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Philex's Padcal mine, the biggest mining disaster of the Philippines

Responsible mining? The Philex Padcal mine caused the largest mine tailing spill in terms of volumes of toxic tailings. Groups protest to stop the mine.


On August 1, 2012, a massive mining spill causing the release of 20.6 million tons of toxic tailings into water bodies, occurred at the Philex Padcal mine, located in Benguet province. In terms of volume, the spill was ten times larger than the unprecedented 1996 Marcopper mine disaster. While the Padcal spill contained less toxic material per ton of tailings, the much larger volume heavily contaminated the region [1]. The Padcal mine is further located on ancestral lands of the Igorot tribes. While Philex profited billions from the mine, the company left behind vast destruction of livelihoods, indigenous cultures and ways of life [2]. It was not the first time that incidents were recorded for the Padcal mine: also in the 1980s and 1990s, two tailings storage ponds collapsed, and another small spill occurred in one of the ponds few years before the 2012 disaster [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Philex's Padcal mine, the biggest mining disaster of the Philippines
State or province:Benguet province
Location of conflict:Tuba municipality, Itogon municipality
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

According to the company’s website, the Padcal mine was under operation since 1958 and is under 12 mineral holding agreements. An aggregate 95ha are located in Benguet province and are subject to royalties paid to indigenous claim holders [8].

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Project area:4,928.4215 + 2,958.1390 + 80.6688ha (Philex's MPSAs in Tuba, as of Nov. 2014)
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000-100,000 (directly and indirectly)
Start of the conflict:01/08/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Philex Mining Corporation from Philippines - mining, energy
Asia Link B. V. from Netherlands - fund management, assets
PCD Nominee Corporation from Philippines
Two Rivers Pacific Holdings Corporation from Philippines - investment
Pan Pacific Copper Co. Ltd. from Japan - mineral processing
Nippon Mining Co. Ltd. from Japan - mineral processing
Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. from Japan - mineral processing
Relevant government actors:Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB);
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Environment and Management Bureau (EMB)
International and Finance InstitutionsDevelopment Bank of the Philippines from Philippines
Social Security System Philippines from Philippines
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP); Pangbasan Goldpanners and Fisherfolks Livelihood Association; The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA); Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP); Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) and it Northern Luzon Cluster; Peace Foundation, Inc.; Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (PKMP); Katribu Indigenous Peoples' Partylist; Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA); Caritas Baguio; Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM); Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment; Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines; Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham); Philex Watch, and others.
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Igorot tribes of Benguet province
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Noise pollution
Potential: Genetic contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Other Health impactsExposure to heavy metals, related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Some NGOs demanded a proper compensation and clean-up of the damages caused. Other groups demand the definitive suspension of the Padcal mine
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The mine was allowed to continue in spite of evidence of irresponsible planning and vast environmental destruction.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)
[click to view]

Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004
[click to view]

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[8] Philex Mining Corporation Company Website
[click to view]

[5] PIPLINKS online (12/07/2013) "Philex mine resumption a precedent for more environmental crimes" (Accessed 22/04/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Rappler online (28/08/2014): "Gov’t lifts suspension on Philex’s Padcal mine" (accessed 22/04/2015)
[click to view]

[10] 2010 National Population Census
[click to view]

[4] KALIKASAN Press Release (28/11/2012): "Walk the talk on punishment of Philex mine disaster, DENR told" (accessed 22/04/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Manila Bulletin online (31/08/2014): "Group protests resumption of mining operation in Benguet" (accessed 22/04/2015)
[click to view]

News report on the involvement of the Development Bank of the Philippines in Philex Mining
[click to view]

[2] online (XXXX): "Philex still needs to clean up, pay compensation - indigenous peoples. (accessed 22/04/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video: Philex Mine Spill: results of CSO investigation released (Part 1)
[click to view]

Other documents

Philex mine tailing spills Source: ATM
[click to view]

[3] Arturo Boquiren, 7 May 2013: Philex Mine Spill: Not due to Typhoon Saola (Gener), it is a Test on “Responsible Mining”.
[click to view]

[9] Official MGB document on approved MPSA, Nov. 2014
[click to view]

Protests during Philex mining stockholders meeting Source:
[click to view]

Protests against the Padcal mine Source:
[click to view]

[1] The Philex Mine Tailings Spills of 2012: An Independent Fact-Finding Mission Report. September, 2012. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action,

Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) * Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP)*

Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) and it Northern Luzon Cluster * Peace Foundation,

Inc. * Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (PKMP) *

Katribu Indigenous Peoples' Partylist * Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) * Caritas Baguio *

Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Last update24/04/2015
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