Philex mine restart favors P18-B SSS investment, Treasury

THE early revival of the Padcal operations of Philex Mining Corp. is expected to benefit the National Treasury as well as the state-run Social Security System (SSS), which has some P18.7 billion invested in the 58-year-old mining giant, a congressional leader said Sunday.

“Philex deserves ample support, so it may complete the rehabilitation and cleanup of areas affected by a tailings pond spill, and hopefully resume operations as soon as possible,” said House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo.

“Philex is the mining industry’s biggest taxpayer. The eventual restart of its Padcal operations will give more meaning to President Aquino’s desire to increase government’s tax income from mining,” said Romulo, a member of the administration Liberal Party.

Malacañang previously issued Executive Order 79, series of 2012, which seeks “to improve environmental standards and increase (government) revenues to promote sustainable economic development and social growth, both at the national and local levels.”

Based on Philippine Stock Exchange filings, Philex shelled out some P5.64 billion in taxes over the last three years, of which P2.38 billion was paid in 2011 alone, when the firm posted record-high production and sales of copper and gold.

That year, the Bureau of Internal Revenue ranked Philex as the mining industry’s No. 1 taxpayer, and the ninth-largest taxpayer among all Philippine corporations.

“The SSS and more than 45,000 public shareholders are also counting on Philex to build considerably greater shareholder value in the months ahead,” Romulo said.

The pension fund for private sector workers alone has more than P18.7 billion invested in Philex, he pointed out.

The SSS reported owning 1,063,009,428 shares, or 21.54 percent, of Philex as of Dec. 31, 2012. Philex’s share price closed at P17.60 Friday.

SSS Chairman Juan Santos and Commissioner Eliza Antonino sit on Philex’s governing board.

The other large public shareholders of Philex, which is managed by First Pacific Co. Ltd., include the Religious of the Virgin Mary and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zamboanga.

Romulo said the reopening of Padcal will also benefit Philex’s more than 2,000 workers and their families as well as the communities around the mine.

Due to unusually heavy rains brought about by typhoons Ferdie and Gener Philex voluntarily shut its Padcal mine on Aug. 1, 2012, following leakage from a tailings pond in Itogon, Benguet.

Philex has obtained a P2.1-billion from First Pacific to help finance the ongoing cleanup and restoration of Balog Creek and its junction with the Agno River.

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