The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has granted Philex Mining Corp. extension for the temporary lifting of the cease and desist order in relation to the use of Tailings Storage Facility 3 (TSF3) at the Padcal copper-gold mine in Benguet.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio Austin said that the company received a copy of the order dated July 5, extending the temporary lifting of the cease and desist order (CDO) issued to the company, in the matter of the Padcal mine’s water pollution control and abatement case now pending before PAB.
“The board [PAB] resolved to extend the temporary lifting of the issued cease and desist order on November 28, 2012, to allow respondent to implement its pollution control program by filling the void with fresh tailing as well as the reconstruction of the offset dike under the same terms and conditions,” PAB said in the order.
PAB, a quasi-judicial body, is in charge of imposing the penalties under Republic Act (RA) 9275, or the Clean Water Act of 2004.
PAB issued the extension of the temporary lifting of the CDO after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) allowed the company to continue operations, while government regulators review all technical inputs submitted on the rehabilitation of the company’s compromised TSF3.
The PAB, however, said that the duration of extension is subject to Philex’s compliance with the terms and conditions as reported by the regional office of Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
DENR Undersecretary and PAB Presiding Officer Demetrio Ignacio earlier said that Philex committed three violations of the Clean Water Act of 2004.
For the first violation, which occurred between August 3 and October 17 of last year, Philex was penalized P15.2 million for allegedly failing to comply with the effluent standards set by Department Administrative Order (DAO) 35.
For the second violation, which also covered the period August 3 to October 17, Philex was fined P30.4 million for two counts of violating the water quality criteria contained in DAO 34.
For the third violation, which covered the period August 3, 2012, to July 9, 2013, the company was fined an initial P136.4 million for two counts of violating Section 27(a) of RA 9275.
According to PAB, Philex has complied with DAO 34 and 35, but penalties under Section 27 of RA 9275 continue to accumulate until it has secured clearance from MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau that the rivers affected by the tailings spill had been cleaned up.
To date, the total penalties have reached P280.2 million for the pollution caused by the tailings spill to the Balog creek and Agno river.
The amount is on top of the P1.034 billion settled by the company for violation of the Mining Act of 1995.