Sagittarius Mines, Incorporated, or SMI, is nothing if not persistent.
The operator of the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato has, this time, appealed to the Office of the President for an environmental clearance certificate or ECC.
The company’s application for an ECC was spurned twice by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, first in January and the second time in May. In both occasions, the DENR cited a provision in the South Cotabato environmental ordinance that bans open pit mining in the province.
SMI had sent the Office of the President a notice that it is appealing for a reconsideration of its EEC application on June 29, 2012. They have one month, or until July 29, in which to submit to the office all the necessary documents for an ECC application.
“We will be working on the [newly-approved] executive order to strengthen our argument. We are also working with the DILG secretary and the Sangguniang Panlalwigan board members to be able to resolve the open pit ban,” said SMI general manager for external communications Mark Williams in a Tuesday press briefing in Koranadal City, South Cotobato.
Based on Section 12 of the newly-approved executive order on minerals policy, EO No. 79, local ordinances must be consistent with the constitution and national laws.
SMI is optimistic that more stakeholders and concerned groups will continue to support the Tampakan project.
“We have multiple appeals from various groups and we expect more now that the EO was approved,” said Williams.
Valued at around $5 billion, the Tampakan copper-gold project is one of the biggest foreign investments projects in the country and touted as one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits.
The project is estimated to be able to contribute an average of P134 billion or $2.8 billion to Philippine gross domestic.
The project is located on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, straddling the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur. — DVM, GMA News