Climate and Environment

Green groups condemn lifting of ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato

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Green groups condemn lifting of ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato
Undated photo shows a Blaan village in mineral-rich Tampakan town in South Cotabato.
Philstar.com/John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental groups condemned the move of the South Cotabato provincial government to lift a ban on open-pit mining in the province, saying the policy reversal will put the environment and the lives of residents at risk.

On Monday, South Cotabato’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan voted to amend its environmental code to allow open-pit mining.

The development removed the final regulatory obstacle for the stalled Tampakan copper-gold project, Wilfredo Moncano, director of the environment department’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau, told Agence France-Presse.

The Tampakan project has been described as “one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world.”

“Lifting the open-pit mine ban will allow mining projects to destroy life-giving watershed ecosystems within South Cotabato,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment. 

“The Tampakan mining project will destroy the Altayan-Taplan River ecosystems in the Quezon mountain range, while various coal mining projects are poised to ravage the Daguma mountain range,” he added.


Alyansa Tigil Mina accused the members of Sangguniang Panlalawigan of railroading the process of amending the environmental code of the province.

“They hastily approved in a regular session a motion to adopt proposed amendments, without any discussion or votation,” the group said, adding the proposed amendments were not originally part of the proposal presented to the public.

It added that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “cheated” those who attended public hearings and submitted position papers, and the residents of the province.

“The SP cheated the future generation of their right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. By allowing open-pit mining, considered to be the most dangerous mining method, the SP members put at risk the lives of the next generations,” Alyansa Tigil Mina said.

Kalikasan-PNE called on South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo to veto the proposed amendments. In March, Tamayo endorsed a proposal to keep the ban on open-pit mining, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

In December 2021, the Duterte administration lifted the nationwide ban on open-pit mining in a bid to bring more money into the Philippines after the economic slowdown brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte’s successor, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., earlier said “sustainable” mining could be done in the country, but he was wary of the open-pit mining method because of its environmental impacts.




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