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Glencore Xstrata ‘to pull out’ of Philippine mining project

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THE TAMPAKAN PROJECT  had run into many problems, chiefly the South Cotabato  provincial government’s Environmental Code which bans open-pit mining; it also faced strong opposition from church, community; communist rebels, leftist organizations and environmental groups

SMI LOGOSwiss mining giant Glencore Xstrata is expected to pull out of a $5.9 billion gold-copper mining project in the Philippines, its Australian partner Indophil said.

Melbourne-based Indophil Resources NL said in a quarterly report released this week that “Glencore Xstrata has advised Indophil of its preference to pursue divestment of its interest in Tampakan.”

“All indications point to Glencore Xstrata seeking to divest its majority interest in the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project,” the report added.

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SOUTH COTABATO calls off review of Sagittarius Mines environmental impact study

November 2, 2012 by mindanaonow

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines — The provincial government of South Cotabato is no longer pursuing a review of the environmental impact study (EIS) of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) after the German team it earlier tapped for its expertise has reportedly backed out.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said the DeutscheGesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH or German Development Cooperation in Manila decided to back off after drawing criticism from environmental groups.

“It created a controversy when it came out in the news, that’s why GIZ called it off,” Pingoy said.

The governor said the proposed EIS review initially came up after his trip to Germany last June.

The review would have “answer all our questions and concerns regarding the Tampakan project,” Rudy Jimenia, Pingoy’s executive assistant earlier said.

The local government was also hoping the GIZ study could break the impasse between SMI and the Diocese of Marbel, which is staunchly opposing the company’s planned large-scale copper and gold mining project in the mountains of Tampakan town.

While saying that the botched study is not a review of the provincial ordinance that banned open pit mining, Pingoy said its results could weigh on the possible review of the controversial South Cotabato Provincial Environment Code.

Pingoy said the proposed cost of the study was very minimal and would have been paid for by the League of Province in the Philippines.

SMI owns the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project that is said to contain the largest untapped deposits of copper and gold in Asia with estimated deposits of up to 15 million metric tons and 17.9 million ounces of copper and gold, respectively.

SMI-Xstrata has repeatedly announced it would pour in US$ 5.9 billion in investments to extract copper and gold deposits in the village of Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato and the neighboring villages.

SMI said “if approved, the mine (is) estimated to yield an average of 375,000 tonnes per annum of copper and 360,000 ounces per annum of gold in concentrate over the 17 year period of mining and ore production.”

If developed, the mine will contribute an average of P134 billion (US$ 2.8 billion) to the country’s annual GDP and 10.4 percent of the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of Regions 11 and 12, according to SMI corporate affairs superintendent Roy Antonio.

But the project’s development is being challenged by the denial of its application for Environmental Compliance Certificate or ECC by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last January.

The DENR cited the standing ban on open-pit mining, which SMI had signified to utilize, as reason for the ECC application’s denial.(PNA)

FOR SAKE OF ENVIRONMENT, President Aquino prepared to dump $5.9 – billion Sagittarius Mining copper-gold project in South Cotabato

Philippines puts Xstrata mine on hold

President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday the government wanted an assurance the single biggest mining investment in the country, Sagittarius Mining Inc. in South Cotabato, would not harm the environment before it would be allowed to proceed with its $5.9 – billion gold-copper project in Tampakan town in Southern Philippines.

Aquino said the assurance should come in a forthcoming law on mining reforms. In the meanwhile, the project is on hold.

Without an assurance on environmental protection, including higher revenues for government,  Aquino said the government was prepared to risk losing “temporary gains” rather than allow fresh mining projects to proceed before the new law was put into place.

“I don’t have that confidence at this point in time that the existing laws do adequately protect our environment or do adequately share the resources that belongs to the people of this country,” he told a press forum.

“So that’s the name of the game. Do I risk the environment, the health of our people, the loss of our resources for some temporary gain at this point in time?”

The $5.9-billion mining project by Swiss giant Xstrata in the Philippines may not begin operations in 2016 as scheduled owing to delays in getting environmental clearance, the government said Wednesday.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the clearance permit for the project would only be considered after a planned new mining reform law took effect, but there was no guarantee that parliament would pass the legislation in time.

“We can not commit, of course, because we do not have control over Congress,” Paje told reporters when asked if the government could ensure the law was passed in time for the Tampakan project to go ahead.

Paje said the government did want to the planned enormous gold and copper mine in the southern Philippines, which would be the country’s largest ever foreign investment, to go ahead.

“We remain committed to the project but we have to start right,” he said.

All new mining permits have been frozen in the Philippines while the government seeks to push through the mining reform law, which would increase royalties firms have to pay as well as improve environment safeguards.

Sagittarius Mines Inc, Xstrata’s local unit that is developing the Tampakan project, had set a timetable of 2016 to begin operations.

It has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the project, but further work has been stymied by a ban from local authorities on a planned giant open pit.

It needs the national government to grant an environmental compliance certificate to overturn the ban. with AFP

Tampakan resets start of commercial operation


BY ROGER M. BALANZA

 The Philippines’ single biggest direct foreign investment today has suffered a temporary setback, pushing its scheduled start of commercial operation by two more years.
    Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), the Phillipine operator of the $5.9-billion copper-gold project in Tampakan, South Cotabato, said it is postponing its start of commercial operations in 2016 due to unresolved issues with the government.


    The Tampakan project, backed by Swiss world giant copper producer Xstrata PLC, is touted as the largest known undeveloped copper and gold reserve in Southeast Asia.
    The estimated copper reserve in Tampakan is  from 13.9 million metric tons to 15 million MT while estimated contained gold is from 16.2 million ounces to 17.9 Moz, according SMI.
    We experienced a number of challenges, particularly in the past 12 months, said SMI communications manager John Arnaldo to explain the change.
    SMI regional affairs manager Elvie Grace Ganchero was reported to have bared the new timetablefor the start of commercial operation to 2018 during a presentation of SMI’s off-lease infrastructure recently in General Santos City.
    Until we have addressed these challenges and obtained the necessary approvals from the government and community, it is difficult to nominate a definitive production date, Arnaldo said.
    Arnaldo enumerated the unresolved issues as the denial to issue an  Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); security issues in the project area; the South Cotabato provincial ordinance banning open-pit mining and new power supply options for the project.
    The ECC is a vital document that will enable SMI  to start operations. SMI has lodged an appeal with Malacanang to overturn the DENR denial.
`    The DENR denied issuance of the ECC on the basis of the Environmental Code approved by the South Cotabato provincial government that banned use of the open-pit mining method that SMI would adopt in the mining area that straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur.
    There is hope however that South Cotabato would amend its mining ordinance to allow open-pit mining following issuance of an executive order by Malacanang that spelled out new mining policies.
    DENR Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said he would talk with South Cotabato officials on the ban in wake of issuance by President Benigno Aquino of Executive Order No. 79, which stipulated that the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which allows open-pit mining,  and other national laws on mining, is over and above local legislation like the Environmental Code.
    SMI also is looking at Maasim in Sarangani for its port facility and coal-fired power plant. a diversion from ist original plan to build the facilities in Malalag, Davao del Sur.
 

Sagittarius Mines moving port facilities to Sarangani


  Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is conducting public consultations in Sarangani province over its plan to put up in the town of Maasim, instead of Malalag, Davao del Sur,  its coal-fired power plant and port facilities.
     The power plant and the docking facilities, including a concentrate pipeline and filter plant, are off-lease infrastructure projects in support of the copper-gold project, said John Arnaldo, SMI external communications and media relations manager.
    Malalag earlier had been identified by SMI as the site for the power plant and port facilities.
    Arnaldo said Maasim is now part of the SMI move for the best option for the facilities even as it is not abandoning Malalag.
    If the plan pushes through, Maasim would be hosting two multi-million dollar coal-fired power plants: SMI’s $900 million 500MW plant and the $450 million, 200 MW pant of Sarangani Energy of the Alcantara group.
    Arnaldo said the public consultations is part of requirements for SMI’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the port facilities and power plant, including the underground pipeline. The EIA is among documents required when SMI applies for Enviromental Compliance Certificate   (ECC) for the off-lease facilities.
    The 100-km 12-inch pipeline, buried six meters deep, would stretch from the Tampakan mining site in South Cotabato to Massim to move concentrates to vessels at the docking facility. Side-by-side with the pipeline would be the transmission lines from the coal-fired plant in Maasim to the minesite.

Sagittarius Mining, Alsons tie up for power project


 Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) and Alsons Energy Development Corp. (AEDC) – a subsidiary of the Alcantara Group, have entered into an agreement for a joint feasibility study for the possible development by AEDC of a coal-fired power station in Maasim, Sarangani to meet the electrical power requirements for SMI’s Tampakan copper-gold project located in Tampakan, South Cotabato.


    The potential power plant will be located in the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone operated by the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone Development Corp. (KAIEDC) in barangay Kamanga, Maasim.
    Under the joint feasibility study, SMI and AEDC will look into the environmental, technical, and financial aspects of the prospective power station. The results of the joint study will help SMI make a final decision on whether AEDC will be selected as the power generation supplier for the Tampakan project. At the current time no final decision about a power source for the Tampakan project has been made.
    AEDC will also be undertaking its own technical studies on the facilities needed by SMI. Both parties have a shared commitment to open engagement with the community ensuring that all aspects of the feasibility study are understood.
    SMI and AEDC have also agreed that all prospective infrastructure development and operational procedures shall be screened through globally accepted environmental standards and best practices, as well as domestic laws and regulations.
    Both parties welcome active community involvement and encourage all political, civil society and media stakeholders to actively participate in the study and to notify the parties of any possible concerns, which will be expeditiously and directly answered by AEDC and SMI. Both parties hope that the community process shall be imbued with fairness, transparency and goodwill towards all concerned.

Arnaldo shoots down Bernie Lopez’s lie


A Manila-based environmentalist has fallen flat on his face over his  accusation that Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) was forcibly relocating native B’laans  from its mining concession in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
    In a recent forum  on mining in Davao City, Bernie Lopez urged SMI, behind the proposed $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project, to “stop its relocation efforts as these will induce violence in the project area.”
    But SMI dismissed as unfounded and a lie the claim of Lopez, an environmentalist with the Lopez Foundation group that is widely known for its campaign against mining.
    Lopez made his misinformed claim in the Davao City forum organized by the Ateneo de Davao University’s Community Engagement and Advocacy Council.
    SMI external communications and media relations manager John Arnaldo denied the company is already relocating people away from the area.
        “Our proposal to relocate 1,000 families (approximately 5,000 people) according to Philippine laws has to undergo a very long process monitored and managed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and other government agencies, including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) before it can start,” Arnaldo said.
    Arnaldo said the company is still in the process of dialogue and consultation with the natives on the relocation, adding that the process has a long way to go before actual relocation happens.
    The SMI spokesman also shot down Lopez’s claim that SMI has committed human rights violations against the B’laans.
    “According to the record of CHR-Region 12, not a single complaint on human rights violation has been filed against the company,” Arnaldo said.
    “According to the record of CHR-Region 12, not a single complaint on human rights violation has been filed against the company,” Arnaldo said.
    “We don’t have any reported human rights abuse cases in the Tampakan area since 2005,” said CHR-Region 12 records officer Anna Mae Panilagao, to confirm Arnaldo’s claim.