MANILA, Philippines – Philex Mining Corp. said yesterday that it would be able to complete the construction of the new spillway for the compromised tailings pond of its Padcal copper-gold mine in Benguet before the onset of the rainy season.
In a statement, the company said that the spillway, which will drain water from the broken tailings pond no. 3 (TP3), is seen to be completed by the end of June.
The open spillway would replace the pond’s underground drainage system which was damaged last year, causing a massive tailings spill.
The spillway would drain non-toxic water from the pond into the Agno River via the Maligaboy Creek and Balog Creek.
Excessive water in the pond could cause the crest of its embankment to slump and trigger the release of water and sediment into the environs of the mine.
Philex said that once completed, the spillway could channel as much as 1,000 millimeter of rain over a 24-hour period – equivalent to about two times the amount of rainfall brought about by the 2009 typhoon “Ondoy,” whose downpour brought 455 millimeters of rain over a 24-hour period.
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Philex is currently conducting a process called beaching to fill the conical void in tailings pond no. 3.
The spillway would then drain water from the pond as fresh tailings are dumped into the pond.
The government allowed the temporary resumption of operations in the Padcal mine to last March 8, seven months after the tailings spill that happened in August 2012.
Experts consulted by Philex recommended the beaching process because it is the fastest, and most economical way of restoring TP3 to its original state.
Philex has been allowed to operate the mine until June.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno earlier said that after the period allowed by the government, the developments in the mine would be reviewed.
Only after the review would the government decide if the mine is still fit for the resumption of regular operations.
Philex reported a consolidated net income of P403 million in the first quarter of 2013, down from P1.268 billion in the same period last year due to the suspension of operation of the Padcal mine.