Manila: A mining firm paid one billion peso (Dh83.3 million) to the environment secretary, a day before the February 19 deadline imposed by the government for 20 million tonnes of tailing from a pond’s leakage, which occurred in northern Luzon in August 2012.
“Even as we are not at fault [because the incident occurred at Philex Padcal mines due to continuous rains last August], we are paying the fee [in full],” a statement issued by Philex Mining said as Philex president Eulalio Austin Jr handed over a cheque to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje in a ceremony at the Parks and Wildlife in suburban Quezon City on Monday.
The money will be turned over to the National Treasury. It will be part of a reserve fund for claims for damages brought about by the 20 million tonnes of tailings which reportedly reached the San Roque dam in Pangasinan, northern Luzon, said Jasareno.
The National Treasurer has a Mine Waste Tailing Reserve Fund which can be utilised to pay for claims, compensation, and rehabilitation costs of areas affected by accidents in mining.
Philex’s payment “only shows that we have a very responsible entity in the mining industry for adhering to the guidelines of the government and for paying the required penalties for this particular incident,” Paje added.
Earlier, Philex’s requested to pay the peso 1 billion fine in instalments, but the two government agencies rejected the proposal.
Under the Clean Water Act, Philex was also asked to pay a separate fine of peso 93 million.
Philex’s 20.69 million metric tonnes of mine waste initially reached the Balog creek near the Agno River.
Philex has been criticised for the country’s biggest mine leak ever suffered by a mining firm in the Philippines.