Philippine gold miner pays millions in fines over waste spill

Featured - January 17th, 2013
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The Philippines’ largest gold mining company will pay 1.034 billion pesos ($25.2 million) in damages for a waste spill in a mountainous province in the north after the government rejected the firm’s appeal for reconsideration.

Philex Mining filed a petition in December to waive the penalty over the Padcal Mine disaster that spilled 20.6 million metric tons of mine waste or “tailings” in Itogon, Benguet, in August last year. It claimed that it could not be held liable for the spill which occurred when two powerful typhoons hit the province and was therefore “force majeure”.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau denied the appeal, saying the company did not offer enough evidence and insisted Philex was culpable for not taking the necessary steps in securing the pond which held the tailings.

Philex will be given until February 19 to pay the fine which will be used for clean-up of areas damaged by the spill and to compensate those affected.

The mining company will cooperate with the mining bureau for the rehabilitation of the damaged areas with the aim of  resuming operations by the second half of this year, says Philex spokesman Mike Toledo.

“We will comply with our obligation under the law. We want to show that responsible mining is possible in the Philippines,” he told AFP.

Environmental investigations in October revealed that the Balog Creek was “biologically dead” after the spill, in an area where most communities depend on the land for their livelihood, local media reports.