Tampakan miner denies links to DOF chief

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), the operator of the $5.9-billion Tampakan project, has denied any linkage with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez who is being questioned for his pro-mining stance.

SMI is reacting to recent reports that urge President Duterte to investigate Dominguez’s mining interests, one of which is SMI.

Environmental groups alleged that Dominguez is using his position to intervene in the decision-making in the mining industry.

“Dominguez does not have nor has he ever had any financial or other interest in the corporation,” SMI Corporate Linkages manager Roy Antonio said in a statement.

“This is an incontrovertible fact which is supported by the required filings submitted by the corporation to pertinent government agencies as required by law,” he said.

Former environment secretary Gina Lopez has been vocal in stringing Dominguez in the decisions that favor the industry, including the ongoing review by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council.

Apart from SMI, Dominguez and his family have alleged stakes in Alcantara-owned Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc., Rapu-Rapu project operator Lafayette Philippines Inc., Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp. and United Paragon Mining Corp. for the past years.

But, Dominguez has been firm in dismissing reports linking him to any mining company since the MICC review started.

Meanwhile, the Tampakan project in South Cotabato, dubbed as potentially the country’s biggest foreign investment and believed to be one of the largest gold prospects in the world, has already been stalled after the cancellation of its permit and the of banning of open pit mines nationwide.

The Tampakan mine development is targeted to start operations next year, as part of the $14.75 billion investment for 2018.

The Tampakan deposit contains an estimated 2.94 billion tons of mineral resource containing 15 million tons of copper and 18 million ounces of gold.

The prospective mine is projected to produce 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per year in the initial mine-life of 17 years, with potential for mine-life extension.

The project site covers an area of around 10,000 hectares covering Tampakan, South Cotabato; Columbio in Sultan Kudarat; Kiblawan in Davao del Sur; and Malungon in Sarangani.

Value of the mine’s production is estimated at $37 billion over a period of 20 years.

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