Gold miner ready to start producing… coffee?

Philippines-based Philex Mining Corp. (PINK:PXMFF), the country’s biggest miner, said it is ready to start harvesting coffee from its demo farm located in the Barangay Ampucao district, in Itogon.

The gold and copper company said the farm is part of the Community Business and Technology Center (CBTC),  a Philex initiative for coffee farmers that aims to benefit more than 100 families whose livelihood depends on this activity.

Benzon Marino, head of maintenance at the coffee farm told local newspaper Sun.Star Baguio the upcoming harvest would set the foundations for an expanding coffee production in the area.

But it's not all good news as the company faces penalties of as much as $24 million for damages to the environment as a result of the mine tailings spill at its  now shutdown Padcal gold and copper mine, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, Ramon Paje, said Tuesday.

In August, Philex Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the company's gold and copper exports would be suspended from September as a result of Padcal's closure.

"We have been transparent to the public. We will do the right thing and show that responsible mining is possible in this country by meeting head-on what is due under the law, and after due process and notice and hearing," added Philex vice president Mike Toledo in an interview with Rappler.

The miner is currently studying an option to perpetually plug the drainage pipe leading to the nearby bodies of water by drilling a tunnel into the main dam to be filled with quick-setting cement.