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'Manage impact of Tampakan project, not ban it'

MANILA, Philippines - Managing its impact is the key to the proposed Tampakan copper-gold project, said university professor and geology expert Dr. Carlos Arcilla of the National Institute on Geological Sciences (NIGS).

“The science behind mining, or the key behind Tampakan, is managing its impact in the form of tailings or disturbance of the environment that may lead to landslides,” Arcilla said.

Arcilla said, “Proper engineering is also important,” adding that “engineering and geological considerations” also lead to the choice of mining methods.

“The question is if the project proponent has the financial and technical capacity to absorb the demands of impact management,” Arcilla said.

Arcilla pointed out the good track record of Xstrata, the foreign partner of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), the government contractor for the Tampakan project.

“Xstrata has a pretty good reputation worldwide, it is known to be very strict with its corporate culture,” Arcilla said.

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Arcilla also said it is important for everyone to check available data and studies.

“By studying the environmental impact assessment prepared for the Tampakan project, we will know what to prepare for in terms of risk management,” Arcilla said.

“You cannot just say that the Tampakan project will cause earthquake and volcanic eruptions without considering proper engineering and existing baseline data,” Arcilla said.

“With proper engineering you can ensure that the geology of the area will be able to support mining activities and its facilities,” he said.

Arcilla said he supports the Tampakan project not just as a geologist but also someone who wants progress for Mindanao.

“When a single project increases the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by a whole percentage point, that is something,” he said.

Arcilla said, “Mindanao is very rich with mineral deposits, gold, copper, nickel, chrome, name it you have it, and the Tampakan project will trigger growth for a sustainable mining industry in the region.”

Arcilla cited Tagum, Davao del Norte as a progressive gold processing town, “but with 70 percent of its total daily production coming from small-scale mining.”

“Small-scale mining activities do not have the financial and technical capacity to adhere to environmental regulations,” Arcilla said.

He said, “Small-scale mining operators oftentimes don’t have the capacity to invest in a proper tailings pond or dam, for instance.”

“We have a strict Mining Act, what we need are companies who are willing to invest in mining impact management,” Arcilla said.

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