Philex Paying P1B for Tailings Spill

Dam of Philex Mine
Dam of Philex Mine (Photo credit: Storm Crypt)

The Philippine Star today reports Philex will pay P1B in penalty for its tailings spill in Padcal, Benguet.  The fine has been imposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau after the bureau director affirmed its earlier decision.

That is a lot of money.  Philex can argue about a lot things, one of which is that this is the first time it happened.  Notice that such problem has not occurred in the long years of Philex's life.  This only happened only on its third Tailings Dam.  It did not happen in the past for Tailings Dam numbers 1 and 2.  Still, the Philippine natural resources and environment is much too precious and the effects on surrounding areas much too costly that liability has to be accepted.  (Read earlier Inquirer article on Philex's defense:  Diligence in their duties & Force Majeure)

Cross section illustration about the tailings spill.  Image from sister raguel blog.

Mining in the Philippines, or anywhere in the world CANNOT be stopped.

The country and world has benefited socially and financially, directly and indirectly from Philex Mines.  Thousands of employees and dependents have had a lot of great memories in the mines.

The human race is much too dependent on resources lying underneath the ground.  You cannot even read this blog post without directly and indirectly using products of mining -- from your computer hardware to the copper wires on which internet data is passing through.  We cannot stop mining but we can, and we should, regulate it.  Part of regulation is the imposition of penalties.  Mining companies should do their best to make sure that preventive measures are in place and are daily monitored.  They can argue and appeal their cases so they can mitigate financial losses for their investors and employees but they cannot totally escape liability.

The Philippine Star article reports that the penalty shall be used for the rehabilitation of surrounding areas including the Agno and Balog rivers.  I hope this gets done.

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply!  Fill the earth and subdue it!  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground."  Genesis 1:28 NET Bible.

Humans have been blessed by God with the earth -- to subdue and use it -- but not to abuse it.  Abuse can result from intentional acts, negligence or even by "force majeure".  Human enterprises that have greater propensities to over or improperly use the earth's resources cannot simply be stopped, neither should they be allowed unbridled operations.

As a former resident of Philex Mines (lived the first 18 years of my life there), I believe that it has always claimed and tried to practice responsible mining.    Paying up should help prove itself, although I know this is easier said than done.  Sad as this may be to the Philex company and community it must cooperate with the government, correct itself and set an example for other mining and quarrying companies to follow.

If you are interested in reading or seeing more photos and illustrations on this issue, you may find these sister raquel and ecoteneo posts helpful and interesting.


UPDATE:  January 27, 2013

I am aware that this topic is controversial and can be very adversarial.  I am posting below an email  from the writer of the material on the site Sister Raquel Blog as requested in the email.  This email reply was sent to me in response to my email informing the owner of my blog post and my reference to his material in good faith.

 I leave to you, dear readers, to make your own evaluations and opinions regarding the issue. Just please be aware that this blog site does not encourage adversarial or hurtful language.  I am a firm believer in open but respectful discourse that enhances human behavior and understanding.

But before jumping to the letter below, I'll quickly answer the question in the email on my use of an image from the other site.  I think I used it under the principle of fair use with proper attribution and link to the Sister Raquel Blog site which I deemed informative and beneficial to readers.  Those reasons and the relative ease of pulling down the material should  any objections arise made me use it without prior, but with concurrent (via email) attempt to gain permission.

Thank you.

 Here's the reply:

it happend with tailings dam no. 2
it also spilled, newblackout successful
get your facts straight,

my visual i share anyway, no problem
just wondering why you ask permission
when you have already used and posted it
however no problem

p1 billion is not a lot of money
compared to what philex earned throughout the years
that it was accumulating the toxic waste, something like a decade
p1 billion is a drop in the bucket

your argument mining cannot be stopped
is a false argument
if it cannot be stopped we will just do it?
kahit it kills and disloacte a lot of people?

yes benefits to thousand of employees
but dislocation and hunger for a hundred thousand
resident mountain tribes
since you used my material
which i am willing to share
may i also ask permission
for you to post my reply in your blog site
in fairness to the other side?
waiting for your reply


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