Corporate News

By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

Philex expresses confidence Padcal mine will pass audit

Posted on August 23, 2016

LISTED Philex Mining Corp. said it is confident that its Padcal mine in Benguet will pass the mining audit set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

A reforested area in Padcal, Benguet in this 2012 photo. -- PHILEXMINING.COM.PH
“We are confident that the audit is, of course, will be done objectively and fairly. And we are confident that we will pass the audit,” Michael T. Toledo, Philex Mining’s senior vice-president for public and regulatory Affairs, told reporters at the sidelines of a forum on Monday.

Mr. Toledo cited the company’s International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, saying this is “one of the most difficult things any company will get for environment safety management.”

Philex Mining is also secured a certification for Integrated Management System (IMS) from technical services provider TUV Rheinland, covering its environmental management system and safety management.

Mr. Toledo said the team from the DENR conducted an audit of the Padcal mine for three days, ending with an exit conference.

He confirmed that the audit team brought up the previous accidents that occurred in the copper-gold mine.

In August 2012, Padcal’s tailings facility suffered a break due to heavy rains, causing more than 20 million metric tons of mine waste to drain into nearby bodies of water. After an investigation, the DENR slapped a P1-billion fine on Philex Mining over violations of the Mining Act of 1995.

“The real responsible mining is not only when things are well. It’s when accidents happen and it is how the company reacted when an accident did occur,” said Mr. Toledo, noting that Philex Mining paid the fine, made necessary remedial responses, and coordinated openly with the government to resolve past accidents.

“In fact, the DENR said we have raised the bar as far as standard is concerned,” he added.

Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez signed her first memorandum order dated July 8 directing a nationwide audit of metallic mines.

Since the audit started, 10 mines have so far been suspended, nine of which are nickel ore producers that make up about 8% of the country’s total nickel output.

While he admires Ms. Lopez’s advocacy for responsible mining, Mr. Toledo reminded her of the difference between being a mere advocate and a head of a regulatory body.

“Now that you are a secretary, every time that a decision has to be made, you also have to listen to all, you also have to listen to scientific data, evidence, and other information, then you make a decision,” said Mr. Toledo.

For his part, Carlo A. Arcilla, director at the National Institute for Geological Sciences of the University of the Philippines, also voiced the same sentiment.

“Secretary Lopez has a very good heart but she has to be informed,” Mr. Arcilla said during the forum on Monday.

“There are really problems in mining, but the thing is, mining is not over until the land is fully rehabilitated. It’s like construction of a building, there’s no construction site that looks good. When you are extracting soil, it really doesn’t look good. The problem comes in when the miner doesn’t rehabilitate,” he added.

The UP professor said mining would benefit people and the economy to a wide extent “provided that it is regulated, the environment be protected and the government is willing to listen to experts.”

Shares of Philex Mining closed Monday at P8.70 apiece, 0.46% down from Friday’s close.

Philex Mining is one of three key Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Philippine Long Distance Telephone, Inc. (PLDT).

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