The Environment Department of the Philippines said millions of pesos in penalties await Philex Mining Corp. after millions of cubic meters of mine tailings overflowed from its waste pond in Padcal, Benguet, according to Manila Standard Today. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said a government team was monitoring the status of the tailings at the Philex mine site to assess how much penalties should be paid by the mining company.

Paje said if the tailings could not be contained soon, penalties would continue to increase, especially with heavy rains brought about by typhoon Helen in northern Luzon including Benguet, where the mine site is located. He, however, expressed optimism that Philex would be able to address the situation at the earliest possible time. “The most important here is they do it right,” Paje said. “Philex knows it has to face these penalties.”

Philex has claimed that the water and sediment from the tailings pond discharged in Talog Creek that flows to Agno River was non-toxic.

Ten days after it closed its Padcal mine operation (August 1) because of an overflowing waste pond, Philex Mining estimated its losses in potential revenues at P400 million. The company also said it would incur P220 million a month in maintenance cost while its gold, copper and silver operations were closed. The mine produces about P40 million worth of metallic ore daily.

The company’s Padcal mine is the first underground block cave operation in the Far East. It produces copper concentrates containing copper, gold and silver.