Philex Mining Corp. on Wednesday said that it has asked government regulators to lift the suspension order on its operations at Padcal copper-gold mine, following months of rehabilitation and cleanup operations in the areas affected by the tailings leak.
In an interview during company’s annual stockholders meeting, Philex Mining Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said that the company filed on Friday last week its request to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), seeking the permanent resumption of operations at Padcal.
“We are aware of the deadline on July 7, we have initiated discussion with the MGB for the possible lifting of the suspension order,” Pangilinan said, adding that a permanent resumption will provide “more certainty” for the company’s operations.
Philex Mining is currently operating under “temporary” status as approved by the MGB.
On March 8, the government regulator allowed Padcal mine to resume operations, following a seven-month voluntary suspension of operations, in order to produce 25,000 cubic meters of fresh tailings daily for the filling and beaching process involving the urgent remediation of Tailings Storage Facility no. 3 (TSF3).
The suspension order stemmed from the accidental spill of tailings at the height of torrential rains in late July last year.
Philex Mining President Eulalio Austin Jr. said that they have filed the request at the MGB-Cordillera Administrative Region, adding that the cleanup and rehabilitation of the affected areas is 98 percent, and normal operations can be resumed.
“We are optimistic that we will be allowed to resume operations permanently after the four months temporary period given to us by the government,” he said.
Austin also said that the permanent resumption of operations would allow them to “satisfy” and “promote” the long-term stability of TSF3.
Philex Mining earlier said that the continuity of mine operations is necessary to raise the elevation of the beach being created in its compromised TSF3, in order to achieve the desired level of safety.
Libby Ricafort, Philex Mining vice president and resident manager of Padcal mine, said the company was able to establish a beach level of 584 meters above sea level with Padcal producing 25,000 to 26,000 tons of tailings daily.
Ricafort, however, said that the 592-meter target is “not achievable” at the current rate of mining operations.
To raise the elevation of the beach, at least four million tons more of fresh tailings would have to be dumped into the pond.
During the four-month resumption of operations, the company intended to produce 3.5 million tons of fresh tailings. Nearing the end of the deadline on July 8, the company has produced 2.4 million tons of tailings for beaching.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan said that he expects continued profitability for the company in the second quarter of 2013 with Padcal operating in its maximum capacity.
Philex Mining registered a consolidated net income of P403 million in the first quarter of 2013, down from P1.268 billion in the same period last year because of the long cessation of operations at Padcal.