Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) criticizes Philex Mining Corp. for how irresponsible and misleading it has been since the accidental discharge of more than 13 million cubic meters of mine waste from its Padcal mine. This is after Philex said that National Power Corp. (Napocor) has no claim despite damages caused to the state-owned San Roque Watershed Reservation.
“It is very unfortunate and outright irresponsible for Philex to snub the Napocor—only one of the sectors that the mine tailings spill in August damaged. How about the other affected communities then? It is undeniable that the incident has not only affected areas covered by their mining tenement but also areas downstream, affecting fishing and farming communities,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Napocor has written since May 10 to the company to pay P6-billion compensation and penalties for damages caused to the watershed’s reservoir. Meanwhile, in a letter to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex said that the Napocor’s claims are immaterial.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), as the government body responsible to evaluate, monitor and investigate mining-related incidences, is expected to respond to this and clarify concerns on payment of damages caused by the mines. ATM demanded that MGB must facilitate negotiations and dialogues between the Napocor and Philex, as well as other stakeholders affected by the mine spill.
“We expect the MGB and Philex to be fully transparent, specifically on reporting to the public how the impacts of the mine tailings is being addressed. They should stop misleading the public about their rehabilitation work and include containing mine wastes in the San Roque reservoir,” added Garganera.
ATM has also demanded earlier that the ECC for the tailings ponds of the Padcal mines be made available to all stakeholders, a demand that has remained unfulfilled.
The MGB said that Philex has paid its fine of P1.034 billion and has been allowed to resume operations in March. However, the agency is yet to disclose to the public how the rehabilitation and damages were dealt with.
“The Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) candidacy status of the Philippines should convince our government and the players in the industry to be transparent in its dealings and operations. This should be a wake-up call especially to MGB to no longer be silent on the damages of mining and focus only in highlighting its promise of economic growth.”
Recently, the government announced that the EITI Board has accepted and approved the Philippines application for candidacy to comply with EITI.
EITI is a global platform aimed at ensuring the transparency in the extractive industries and improve fiscal regulation of natural resources extractive activities.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.