The country’s biggest miner, Philex Mining Corp., on Wednesday said that the urgent remediation measures at the Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3) in Padcal mine are almost done, making it more stable to withstand any danger that might come its way since last year’s tailings-leak accident.
“We can assure the government and the public that TSF3 has now obtained stability that will sustain our continued operations in Padcal,” said Eulalio Austin Jr., Philex president and chief executive officer.
He added that the immediate plan now is to raise the tailings beach at the pond to level 602 meters, then to 608 meters. Tails are currently at the 597-meter level.
Libby Ricafort, Philex vice president and Padcal resident manager, said that about 26,000 tons of tails have been deposited daily into TSF3 from March 8, when Philex resumed production after it voluntarily suspended operations on August 1, 2012, following the accidental discharge of nontoxic water and sediment from the pond.
“We are bent on continuing our operations at the current pace, in order to bring our TSF3 back to its most stable condition before the accident, which followed historically unprecedented rains brought about by two successive typhoons,” Ricafort said.
“With the tails beach at 602 meter level, water will be moved away from Penstock B toward the open spillway and will now prevent recurrence of the incident,” he added.
Building an open spillway at and creating a beach in TSF3 are part of the government-approved urgent remediation measures for the pond.
The beach is done by filling up with fresh tails the void created by a sinkhole as a result of the accident, where water and sediment discharged onto Balog Creek, a tributary of the Agno River.
Philex had provided immediate relief to 45 families living along the Balog-Agno convergence area, giving them food aid and compensation for the loss of livelihood.
Also, the company has since conducted medical missions in the area regularly, as well as other social (organic farming, for instance), educational (college scholarships), and infrastructure (bridges) projects for the residents in the affected communities.
Since Typhoon Labuyo struck the northern Philippines in late August, water has been flowing from TSF3 onto the open spillway, whose two chutes were done in June while the third and last one will be undertaken during the next dry season.
Upon full completion, the spillway, whose each chute measures 12 meters wide and 300 meters long, will be able to channel up to 1,500 millimeters of rain over 24 hours—or more than thrice the 455 mm of rain that Typhoon Ondoy dumped over a 24-hour period in 2009.