‘Philex is an arrogant liar’ – IPs group

INDIGENOUS peoples under the progressive KATRIBU Partylist called the Philex Mining Corporation an “arrogant liar” in their refusal to  pay  the penalty imposed by the  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) thus denying their accountability in  the failure of one of  its  tailing ponds and the consequent adverse impacts to the people and enviroment  in Itogon Benguet.

Engr. Virgilio Aniceto, KATRIBU Partylist Northern Luzon, said opposing the penalty imposed meted on them by the  DENR runs contrary to what  the Philex Mining Corporation promotes as  “responsible mining” and clearly manifest arrogance on their part.

The Philex Mining Corporation must  stop dodging its responsibility over the dam failure. The failure  of  the  Padcal  Tailings Pond No. 3(TP3) is not caused by force majeure and certainly is not beyond  Philex’s effective control as they claim, Aniceto said.

The construction of the Pacdal Tailings Pond No. 3(TP 3)  started in 1983 after the collapse of TP 2.  It was commissioned in 1992 and covers an area of  about 350 hectares. According to the DENR documents, the TP 3 has a projected life of 18 to 20 years.

If 1992 marked the start of operation of the TP3, then the TP 3 should have been decommissioned in 2010 or on this current year 2012. However, the Philex Mining Corporation continued to use TP 3 and has not constructed a new tailings dam to dump their mine wastes.

The TP 3 dam failure that resulted  in a series of  waste spills from August 1 to 15  is clearly a disaster.   An earlier  waste spill  from the same dam  already occurred  in December 2009.  Yet instead of  building a new tailings dam, Philex  continued to  use  the TP3.  The extended use  of  theTP 3, a dam that should have been decommissed as early as 2012 manifests  the sheer neglect and gross irresponsiblity of the the Philex Mining Corporation.

The TP 3 dam failure is worst then the Marcopper mine spill. According to a DENR report, over 20 million tons of mine wastes was released into the Balog River which is a tributary river to the Agno River. The Marcopper mine spill  released only 1.6 million cubic meters of tailings waste into the Boac River in Marinduque.  But the Philex Mining Corporation has the gall  to insist  materials from the tailings dam “is non-toxic, non- poisonous and biodegradable, and it doesn’t affect the health of   people nor kills fishes”.

The group urged the government to conduct an independent environmental impact to determine the extent of the disaster;  and a comprehensive rehabilitation plan implemented in the Balog and Agno Rivers as well as the surrounding environs.

“A mere clean up is not enough to address such catastrophe.  We cannot take the word of an arrogant liar,” the group said.

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