BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is set to bring up to the highest level—the Office of the President—the fate of its $5.9 Billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently dismissed SMI’s appeal to reconsider the agency’s earlier decision denying issuance of an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) to the project.
SMI is now considering its further options which may include an appeal to the Office of the President in accordance with the normal ECC application process, said John Arnaldo, SMI corporate communications manager,.
The appeal to Malacañang may be done before the end of the month, said Mark Williams, SMI general manager for external affairs.
Arnaldo said SMI has two options after the DENR denial of its appeal—the court or the Office of the President.
“SMI is now considering its further options which may include an appeal to the Office of the President in accordance with the normal ECC application process,” Mr. Arnaldo said.
But Arnaldo said SMI’s preferred option is to reach an agreement with the South Cotabato government.
The Tampakan project is a $5.9-billion investment touted as the largest undeveloped copper-gold reserve in Southeast Asia. It is funded by Australia’s Indophil Resources NL and Swiss-based Xstrata Plc, both of which have a 40% controlling stake in SMI.
The DENR denied issuance of ECC to SMI on the basis of the South Cotabato ban on open-pit mining that SMI would use in its Tampakan project. The agency reiterated the ban on open-pit mining when it dismissed last month SMI’s appeal to reconsider its earlier decision.