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Sagittarius Mines gets ECC for $5.9-B Tampakan mine project

February 19, 2013 12:59pm
(Updated 2:18 p.m.) Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), the local unit of Swiss global miner Xstrata Plc, secured an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold mine in South Cotabato, its spokesman confirmed Tuesday. 
 
 In a separate statement, however, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the ECC is still “subject to certain conditions.”
 
“Yes, we confirm that SMI has received official notification that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has signed the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) for our Tampakan Mine Project,” Manolo Labor, SMI spokesperson, noted in an e-mail to the media. 
 
“We are pleased with this development,” he added.  
 
The ECC, which is a stamp of approval that guarantees a project is not detrimental to the environment, covers SMI’s project in Tampakan, South Cotabato; Aqualung, Kisangani; Columbia in Sultan Karat; and Okinawan in Davao del Sur. 
 
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), a DENR agency which reviews ECC applications, “recommended the issuance of the ECC subject to the implementation of certain conditions... in order to protect and mitigate possible adverse impacts of the project on the community health, welfare and the environment,” said Paje. 
 
Failure to comply with the conditions “may result in the cancellation of the ECC,”  he added. 
 
SMI is mandated to release to the public Taklamakan’s feasibility project, ensure that the area does not cover those where mining is prohibited, and consult with stakeholders, the Cabinet official said. 
 
According to the DENR, Sagittarius Mines could only proceed with the Tampakan project after submitting all other necessary government permits and clearances to the EMB, particularly those covering indigenous peoples, the Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Departments, and local governments.
 
Under the ECC, miner must conform to the provisions on toxic and solid wastes in several clean air, water and mining laws. 
 
The miner is also mandated to observe appropriate practices on vegetative restoration, engineering structure, land use, and soil and water management, as well as ensure proper stockpiling and disposal of generated waste materials and erosion control, according to the ECC. 
 
Pursuant to the  Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the DENR directed SMI to set up teams, programs and funds integrating a final mine rehabilitation and decommissioning plan to be implemented once the project is terminated or completed. 
 
The miner was required to establish a Mine Environmental Protection and Enhancement Office to handle environment-related aspects of the project and monitor the project’s actual impacts versus predicted ones.
 
SMI said it hopes to start mine construction by 2015, two years beyond schedule, before production commences in 2019. It originally aimed to start production in 2016.
 
Conflicting rules and a freeze on new mining permits in the Philippines have stunted the development of the untapped mineral resources, estimated by the government to be worth $850 billion.
 
The Tampakan project, which would be the country's single largest foreign direct investment, affected  by a 2010 ban on open-pit mining imposed by the local government of South Cotabato. 
 
The Tampakan mine is estimated to contain 15 million tons of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold. — Siegfrid O. Alegado/VS, GMA News
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