Philex urged to sustain humanized responsible mining

Thursday, December 8, 2016

TUBA, Benguet  •€“  Elective officials in the chartered city of Baguio and this province have professed that responsible mining can be an important tool for economic progress. As such, they appealed to Philex Minig Corp. to sustain its humanization of sustainable development•€”or working toward economic progress while protecting the environment.

  • €œPhilex Mining is a very responsible company,•€ Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan said Nov. 19 in a speech during Philex Mining•€™s Diamond Anniversary Celebration, at the Baguio Country Club (BCC), in Baguio City. •€œIt is a testament that responsible mining can be done•€”putting in place safeguards for our environment and, at the same time, contributing to economic progress.•€

Recalling how he and his sister had grown up in a mining community and finished school while he was working at the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., in the Benguet town of Mankayan, Domogan added, •€œI hope you can sustain this kind of responsible mining that can benefit all of us.•€ He also stressed: •€œHow I wish [Environment] Secretary Regina Lopez was here. •€¦ I have no doubt that it is everybody•€™s homework for everyone working at Philex mines: •€˜Marching on with a Humanized Responsible Mining.•€™ •€

His latter statement refers to the theme of Philex Mining•€™s months-long celebrations as it entered its sixth decade of operations rooted on the humanization of responsible mining. And this is also a challenge to the other miners, said Domogan, who was echoed by his fellow politicians: to humanize their practice of responsible mining•€”showing how the utilization of the country•€™s mineral resources means to communities where they operate, how their presence benefits the stakeholders, and how will this translate to environmental protection and economic progress.

A tree-planting activity on Aug. 16 had kicked off the series of events organized by Philex Mining in the run-up to its Nov. 19 grand celebration, which included a luncheon at the BCC, the inauguration of a mini park at the mine camp in Sitio, Padcal, in Tuba•€™s Brgy. Camp 3, and the Salayaw•€”a group-dance contest among Philex Mining employees depicting the company history•€”also at the mine camp. Besides planting 5,000 different tree species in Sitio Sal-angan, in Itogon•€™s Brgy. Ampucao, the company had also held a sports fest among its employees and residents at the mine camp, conducted an on-the-spot poster-making contest among the young students from the host and neighboring communities, and provided free medical and dental services in the outlying villages.

Stressing in an earlier statement that it was delighted to be of help in the country•€™s economic development, Philex Mining said it had paid 100 percent of the required regular taxes amounting to P6.6 billion as well as the P3.5 billion in mining-related taxes, or a total of P10.1 billion, in the five years to 2015. In other words, the company, which only has Padcal for its operating mine, had paid 153 percent in taxes for the said period. Between 1976 and 2012, Philex Mining paid government P18 billion in direct and indirect taxes, an amount equivalent to building 700 kilometers of roads and more than 24,000 public-school classrooms.

The company•€™s host towns of Tuba and Itogon are also two of the four first-class municipalities in Benguet, owing to the economic impact of Padcal operations. The other Benguet towns listed under third, fourth, and fifth economic classes are all into agriculture, while three of the province•€™s four first-class municipalities are mainly mining communities.

From 2003 to 2015, Philex Mining had spent a total of P510 million for community development, mining-advocacy campaigns, and research activities for the improvement of the industry. The total amount involved P458 million for Social Development and Management Program (SDMP), P33 million for Information, Education and Communications (IEC) campaign, and P19 million for the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG). SDMP•€™s completed projects included health, education, livelihood, and public infrastructure.

On top of all these taxes and various social and technical projects, Philex Mining has spent over P65 million for its various environmental projects since 1987, planting and nurturing over eight million different tree species across 2,750 hectares of land in Tuba and Itogon.

  • €œGovernment can•€™t deny that mining can be a potent tool for economic development,•€ Rep. Mark Go, of the Lone District of Baguio, told some 300 Philex Mining officials and employees, contractors, suppliers, and guests at the BCC•€™s Ambassador F.V. Del Rosario Hall. •€œThe challenge is to show that it exists. •€¦ All the technology in mining would suffer without responsible mining. Now the task is to have a balance between natural resources and sustainable development.•€

For his part, Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan praised Philex Mining for paying its required taxes religiously, as well as implementing various reforestation programs and social projects like farm-to-market roads, classrooms, scholarship grants, and health-care facilities. This was echoed by Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera, saying, •€œPhilex Mining has been a great contributor to the success of our country.•€

Eulalio Austin, Jr., CEO and president of Philex Mining, thanked the company•€™s employees and suppliers for having •€œstuck it out with Philex through thick and thin,•€ referring to when the miner had experienced its biggest challenge so far when the Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3) at its Padcal operations, in Itogon, discharged nontoxic tails and water through a sinkhole. This was a  force majeure,  which happened on Aug. 1, 2012 following historically unprecedented rains brought about by two successive typhoons.

  • €œI just hope we could find more ore body,•€ he said in his management message, so that the company could extend its mine life beyond 2022, and continue helping in community development and nation-building. He also said he has full confidence in the resiliency of Philex Mining, which had earned almost P6 billion during its banner year of 2011.

While he took pride in Philex Mining for having passed the technical mine audit conducted recently by government regulators on all mining companies nationwide, Austin couldn•€™t be prouder of young students telling the world about the company•€™s culture of responsibility. He spoke of the recently concluded on-the-spot poster-making contest organized by the company where young students depicted Philex Mining as a responsible miner in their drawings.

  • €œUn-coached and unscripted, straight from the mouth of a child, summing up how the mining industry can move forward by doing it right,•€ Austin said, referring to Devon Paleng, a pupil at the Lab-ang Community School, in Itogon•€™s Brgy. Ampucao. Devon was one of the guests during the 60th anniversary celebration. Showed to the audience, Devon•€™s winning entry illustrates how Philex Mining has helped his community build classrooms, a church, and roads. The young student also relayed how the miner has been taking care of the mountains in the outlying communities by planting various tree species.

Helping enliven the celebration were the testimonies of the three alumni•€”now very successful in their respective fields of endeavor•€”of Philex Mines Elementary School (PMES) and Saint Louis High School (SLHS) •€“ Philex who all thanked the Philex community profusely for having helped mold them to what they have now become.

  • €œHaving grown up at the Padcal community of Philex Mining made me learn the value of a healthy competition,•€ said Cristy Evangelista-Samonte, a medical doctor who chairs the Radiology Dept. of the FY Manalo Medical Foundation •€“ New Era General Hospital, in Quezon City. •€œPhilex had molded me to what I am now. I am a patch of Philex as being a responsible miner.•€

Saying that while growing up in a big family•€”five boys and five girls•€”was never easy, Christine Pingot, a first lieutenant in the Philippine Air Force, said her family was grateful to Philex Mining for having extended them free housing and utilities at the mine camp. •€œI would like to extend my gratitude to the company that has been with us in every step of the way,•€ she said, beaming with pride while delivering her testimony on stage in her air-force garbs. •€œPhilex is the reason why we all continue to hope and dream.•€

But what could be the success of Philex Mining, which, after 60 years, has never ceased to amaze its stakeholders? •€œIt•€™s the basic privilege of us having education, the basic privilege of free housing, the basic privilege of having our parents employed by Philex,•€ said Michael Agustin, also a medical doctor who is the pulmonary and critical-care specialist at the United States•€™ Guam Regional Medical City. •€œBut I guess the most heartfelt impact of this company really relies in the households, making the children the best that they can be. All of you seated here must have been a part or a beneficiary of this basic privilege.•€

Enlivened further by the granting of various other honors to deserving employees and supporters, the celebration brought back memories•€”with the bad ones made light and inspiring by how the company had hurdled such through teamwork and employees•€™ dedication, and the good ones putting a smile on everybody•€™s faces.

The •€œEducation Award•€ was given to Edward Guyguyon and Purificacion David, the respective first principals of SLHS •€“ Philex and PMES. Members of the Philex Rescue Team were also recognized for their search-and-rescue efforts in disaster-hit areas nationwide while a •€œPosthumous Award•€ was granted to the family of the late Joel Son, for his excellent leadership when he was still manager of Padcal•€™s Safety/Loss Control Group, and the •€œTSF3 Bravery Award•€ went to five employees who risked their lives to ensure that the pond•€™s sinkhole got plugged and sealed with concrete. A •€œSexaginta Award,•€ meanwhile, was granted to 10 employees who have untarnished record with the company for 37 years or over. Sexaginta is Latin for sixty.

Two intermission numbers from Padcal•€™s Singing Miners and the SLHS •€“ Philex Choir, a ceremonial toast, and a live band playing jazz songs during a scrumptious buffet lunch made Philex Mining and its guests hopeful and confident as the company marches on with a humanized way of doing responsible mining.