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Stakeholders’ conference to tackle mine safety, environment

FACED with various challenges, stakeholders in the mining industry are gearing up to tackle mine safety and the environment during the 59th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference from November 13 to 16 in Baguio City.

The annual conference started in 1938, leading to the signing of Presidential Proclamation 115-A, declaring the month of November as Mine Safety and Accident Prevention Month on November 17, 1967.

The issue of mine safety caught public attention recently when the Tailings Pond 3 of Padcal mine in Benguet gave in and the massive leak contaminated nearby bodies of water, including the Agno River in Pangasinan. The leak threatened to pollute the San Roque Dam and Lingayen Gulf.

The incident prompted Philex Mining Corp., its operator, to indefinitely suspend operation, causing it to lose P30 million a day since August 1, besides a P1.034-billion fine imposed by the government.

The penalty imposed by the DENR-MGB for violations under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is under appeal. Philex is also facing a P200,000-a-day fine for violation of the Clean Water Act since August 1, the day the leak was discovered until the date it was contained.

Organized by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), conference participants are expected to reaffirm their commitment to responsible mining.

“The conduct of the 2012 [mining conference] is a very timely event as the Philippine minerals industry is presently confronted with various challenges,” PMSEA President Louie Sarmiento said.

The weeklong conference will give PMSEA the opportunity to report efforts by its member-companies to contribute to economic development and help the poor and underprivileged “without compromising but protecting and nurturing the environment.”

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