Tampakan project still faces 'open-pit mining' ban in S.Cotabato

By Coco Alcuaz, ABS-CBN News Channel

Posted at Feb 20 2013 09:37 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2013 05:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The $6-billion Tampakan copper-gold project is one step closer to starting in Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur but remains stalled in its main location South Cotabato.

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said an environment clearance certificate given to the project on Tuesday means one less requirement for the project to fulfill before the final go-signal in the three provinces.

But Paje said there's been no progress in reversing South Cotabato's now almost three-year old ban on open-pit mining, the method the project plans to use.

He said the company chose to negotiate with the provincial government instead of asking the courts for declaratory relief.

Declaratory relief would be a statement by a court regarding the supremacy of national law, which allows open-pit mining and a provincial ordinance that prohibits it.

Paje said the South Cotabato government rejected Tampakan group's appeal.

In a statement, Sagittarius Mines, owner of the Tampakan project and a unit of the global miner Xstrata, said said other requirements including the consent of stakeholders and approval of the local government are still needed to start the project.

"Operations may only happen when we have all approvals. These will still take some time," Sagittarius Mines said.