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Business

Miners welcome lifting of open pit mining ban

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) welcomed the decision of South Cotabato’s provincial legislative board to lift the ban on open pit mining as it would pave the way for the development of the Tampakan copper gold project, which is seen to boost economic activity in the Mindanao region.

“Together with Silangan and Kingking – two other copper-gold projects in Mindanao – Tampakan would be a powerful vehicle to achieve a vibrant, multi-faceted local and regional economy that provides sustainable employment, business opportunities, and access to education, health, infrastructure, and other social development programs that will improve and enhance the quality of life of those living in these projects’ host and neighboring communities, including their children,” COMP chairman Michael Toledo said in a statement.

“When these projects go full swing, they can increase yearly national government revenues by P12 billion a year, local government revenues by P1.5 billion, exports by almost $2 billion, and social expenditures by close to P800 million per year,” he said.

The Tampakan project of Sagittarius Mines Inc. has the potential to yield an average of 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold in concentrate per annum over the proposed 17-year life of the mine.

According to COMP, national taxes to be generated from phase 1 or the first 10 years of the Tampakan propject’s operations are estimated to reach P68 billion.

Local taxes are estimated to reach P4 billion, royalty for indigenous peoples at P4.8 billion, and Social Development and Management Program at P2.6 billion.

“The Tampakan project will be an essential post-pandemic economic recovery tool whose actual and potential benefits far outweigh the potential negative impacts,” Toledo said.

In March, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna said the government would respect the outcome of the public hearings called by the provincial board on the proposed amendments to the Environment Code.

COMP said the lifting of the ban on open pit mining in South Cotabato aligns the local government unit’s environment code with national laws on mining, which allow this primary method of minerals extraction used by thousands of mines worldwide.

“Open pit mines can be operated safely, according to globally accepted standards, and can be rehabilitated properly in a manner that provides alternative and productive land use after the life of the mine,”COMP said.

Last December, former DENR secretary Roy Cimatu issued an order, lifting the ban on the open-pit method for mining for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores in the country.

COMP said it welcomes any regulatory changes that would allow the revitalization of mining in the country. It said the recent easing of mining policies, including this move by the South Cotabato LGU, would increase investment appetite for the industry.

“We look forward to further growth under the new administration and are ready to contribute to economic growth, even as we continue to be fully mindful of our environment, social, and governance performance for the benefit of present and future generations of Filipinos,” he said.

CHAMBER OF MINES OF THE PHILIPPINES

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