the covered equipment, the victim was finally extricated and immediately brought to the nearest hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this most difficult time," Ricafort said.

Since the accident, Philex has tightened its mine planning and safety policies as well as adding water drainage holes are drilled into all draw points regardless of ore condition.

"This is to ease the pressure build-up when water is present inside the ore columns," he explained.

He clarified that the presence of water in the columns is an isolated case.

Ricafort also lowered the tonnage for controlled draw, ordering to 150 tons per day for ore of medium fragmentation and 50 tons per day for the ore of fine fragmentation.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 28, 2013.

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