Major mining company Glencore Xstrata has cleared a crucial hurdle for the development of what could be the largest copper-gold mining project in the Philippines.
Leo Jasareno, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said that the Glencore Xstrata-led private contractor for the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project has secured majority local government endorsement, which is one of the main requirements for its Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF) to be approved.
“They were able to acquire endorsement of the majority. They have the support of all the local government units, including all the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Bayan and Barangay, affected by the project,” Jasareno told reporters.
Under the Mining Act of 1995, a mining company should have the endorsement of the majority of LGUs to secure government approval for its DMPF.
DMPF – which includes a proponent’s final rehabilitation plan for the venture and an environmental protection and enhancement program, among others – is the final requirement for a mining company to commence development of a project.
“As far as the MGB is concerned, they have already met the requirement,” he added.
Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is the local contractor of the Tampakan project in behalf of its shareholders Glencore, Indophil Resources NL and the Tampakan Group of companies.
Tampakan, which has one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits, straddles four provinces in Mindanao – South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur.
At present, the MGB chief said only the South Cotobato provincial government has yet to endorse the project, mainly because of the current ban on open-pit mining under its Environment Code.
Asked whether the majority endorsement by the LGUs would supersede South Cotabato’s ban on open-pit mining, Jasareno said: “The ban is still in place. But the Philippine Mining Act only requires majority LGU endorsement, which SMI has already complied with. So as far as the rules are concerned, they have already met it.”
He also noted that both the late Jesse Robredo, former secretary of the Department of
Interior and Local Government Secretary, and current DILG Secretary Mar Roxas have already issued a national government position on the open-pit ban, saying that a local government ordinance that is inconsistent with the Constitution must be struck down.
Having secured majority LGU endorsement for the project, SMI will now have to address two remaining issues – agrarian reform claims and the project’s fiscal regime or profit-sharing with the national government, Jasareno said.
“If they meet these requirements, then we can endorse their DMPF,” Jasareno said.
Tampakan, which represents one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the Southeast Asia-Western Pacific region, is estimated to have reserves of 15 million tons of contained copper and nearly 18 million ounces of gold.
Total taxes and royalties that would accrue to the Philippine government over the 20-year life of the project is estimated at P346 billion or $7.2 billion.