Philex agrees to pay P1-B fine for tailings spill
(The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining Corporation will pay the P1.034-billion fine imposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for the tailings spill in its copper-gold mine in Padcal, Benguet.

 In a Jan. 15 letter to Philex president Eulalio Austin Jr., MGB director Leo Jasareno upheld the earlier decision of the bureau that Philex is liable to pay the P1.034-billion fine because the company was found to have been remiss in maintaining the structural integrity of the mine’s Tailings Pond no. 3.

The MGB, therefore, ordered Philex to pay the fine on or before Feb. 19.

Pursuant to the law, the fine would be remitted to the National Treasury and would be used for the payment of claims for compensation of affected persons and rehabilitation of “affected areas as determined by the MGB.”

Philex was also required to submit a work plan with budget estimate. This will be the basis for the withdrawal from the fund for such expenditures.

Jasareno explained that these “affected areas” could be farmlands cultivated by small farmers.

He said Philex is pushing for the inclusion of the polluted Agno and Balog rivers in the “affected areas.”

Upon payment of the fine to the MGB and the submission of the work plan and budget estimate, the MGB would assess the plan to determine if the expenses for the rehabilitation of the Agno and Balog River could be covered by the fine.

“In their motion for reconsideration, they said they are willing to pay the penalty provided that it would be used to rehabilitate affected areas. In their interpretation as per their motion for reconsideration, these include the polluted areas-the Balog and Agro Rivers....So the MGB will now have to determine which areas will be rehabilitated using funds from the penalty,” he said.

Jasareno said the payment of claims by affected families in the area would be prioritized. 

In a statement issued yesterday, Philex said it would comply with the requirements set by the MGB.

 â€œWe will work closely with the MGB on this, as we welcome its decision that the amount to be paid would be used for remediation and rehabilitation of the affected areas,” the company said in the statement.

“It has been our commitment from the start that we will fulfill our legal obligations,” said Philex spokesman Mike Toledo. 

He said the company would continue to discuss with the MGB the possible use of the penalty for the rehabilitation of the Agno and Balog rivers.

“Differences can be ironed out in the future, but for now, we will comply with the fine,” said Toledo.

The latest decision by the MGB is the last decision to be rendered by the bureau. The company can still file an appeal with the Office of the DENR Secretary, the Office of the President, Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

Toledo said that if needed, the company would exhaust all administrative measures available.

AFFECTED AGNO AND BALOG AGNO AND BALOG RIVER AREAS BALOG AND AGRO RIVERS COURT OF APPEALS AND THE SUPREME COURT EULALIO AUSTIN JR. FINE MGB PHILEX
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