Mine firm plants 5,000 trees to kick off anniversary

TUBA, Benguet -- Philex Mining Corp. has kicked off a months-long celebration of its 60th year of operations by planting 5,000 trees across two hectares of land at its rehabilitated tailings storage facility, an event participated in by various stakeholders, including environment officials and local government executives.

President and CEO, Eulalio Austin Jr., called for the continued unity among company officials and employees, as well as their partners in community development and economic progress, so they can further move toward sustainable development on the basis of their commitment to responsible mining.

“Mining may be an unwanted industry, as some people see it, but it is essential to community development and nation-building, and, therefore, to life,” he said in a speech during an informal ceremony held at Padcal mine, which Philex Mining has been operating since 1956, in the Benguet town of Itogon.

Dubbed “Nurture-Nature Activity,” the event brought together about 300 participants, including officials from Benguet and representatives from the DENR-CAR, who braved the intermittent but heavy rains brought about by the southwest monsoon and planted various tree species at Padcal’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 1 (TSF1), in Sitio Sal-angan, Brgy. Ampucao.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan congratulated Philex Mining on its 60th year, and expressed gratitude for the various social projects that the company has done for his municipality.

“We have a good relationship with Philex Mining, which has been compliant on its obligations as a responsible miner to Itogon,” he said.

Environment Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Department (EQMED) manager Julius Bayugan said the 5,000 seedlings planted in TSF1, which was constructed in 1967 and decommissioned in 1981, were from an in-house nursery and included caliandra, ipil-ipil, gmelina, narra, and Benguet pine. The 26-hectare TSF1, which was now fully revegetated and rehabilitated, is also currently used as a bamboo plantation and experimental plots for high-value ornamental plants.

Padcal resident manager Manuel Agcoili, who is also SVP at Philex Mining, said the gold-and-copper mines has lined up a number of social projects and cultural events in the run-up to its grand celebration on Nov. 19, including dental and medical missions, community night, sports fest, and on-the-sport poster-making contest.

In an earlier statement, Philex Mining, which was listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in Nov. 1956, said it has shelled out P65 million for reforestation program since 1987 that involves the planting and nurturing of 8 million different tree species, with a 90-percent survival rate, at its mine site in Tuba and Itogon. But there was already a community-based reforestation in the area that began in the 1960s as a livelihood project for the stakeholders.

The almost 29-year period of reforestation derived from Philex Mining initiative covers a total of 2,750 hectares of land at the company’s MPSA 156, of which 2,129 has. are inside the said mineral production sharing agreement while 621 has. are outside of it. The company has a total of 5,010 has. under its MPSAs 156 and 276, a measly 580-ha. area of which is being utilized for its mining operations—410 has. for mining facilities and 170 has. for residential and institutional use.

Padcal mine’s nursery produces 250,000 seedlings every year, while its annual average of reforested area is 100 has., whose maintenance and protection run up to three years. The tree species also include antioan dilaw, cupang, guava, rambutan, lanzones, cacao, and coffee (arabica and robusta).

The reforestation at Padcal mine also includes the denuded area exploited by a logging company before Philex Mining came in. (PR)

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