Philex seeks investors for Silangan mine

Philex seeks investors for Silangan mine

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MANILA, Philippines — Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp. is now looking for potential investors for the company’s $2-billion Silangan copper and gold project as the government is leaning towards lifting the open-pit ban issued by former environment chief Gina Lopez.

While the open pit ban has not been lifted, Philex Mining president and chief executive officer Eulalio Austin Jr. said the company is scouting possible investors for Philex’s next big prospective mine in Surigao del Norte with an investment opportunity of P40 billion.

“We are starting the legwork on searching for investors. We are now gathering a pool, which will be the possible investors and financiers. We are looking for equity investors,” Austin told The STAR on sidelines of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines briefing Monday.

He added that the lifting of the ban would fasttrack the search for potential investors and would encourage more investors to put in their money for the gold and copper project.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) are now discussing the lifting of the ban. The MGB maintained that the ban has no legal basis and was not mandated by any mining law.

“It will help improve the value of the project. We are granted an income tax holiday and the longer it will be delayed, the more we lose on the opportunity,” Austin said.

Philex is already working on attaching the pre-feasibility study of the underground mining to the definitive feasibility study of the open pit mining.

“First project is open pit then after mining for 10 years, we do underground. We are now trying to maximize the value of the asset, the value if we add underground. Investors would definitely ask that,” Austin said.

The Philex chief also thumbed down the latest proposed bill in Congress that may require mining firms to obtain a legislative franchise before they begin operations.

The bill also proposes the shortening of the duration of mineral agreements from 25 years to 10 years.

“In my thinking, it cannot be. We have vested rights, we have an MPSA (mineral production sharing agreement) that is approved already and that is a binding contract,” Austin said.

“The worry is if once the MPSA expires, assuming the bill will be approved, we don’t know if we will be covered. In the MPSA, once your MPSA expires, you are given the privilege to renew it for another 25 years. Shortening that would mean violating the contract,” he added.

  • – Louise Maureen Simeon
Philex gives free health-insurance coverage

Philex gives free health-insurance coverage

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TUBA, Benguet—Philex Mining Corp. has granted health-insurance coverage to 620 families to the tune of P1.48 million, bringing to P3.4 million the total amount of coverage given to the indigent residents in the outlying communities of its Padcal mine in this province over the past four years.

“We received and still continue to receive so many requests for free health insurance from residents in our host and neighboring villages, and granting them such is our way of being in the frontline of  humanized, conscientious and responsible mining,” said Aurora Dolipas, manager at Padcal’s Community Relations (ComRel) Department

ComRel’s Crisel Rosado and Mila Salinas, who are part of a team that screens and processes applications for free health insurance, said Philex Mining shelled out P897,600 for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., (PhilHealth) coverage of 374 individuals last year; P655,200 for 273 beneficiaries in 2015; and P366,000 for 183 people in 2014 when the project was launched.

They said that spouses and children of the respective beneficiaries were given the same free health-insurance coverage, the funds of which were taken from Padcal’s Social Development and Management Program (SDMP), one of the three major corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects being pursued by Philex Mining in line with its adherence to conscientious and responsible mining.

The company is mandated to allot 1.5 percent of its previous year’s total operating expenses for the current year’s SDMP; Information, Education and Communications (IEC) campaign; and Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG). Of the total allocated budget, SDMP gets the lion’s share of 75 percent, while IEC is given 15 percent, and DMTG, 10 percent.

Padcal, the company’s sole operating mine, has two barangays—Camp 3 in Tuba and Ampucao in Itogon—for its host communities, as well as three neighboring villages, namely: Camp 1 and Ansagan (both in Tuba) and Itogon’s Dalupirip.

These five barangays, with a total population of more than 27,000 in 7,896 households, are collectively referred to as outlying communities.

Rosado and Salinas said that of this year’s total beneficiaries, 285 are residents of Barangay Camp 3 while 200 are in Barangay  Ampucao, 50 in Barangay  Ansagan, 45 in Barangay Camp 1 and 40 in Barangay  Dalupirip.

As part of its health projects under SDMP, Philex Mining has held medical and dental missions to remote villages, bringing doctors, dentists and nurses to the doorsteps of their less fortunate stakeholders and spending hundreds of thousands of pesos for medicines in each visit.

Between 2003 and 2015 alone, Philex Mining had spent P25.2 million for its health-care program in its host and neighboring villages. The company had also constructed health-care centers and sanitary facilities in the outlying communities.

By: Mauricio Victa

Philex pays tribute to scholars, allots P14M budget

Philex pays tribute to scholars, allots P14M budget

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TUBA, Benguet – One youth talked about having self-discipline and the right attitude in school while another said about parents being his inspiration while studying, and another believing that you would reach your goal if you worked hard for it.

They were all recent graduates from college—beneficiaries of scholarship grants from Philex Mining Corp., which for this year has P14.4 million for deserving students—talking before the company’s current scholars. The latter were also regaled and inspired by the other speakers, notably the guest of honor, with their respective stories from their student days and on life lessons.

“Your goal will guide you,” Norman Alberto, a high-school teacher and a 2005 graduate of the Benguet State University (BSU), in the provincial capital of La Trinidad, said during formal ceremonies titled “Philex Salutes the Scholars: A Tribute Program for the Graduates.” “It will lead you to the right way, he added. “So you need to have a goal in your life.”

Held Thursday, July 27, at the Smith Hall of Philex Mining’s Padcal mine, in Tuba’s Sitio Padcal, Brgy. Camp 3, the event had for its main speaker Andrew Macalma, dean of Student Affairs Office, Saint Louis University, in Baguio City, who was all praises for the scholars, saying, “I hope that you will remain and continue to become better every day. He added, “You only have not given your parents hope, but also a promise that life would be better.”

He reminded them, however, to listen and treat everybody fairly, no matter their status in life. “It is when you have reached this kind of mindset that you become a gift to others and to society,” said Macalma, who enlivened about 30 scholars and their parents, as well as government officials and other guests with his critique of “outliers” and “vincular.”

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, he said, where the author discusses what makes some people achieve high levels of success, it is repeatedly mentioned that the key to obtaining world-class expertise in any skill is practicing this the correct way for a total of around 10,000 hours, thus the “10,000-Hour Rule.” Macalma was quick to remind the scholars, however, about the need to connect (a vincular or link) with and a man for others, even if, as scholars, they are some sort of outliers or a cut above the rest.

“Be of help to others,” says Macalma, who gushes at the lush vegetation around a well-developed Padcal community, brought about by over six decades of responsible mining, and reveals that this is his third visit in the mine camp, the first of which was almost 30 years ago. “You must have a ‘conscious conscientiousness.’ ” He adds, “Even when you cook rice or egg, do it like a scholar.” And despite being scarred nowadays by a number of social factors like corruption and deceit, he told the scholars to be an inspiration to anyone, anywhere, and whenever—and make many others realize that, “Even with small people, big dreams are possible.”

Aurora Dolipas, manager of Community Relations (ComRel) Dept. at Padcal, said 24 college scholars graduated this year in various disciplines, and seven other scholars finished their technical-vocational (TechVoc) courses. She added that the screening for some of this year’s scholars is still ongoing.

The company is also providing scholarships to 90 students in senior high school (Grades 11 & 12) and 140 students in junior high school (Grades 7 – 10). Educational subsidies, on the other hand, is set for awarding to 200 high-school students and 300 elementary pupils.

Last year, Philex Mining allotted P11.8 million for its 114 college scholars, 24 TechVoc students, 374 students in elementary and high school who received educational subsidies, and 130 secondary students who were given education assistance (monthly monetary allowance).

These scholarship grants are being funded through Philex Mining’s Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) as well as its Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG), which, together with the Information, Education and Communications (IEC) campaign, are funded 1.5 per cent of the company’s previous year’s total operating expenses.

Abraham Banos, a mechanical engineer from SLU (2016), said in his testimonial that he’d made his parents as his inspiration while he was studying, as “I’d always wanted to be an engineer.” As his face lit up with fond memories of his student days, he told the scholars: “If we have dreams, we must take action!” For her part, Florina Liwan, a mining engineer who also graduated from SLU last year, told the scholars to work hard and “be whatever you want to be.”

Addressing the event, Victorio Palangdan, mayor of Itogon, one of the two Benguet towns (the other being Tuba) hosting the Padcal operations, spoke of Philex Mining as a dutiful taxpayer, telling the scholars to be thankful to the company that has helped them pursue their studies. He said, “Philex Mining has also implemented a lot of social projects through its SDMP.”

By HENT

Mine firm assures integrity of storage facility

Mine firm assures integrity of storage facility

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BAGUIO. Philex Mining Corp. president and CEO Eulalio Austin briefs DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu; DENR-Cordillera regional director Ralph Pablo and DENR Asst. Secretary Juan Miguel Cuna on the integrity of Padcal mine’s TSF3. (Photo by PMC) TUBA, Benguet — Philex Mining Corp. assured Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on the integrity of its Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF) at the company’s Padcal mine, as well as the continuation of its programs on environmental protection upon the instruction of the Cabinet official, who came over on Wednesday afternoon.

“We can assure you, Mr. Secretary, that our tailings pond can handle the volume of rainwater more than what the worst typhoons had caused,” Eulalio Austin, Jr., CEO and president of Philex Mining, said during a presentation at the Philex Guest House.

Austin also said the tailings pond could withstand earthquakes equivalent to the strongest that have hit the country.

Cimatu, who arrived July 19 with a 25-man entourage at Padcal mine, the company’s gold-and-copper operations hosted by the Benguet towns of Tuba and Itogon, pressed Austin and other Philex Mining officials on the ability and reliability of TSF3 and its accompanying structures to withstand flooding and earthquake, bearing in mind the 2012 accident following two typhoons.

Philex Mining SVP and Padcal resident manager Manuel Agcaoili said TSF3’s open spillway, which has replaced its underground drainage system since August 2013, was built with embankment-design parameters based on ANCOLD and ICOLD guidelines and could, therefore, handle the amount of rainwater more than what Typhoons Ondoy (2009) as well as Ferdie and Gener (2012) had caused.

The Aussie apolitical industry body ANCOLD, or Australian National Committee on Large Dams, and the ICOLD, or International Commission on Large Dams, a European NGO founded in Paris, provide guidelines in the building of dams that are safe, economical, and environmentally and socially sustainable. These are vital to achieving excellence for all aspects of dam engineering, management, and related issues.

While at TSF 3, in Itogon’s Sitio Balog, Brgy. Ampucao, which is an hour drive from the Padcal mine offices, Cimatu acknowleged the efforts Philex Mining has been exerting to further improve its facilities, particularly the ongoing improvement of the open spillway, through which nontoxic water passes from the tailings pond and onto the Balog Creek, a tributary to the Agno River.

“You can continue what you are doing to protect the environment, ensuring no community will be affected in case a disaster strikes again,” he said.

Assuring him of the company’s adherence to its obligations, Austin said, Padcal mine and Philex Mining have been consistent in the implementation of the various programs on community development, nation-building, and environmental protection. He also stressed Philex Mining has been known as the “poster-boy” of responsible mining in the country.

On August 1, 2012, Philex Mining suspended operations voluntarily as nontoxic tails and water discharged from the TSF3 and onto the Balog Creek, following historically unprecedented rains brought about by Ferdie and Gener, which hit Benguet successively. It resumed production only starting from March 8, 2013 based on a four-month temporary lifting order issued by government and which was extended indefinitely afterwards. The formal resumption of operations started from August 27, 2013.

The government allowed Philex Mining to resume operations after the company implemented urgent remediation measures, such as providing immediate assistance to the affected residents, cleaning up the Balog Creek, and ensuring the integrity of its TSF3 by building an open spillway.

It also paid P188.6 million as environmental obligation to the Pollution and Adjudication Board (PAB), in relation to Republic Act 9275, otherwise known as the Clean Water Act, on June 5, 2013, and P1.034 billion to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), on Feb. 18, 2013, as fees over the accidental discharge of sediment. Having three chutes, each measuring 12 meters wide and 300 meters long, the open spillway can channel up to 1,500 millimeters (mm) of rain over 24 hours, or more than thrice the 455 mm of rain that Ondoy dumped over a 24-hour period.

Government regulations say an open spillway must be able to withstand a flood event having an unusual rainfall with a 1-percent chance of occurring at any given time. With the TSF3 and its open spillway, this unusual rainfall would be equivalent to 1,000 mm in 24 hours. -MARIA ELENA CATAJAN

Philex-backed social enterprise signs coffee distribution agreement

Philex-backed social enterprise signs coffee distribution agreement

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A COFFEE social enterprise supported by Philex Mining Corp. has signed a distribution agreement for its roasted beans, in an arrangement covering national and export markets.

A farmer tending to coffee seedlings in Sitio Torre, Tuba, Benguet, part of a planting program initiated by the Philex Group Foundation, Inc., the social development arm of Philex Mining Corp. — PHILEX MINING

 

In a statement, Philex Group Foundation, Inc. (PGFI), said the social enterprise, Px Community Foods and Marketing, Inc. (PxCFMI), signed the partnership agreement with Ryokudo Eco-Services and Trading, Inc.

The deal expands the engagement of the community around the company’s Padcal mine in livelihood programs sponsored by Philex. “We are confident that this partnership will further improve the economic condition of our local community members who are also our key partners in this endeavor,” Paulino M. Buenconsejo, PGFI executive director, said in a statement.

“In our last discussion, we also talked about exporting our coffee beans to the US, Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong,” Mr. Buenconsejo said.

PGFI will supply 50 kilos of roasted Arabica coffee to Ryokudo monthly.

“Meanwhile, our beans are also set for nationwide distribution not just in coffee shops and restaurants, but also supermarket chains, like SM, Robinson’s, Puregold, Rustan’s, Landmark, and (Davao-based) NCCC,” he added. 

Each plantation will have a consolidated area of more than two hectares within Padcal and nearby areas such as Torre, Sante Fe, and Ampucao, the statement said.

In 2014, PGFI undertook a multi-year program designed to mentor selected coffee farmers on organic coffee farm management, harvesting techniques, and value-adding post-harvest activities that will increase the volume and quality of their produce. 

“The farmers are also trained to understand, appreciate, and apply the discipline required in engaging a coffee business enterprise” Mr. Buenconsejo said.

Lawyer Michael T. Toledo, senior vice-president for Public and Regulatory Affairs at Philex Mining, said the agreement with Ryokudo will help sustain social services and job creation among its beneficiaries. 

“This is testament that mining, agriculture and other revenue-generating enterprises like tourism can coexist and actually support each other,” Toledo added.

Earlier, Philex Mining announced that additional resources have been discovered in its Bumolo porphyry copper-gold deposit in Benguet which may extend its Padcal mine’s life by two more years to 2024 from 2022. 

“The development that we are discussing today is sustainability — at the onset, what the company planned, or the joint venture plans to address the immediate need for employment of the community, when the end of mine life comes,” Mr. Toledo added.

 

Philex social development programs reach P400M

Philex social development programs reach P400M

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Philex Mining Corp. has allocated more than P400 million for various projects under its Social Development Management Program (SDMP) over the last five years, according to the company’s 2016 Annual Report. “We incurred P117 million for SDMP-related Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and an aggregate sum of P454 million over the last five years to further our goal of inclusive economic growth and progressive social structures within our areas of operation,” Philex Mining president and CEO Eulalio Austin Jr. said. The company’s CSR campaign is divided into five divisions under the iHELP model, which stands for: I-Information, Education and Communication; H – Health and Sanitation; E – Education; L – Livelihood and Skills Development; and P – Support to Public Infrastructure.

Philex boosts infra in Padcal

Philex boosts infra in Padcal

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Philex Mining Corp. said it completed P15.84 million worth of public infrastructure projects in the first half as a part of social program for the host and neighboring communities of Padcal mine in Benguet province.

Philex said of the total amount, P3.61 million was used to rehabilitate a slope protection wall in Itogon’s Sitio Samoyao, Barangay Ampucao and P1.25 million for a slope protection wall in Sition Upper Camp, also in the same barangay.

The mining company also allotted P1.1 million for a box culvert in Tuba’s Sitio Alang in Barangay Camp 3.

Jamal Agustin, who monitors the infra projects being implemented by Philex Mining through its community relations department, said the slope protection wall in Sitio Samoyao had been destroyed by a typhoon, and had to be rehabilitated by the company, which also built the original wall.

Agustin said that between January and March, Philex Mining delivered 22 infra projects worth P9.88 million, including a 379-meter long farm-to-market road with pavement widening in Camp 3’s Sitio Bastian, that amounted to P1.49 million, and the 44-meter two-bench grouted riprap built at a cost of P1.23 million in Barangay Ampucao’s Sitio Catcatbal.

“These projects that we have so far delivered this year are part of the company’s commitment to continue helping its outlying communities through the implementation of the needed infrastructure,” said Padcal mine community relations manager Aurora Dolipas. – Anna Leah Gonzales

Philex spends P16 M for infra in Padcal mine

Philex spends P16 M for infra in Padcal mine

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MANILA, Philippines – Philex Mining Corp. has invested P16 million for infrastructure projects in the first semester, as part of its social development program in its Padcal mine operations.

Philex said about P15.8 million worth of public infrastructure projects had been completed for its host community in Padcal mine, the company’s gold and copper operations in Benguet.

The projects include the rehabilitation of slope protection walls in several barangays which have been destroyed due to typhoons, and close to 400-meter farm-to-market roads. 

“These projects that we have so far delivered this year are part of the company’s commitment to continue helping its outlying communities through the implementation of the needed infrastructure,” Padcal mine Community Relations manager Aurora Dolipas said. 

Padcal mine has Camp 3 and Ampucao for its host barangays, while its neighboring barangays consist of Camp 1 and Ansagan in Tuba and Dalupirip in Itogon. 

This year, Philex has allotted P110 million for its community-development projects under the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP), a requirement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for every mining company.

This includes community engagement and development programs, health services and medical missions, equipment turnover, construction and rehabilitation of several school buildings, educational assistance programs, and scholarship grants. 

Philex has earmarked P1.8 billion for its capital expenditures this year where P700 million is allocated for mine development while the remaining budget is for machineries and equipment. – Louise Maureen Simeon

 

How Philex is helping Benguet coffee farmers

How Philex is helping Benguet coffee farmers

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A Benguet farmer tending his coffee seedlings in Sitio Torre, Tuba, Benguet, one of many beneficiaries to the coffee planting program of the Philex Group Foundation Inc., the social development arm of Philex Mining Corp.

MANILA, Philippines – Px Community Foods and Marketing Inc., the social enterprise set up by Philex Mining Corp.’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm Philex Group Foundation Inc. (PGFI), has entered into a strategic partnership with Ryokudo Eco-Services and Trading Inc. for the nationwide distribution and export of its roasted coffee beans.

“Our partnership with Ryokudo comes at an opportune time as Philex has been robust on its goals to engage the Padcal community on our livelihood programs. We are confident that this partnership will further improve the economic condition of our local community members who are also our key partners in this endeavor,” said Paulino Buenconsejo, executive director of PGFI.

The joint agri-enterprise is hinged on providing a ready and fair trade market, technology knowledge transfer, and equipment for indigenous coffee farmers at the company’s host communities in Padcal, Benguet.

“In our last discussion, we also talked about exporting our coffee beans to the US, Japan, Thailand, and Hongkong,” Buenconsejo said.

PGFI will allot 50 kilos of roasted Arabica coffee to Ryokudo monthly.

“Meanwhile, our beans are also set for nationwide distribution not just in coffee shops and restaurants, but also supermarket chains, like SM, Robinson’s, Puregold, Rustan’s, Landmark, and NCCC,” he added. 

Each plantation will have a consolidated area of more than two hectares within Padcal and nearby areas such as Torre, Sante Fe, Ampucao, and Padcal.

Given the territorial limits, the project undertakes to respect the rights of the indigenous coffee farmers that inhabit the area, particularly in the area of Philex’s  Mineral Sharing Production Agreement.

In 2014, PGFI undertook a multi-year program designed to mentor select partner-coffee farmers on proper organic coffee farm management, harvesting techniques, and value-adding post-harvest activities that will increase the volume and quality of their produce. 

“The farmers are also trained to understand, appreciate, and apply the discipline required in engaging a coffee business enterprise” Buenconsejo said.

For his part, Philex SVP for public and regulatory affairs Michael Toledo said the strategic foray into agribusiness with Ryokudo underscores Philex’s corporate objective to sustain social services and job creation among its present beneficiaries.  

“This will further strengthen our social commitment: making good on a long-term promise made to the community,” he said.

“This is testament that mining, agriculture and other revenue-generating enterprises like tourism can coexist and actually support each other,” Toledo added.

Philex earlier announced that additional resources have been discovered in its Bumolo porphyry copper-gold deposit in Benguet which may extend its Padcal mine’s life to two more years to 2024.

“The development that we are discussing today is sustainability – at the onset, what the company planned, or the joint venture plans to address the immediate need for employment of the community, when the end of mine life comes,” Toledo said. 

The Bumolo deposit lies within the mineral production sharing agreement of Philex.

 

 
Philex takes the lead in responsible mining

Philex takes the lead in responsible mining

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Philex Mining’s SVP for Public and Regulatory Affairs Mike Toledo told us that the country’s biggest gold and copper producer continues to be at the forefront of responsible mining, going above and beyond what is required by law as far as taking care of the environment is concerned. 

According to Mike, Philex has spent almost P90 million or over 20 percent of its total budget of P437 million for 2017 on environmental and enhancement projects that include the management of natural resources and third-party monitoring of its mining facilities.

In its report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ mining regulatory body Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the company said it spent more than P23 million in the first quarter alone for various reforestation and forest protection projects under its 2017 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, for which a P97.8 million fund has been allocated.

The mining executive also disclosed that they strongly support Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who has given his firm assurance the government would push for responsible mining that utilizes mineral resources “based on technical feasibility, environmental sustainability, cultural and social acceptability, and financial viability.”

Philex has actually been very proactive in its environmental management initiatives as seen in its Padcal mine in Benguet. According to Philex president and CEO Euls Austin (seen in photo with Philex chairman Manny Pangilinan) – an engineer who started out as a trainee and moved up the corporate ladder to his current position – Padcal was already a “logged out” area before the mining company came in. Over the years, reforestation activities have transformed the almost barren forest into an area rich with foliage and greenery, with the company having planted an estimated 10 million trees in upland and coastal areas since 1967.

The reforestation activities in Padcal have been replicated in Bulawan in Negros Occidental, and Sibutad in Zamboanga del Norte which have been converted into a natural sanctuary for wild ducks and a lush mangrove plantation, respectively, after the company decommissioned mining in the said areas.

The fact is, there are a lot of false beliefs and misconceptions about the industry especially from those who insist that mining areas should be utilized for agricultural use. On the contrary, not all land is suitable for agriculture as there are geographical areas that are not fertile enough for agri purposes.

On the other hand, there are grounds that are rich with mineral resources and, therefore, are best harnessed for mining activities – whose output are utilized for everyday things that people take so much for granted, like cellphones and even cookware. The key, of course, is the careful and responsible manner of harnessing such mineral resources.

Philex was one of only 12 large-scale mining companies that were allowed to continue their operations by former DENR secretary Gina Lopez who ordered the shutdown of 28 other large-scale miners last February. Lopez decided not to suspend or order the shutdown of Philex and the other 11 miners because they did not pose a significant threat to the environment.

In 2012, when unusually heavy rainfall damaged one of Padcal’s storage facilities, the company displayed its strong commitment to responsible mining, instituting remediation measures and a rehabilitation program until the damage was fully restored – paying a P1 billion fine in the process.

One issue anti-mining activists love to throw against miners is the claim that areas where mining companies operate are steeped in poverty. The case of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet, where Philex operates, easily dispels such accusations. Both municipalities are considered “first class,” while the other areas with agriculture as the main source of income are classified as third, fourth and even fifth class municipalities.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Office’s 2015 poverty statistics also show Benguet having a low poverty incidence rate of 3.5 percent – even much lower than the National Capital Region which registered a poverty incidence rate of 3.9 percent, while the estimated national poverty average is at 21.6 percent. Not surprisingly, the province with the highest rate of poverty incidence is Lanao del Sur (with Marawi City as its capital) at 71.9 percent.

As to the accusations that mining companies contribute very little to the national economy, industry players point to the huge revenues local governments generate from mining activities, from the taxes, fees for permits and various other charges which, in turn, are used to fund national infrastructure projects.

In 2016, Philex paid a total of P937 million for local and national taxes, while another P414 million went to various fees, permits, withholding taxes and other charges – totaling P1.35 billion which could fund the construction of about 1,350 classrooms or build 135 kilometers of concrete roads that could go a long way in helping decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

A lot of observers agree Philex can serve as a “poster boy” of responsible mining in the country with its social development and management programs that benefit the host and neighboring communities in the areas where they operate – with schools, hospitals, roads and bridges built and maintained by the miner. As one mining industry player admitted, “Philex is ‘good as gold’ as far as responsible mining is concerned.”

Philex Mining’s SVP for Public and Regulatory Affairs Mike Toledo told us that the country’s biggest gold and copper producer continues to be at the forefront of responsible mining, going above and beyond what is required by law as far as taking care of the environment is concerned.  According to Mike, Philex has spent almost P90 million or over 20 percent of its total budget of P437 million for 2017 on environmental and enhancement projects that include the management of natural resources and third-party monitoring of its mining facilities. In its report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ mining regulatory body Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the company said it spent more than P23 million in the first quarter alone for various reforestation and forest protection projects under its 2017 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, for which a P97.8 million fund has been allocated. The mining executive also disclosed that they strongly support Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who has given his firm assurance the government would push for responsible mining that utilizes mineral resources “based on technical feasibility, environmental sustainability, cultural and social acceptability, and financial viability.” Philex has actually been very proactive in its environmental management initiatives as seen in its Padcal mine in Benguet. According to Philex president and CEO Euls Austin (seen in photo with Philex chairman Manny Pangilinan) – an engineer who started out as a trainee and moved up the corporate ladder to his current position – Padcal was already a “logged out” area before the mining company came in. Over the years, reforestation activities have transformed the almost barren forest into an area rich with foliage and greenery, with the company having planted an estimated 10 million trees in upland and coastal areas since 1967. The reforestation activities in Padcal have been replicated in Bulawan in Negros Occidental, and Sibutad in Zamboanga del Norte which have been converted into a natural sanctuary for wild ducks and a lush mangrove plantation, respectively, after the company decommissioned mining in the said areas.

The fact is, there are a lot of false beliefs and misconceptions about the industry especially from those who insist that mining areas should be utilized for agricultural use. On the contrary, not all land is suitable for agriculture as there are geographical areas that are not fertile enough for agri purposes.

On the other hand, there are grounds that are rich with mineral resources and, therefore, are best harnessed for mining activities – whose output are utilized for everyday things that people take so much for granted, like cellphones and even cookware. The key, of course, is the careful and responsible manner of harnessing such mineral resources.

Philex was one of only 12 large-scale mining companies that were allowed to continue their operations by former DENR secretary Gina Lopez who ordered the shutdown of 28 other large-scale miners last February. Lopez decided not to suspend or order the shutdown of Philex and the other 11 miners because they did not pose a significant threat to the environment.

In 2012, when unusually heavy rainfall damaged one of Padcal’s storage facilities, the company displayed its strong commitment to responsible mining, instituting remediation measures and a rehabilitation program until the damage was fully restored – paying a P1 billion fine in the process.

 One issue anti-mining activists love to throw against miners is the claim that areas where mining companies operate are steeped in poverty. The case of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet, where Philex operates, easily dispels such accusations. Both municipalities are considered “first class,” while the other areas with agriculture as the main source of income are classified as third, fourth and even fifth class municipalities.

 Data from the Philippine Statistics Office’s 2015 poverty statistics also show Benguet having a low poverty incidence rate of 3.5 percent – even much lower than the National Capital Region which registered a poverty incidence rate of 3.9 percent, while the estimated national poverty average is at 21.6 percent. Not surprisingly, the province with the highest rate of poverty incidence is Lanao del Sur (with Marawi City as its capital) at 71.9 percent.

As to the accusations that mining companies contribute very little to the national economy, industry players point to the huge revenues local governments generate from mining activities, from the taxes, fees for permits and various other charges which, in turn, are used to fund national infrastructure projects.

In 2016, Philex paid a total of P937 million for local and national taxes, while another P414 million went to various fees, permits, withholding taxes and other charges – totaling P1.35 billion which could fund the construction of about 1,350 classrooms or build 135 kilometers of concrete roads that could go a long way in helping decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

 A lot of observers agree Philex can serve as a “poster boy” of responsible mining in the country with its social development and management programs that benefit the host and neighboring communities in the areas where they operate – with schools, hospitals, roads and bridges built and maintained by the miner. As one mining industry player admitted, “Philex is ‘good as gold’ as far as responsible mining is concerned.”