Philex halts mining exploration in Negros following rebel raid

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Press release photo from http://www.philexmining.com.ph

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental—Philex Gold Philippines Inc. has put on hold its mining exploration  in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, following a raid on its facility by suspected New People’s Army rebels in May.

Manuel Pangilinan, chairman and chief executive officer of Philex Mining Corp., made this disclosure at a press conference attended by provincial media at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati on Saturday. PGPI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Philex Mining.

Pangilinan said they would resume operations once the peace and order situation in Sipalay has been stabilized and no more rebel attacks take place.

“We cannot afford to continue our operations (in Sipalay) knowing that the lives of our employees there are at risk because of NPA atrocities,” he said.

About 30 suspected rebels burned two bunk houses of Philex Mining, a Kubota tractor with drilling machine and one generator set, a computer set, ICOM radio and employees’ personal effects  at the company’s exploration site in Sitio Umas, Barangay Camindangan, Sipalay City on May 3, the Army reported.

Five soldiers were killed while the military pursued the raiders the next day.

This was the third time that rebels destroyed Philex property after similar raids in 2001 and 2008, allegedly for the company’s refusal to pay revolutionary taxes to the NPA, military records showed.

In a press release posted on the company’s website, Philex Mining said it has reinforced security measures to ensure the safety of the surrounding community.

The company also pulled out employees assigned to the Umas exploration site for their safety and security.

“It is unfortunate that this incident happened, and the company is unaware of the reasons why the rebels committed such acts of violence,” Philex mining said in its statement.

The PGPI’s Bulawan mine, in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, was decommissioned in 2002 due to the low metal prices prevailing at the time.

However, with the rising gold prices, Philex Mining is studying the possible reopening the mine. It undertook exploration in the area to determine if there was enough mineral deposit to justify reopening the mine.

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