Philippine gold mine suspended over spill
AFP via Terra Daily
Manila — The Philippines has indefinitely suspended the operations of the country’s largest gold mine after a waste spillage near a major river, officials said Monday.
Philex Mining’s Padcal facility will remain closed until a government investigation determines the extent of the spill and why it happened, said Leo Jasareno, head of the government’s Mines and Geosciences Board.
“It is currently suspended indefinitely,”
he told AFP, adding the inquiry would last at least a week and examine whether any toxic substances had leaked at the mine, near the northern mountain resort of Baguio.
There was a spill at the mine’s tailings pond last week after the Philippines was battered by heavy rains from Typhoon Saola, raising fears that toxic substances could enter major waterways.
Government scientists later concluded the slime and silt did not reach the Agno river and the nearby San Roque dam, one of the country’s largest.
Philex Mining vice-president Mike Toledo said the company stopped operations at the mine when it discovered the leak.
“We will not operate until such time that we are certain (the tailings pond) is okay,”
he said in a statement.
Philex had previously insisted the spillage consisted only of water and sediment, which were
“non-toxic and biodegradable”.
The accident came amid intense public debate about the mining industry in the Philippines, which is believed to have some of the biggest mineral reserves in the world.
However the wealth remains largely untapped, partly because of a strong anti-mining movement, while poor infrastructure and security concerns have also kept investors away.
Source: AFP via Terra Daily
Philippines launches probe of Philex Padcal mine tailings leak
By Rhea Sandique-Carlos
MANILA–The Philippine government Monday August 6 began an investigation into the leakage of waste water into a river last week from Philex Mining Corp.’s (PX.PH) Padcal copper-gold mine in the country’s north.
An eight-man investigating team will determine the extent of environmental damage the leakage may have caused as well as any sanctions or penalties that may be imposed on Philex as a result, Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Leo Jasareno said by telephone.
Sanctions could include an extended suspension of operations as well as monetary penalties, Mr. Jasareno said.
The bureau, which supervises the local mining industry, has ordered an indefinite suspension of Philex’s mining operations at Padcal following the leakage.
The team, composed of personnel from both the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Environmental Management Bureau, has been given seven days to come up with recommendations, Mr. Jasareno said.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau issued a cease and desist order against Padcal last Thursday following a discharge from its mine tailings into the Agno River the day before amid heavy rains brought typhoons Vicente and Saola.
In a statement to the stock exchange Monday, Philex said the discharge had been fully contained as of Friday.
“Emergency response procedures will continue to ensure minimal damage to the downstream communities,”
the company said.
Chief operating officer Eulalio Austin said the company will conduct a full assessment of the measures that need to be undertaken for rehabilitation, including the cleanup of affected waterways,” Mr. Austin said.
“We will stand by our commitment to being a responsible mining operation,”
Mr. Austin added.