Gov't panel endorses Tampakan mine
A recent meeting of the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) endorsing the issuance of an environmental clearance certificate to Sagittarius Mines Inc. for its Tampakan gold-copper mining operations in southern Mindanao prompted Malacañang to remand SMI’s motion for reconsideration of its twice-denied ECC application back to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for disposition.
Speaking on condition that he not be named, a ranking Executive branch official confirmed that the Palace remanded the Tampakan mines case to the DENR for it to review the possibility of reconsidering its rejection of SMI’s ECC following the MICC meeting last month.
But the source, who was privy to the MICC deliberations, clarified that the council simply decided to “urge, not order” the DENR to consider giving the ECC to SMI.
He also disclosed that the Department of Justice rendered an opinion that was furnished to the DENR that an ECC may be granted to SMI’s Tampakan mining operations even if there was an open-pit mining prohibition by the local government in the project site.
Earlier, Press Secretary Ricky Carandang confirmed that the Office of the President on January 31 remanded to the DENR the motion for reconsideration filed by SMI with instructions for the department to “determine whether Sagittarius complied with all the requirements for an ECC.”
Industry sources told BusinessMirror, however, that DENR officials initially found it difficult to justify issuing an ECC to SMI because one of the key provisions for the required clearance is the project’s social acceptability, meaning, there should be no resistance to it from residents in and around the prospective project site.
The Tampakan project was billed in the SMI web site as “one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits.” SMI’s shareholders in the project are Xstrata Copper, Indophil Resources NL and Tampakan Group of Companies.
SMI added that the Tampakan gold-copper project, once developed, could provide “a significant contribution to the economic prosperity of the Philippines and enable a better future for the people of southern Mindanao.”
It assured restive residents that the company is “deeply committed to upholding and promoting the rights of local communities hosting our Tampakan Project.”