By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Despite possible regulatory restrictions, Philex Mining Corp. on Friday said it would continue pursuing development programs in its Silangan copper-gold project in Surigao del Norte.
In a media briefing, Michael Toledo, Philex senior vice president for Corporate Affairs, said that the company remained on track with the pre-development timetable, noting that they expect to submit the mine feasibility study by February 2013.
“Silangan is still on going, we continue to do exploration and development of infrastructures, as well as engagement with the concerned communities and local government units,” Toledo said.
“The feasibility study will be completed as scheduled by February 2013,” he said.
The company is banking on the Silangan mine to sustain its survival and continued profitability ahead of the end of mine life of its Padcal gold mine in Benguet by 2020.
The Silangan project, which is set to start commercial operations by 2017, sits on about US$ 35 billion worth of copper and gold deposits, has estimated mine life of 35 years.
But the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) earlier said it would not approve any mining applications by Philex until it has “completely” settled its obligations and institute remedial measures at its Padcal mine in Benguet.
Section 5 of the implementing rules and regulation of the new mining policy states that in the case of violation of the Mining Act, the MGB shall order the mining contractor “to undertake the necessary remediation measures for the affected areas, including the communities involved, and shall summarily issue pertinent suspension until the danger is removed.”
It also states that mining rights shall be granted only to those who are able to strictly comply with the environmental management record requirement.
“Thus, all mining applicants, including the individual owners/officials of juridical entities with record(s) of environmental incidents, where the required remediation measures for the affected areas under applicable laws and regulations were not implemented by them, such as, but not limited to, destructive tailings spill and indiscriminate mining operation, shall be permanently disqualified from acquiring mining rights and operating mining projects.”
Meanwhile, Libby Ricafort, Philex vice president for operations and Padcal resident manager, said they expect to finish construction of a new spillway for the damaged tailings pond No.3 by mid-2013.
The spillway will help drain water from tailings pond once the penstock tunnel is completed sealed, as well as divert runoff from the mountains away from the leaking pond.
With the construction of the P400-million spillway, Philex expects the MGB to lift the suspension order, and allow the mining operations to resume within the second half of 2013.
Philex has voluntarily shut down its Padcal opertions on Aug. 1, when an accidental discharge of water and sediment was discovered at its TP3. Since the initial leak, there have been at least six incidents of discharge, resulting in the spillage of excess water and sediments into the bodies of water adjacent to the site.
The Padcal mine is likely to remain closed until April 2013.