MINESITE: Philex Underground Mine

My first underground mine encounter was in Philex Mines in Padcal, Benguet.  Geology and Metallurgical students went to a three-day Baguio outing on November 16-18, 2007, to visit one of the most active mining region in the country. After a lecture with Texas Instrument on Day 1 (it was for the Met students, Geo's have nothing to do with it), the rest of the day was spent to check in at Teachers Camp (they say its haunted) and prepare ourselves for the mine visit the following day.

On Day 2, our chartered bus took us to Philex Mine, but the road was a bit steep, so we have to transfer to an old, rusty but sturdy minibus which is used to transfer employees to and from the mine. The steep road to the mine was handled by the driver smoothly showing his familiarity with the terrain, so we arrived in one piece. Geology and Metallurgical students parted ways. Geo students were to visit the underground mine, whilst Met students were to visit the ore processing plant.
Philex minibus transfer


We registered at the administration office of Philex Mine where we were briefed regarding  company rules and regulations and their safety compliance. Everyone was required to wear personal protective equipment essentially - hard hat with lamp, reflectorized vest, safety shoes/boots (steeltoe) and a matching belt to carry other safety tools.

Tried my best to make a typical 
mine outfit fashionable.
What further means of transport do we have to get into to reach the underground mine? After having to ride the rusty minibus, at the entrance to the tunnels (where the group picture was taken) we boarded an elevator (a box with a pulley would be more accurate i guess) to go down the depths of the mine.  20 of us were cramped inside the elevator and it went down the shaft to level 540 (but 920masl).

All set for the group picture and the hazards of an
underground mine.
I remember walking the barely lit underground tunnels of the mine for at least 15mins to get to their underground office. Another brief mine orientation held us there for a while before touring the mine, where we saw the actual extraction of minerals.

What I will never forget about Philex Mine was while walking the underground halls of the mine, our mine guide (a resident metallurgical engineer), told us to cover our ears. Curious by nature, many of asked why we were asked to do so, I personally thought it was a prank. He didn't answer quite right and told us "Bahala kayo". I complied hesitantly, and as soon as I covered my ears, I heard a loud BANG! and a gush of cold air came passed our way. That was another first for me, as it turns out to be an underground mine blasting activity.

Examining mine walls stability and ore grade.
 (nah, this was just a photo op!)



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