SoCot OK lifting of open-pit mining ban
by Philippine Resources - May 17, 2022
Eleven of 15 members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato approved Monday the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining in Tampakan town. The copper and gold mine project in Tampakan is touted as the largest in Southeast Asia. (Photo courtesy of SP South Cotabato)
The majority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) members approved Monday the amendments to the environment code of South Cotabato province, particularly the provision on the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining in Tampakan town.
Voting for the ban's lifting were SP board members Glezel Trabado, who acted as presiding officer in the absence of Vice Governor Vicente de Jesus, Larry de Pedro VI, chairman of the Environment Committee, Dardanilo Dar, Noel Escobillo, Antonio Fungan, Eamon Gabriel Mati, and Henry Ladot.
Also backing the move were Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Edgar Sambong, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)Federation president Alaisa Marie Fale, Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president Rolando Malabuyoc, and Philippine Councilors League (PCL) South Cotabato Chapter president Grace Achura.
Board Member Ester Marin Catorce, who opposed the amendment and was designated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as acting governor, was absent during Monday’s regular session.
“None of them objected, as acting governor by the rule of succession I cannot attend the session. Governor Tamayo is out of the country while Vice Governor Vicente De Jesus, who underwent an operation, was not present,” Catorce said.
Catorce said she asked a colleague to defer the deliberation of the amendment because of the many issues that still need discussion. Her request, she said, was not granted.
SP members Ellen Grace Subere-Albios and Jinky Avance-Samodal, who also both opposed the open-pit mining operation, were also absent in the regular session.
Ordinance 04, Series of 2010, entitled “An Ordinance Providing for the Environment Code of the Province of South Cotabato,” was passed on June 9, 2010.
In 2015, SP filed a resolution affirming the open-pit mining ban in the province.
Pro-mining groups earlier said the open-pit mining ban in South Cotabato hampered the development of the copper and gold mine project in Tampakan, touted as the largest in Southeast Asia.
Anti-mining groups, however, said the project endangered not only the environment but also the lives of residents.
Sagittarius Mines Inc. has been pursuing the Tampakan gold project for years. By Roel Osano
Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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Philippine Resources - July 07, 2021
South Cotabato to Reassess Tampakan Copper-Gold Project
South Cotabato officials will take another look at the delayed USD5.9 billion copper and gold project of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan town in the wake of the government’s move to accelerate its operations amid the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said on Monday they will evaluate anew the proposed mining project even as he reiterated the local government’s stance to only allow “responsible mining” operations in the province. He confirmed that he met late last week with officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led by Undersecretary Jim Sampulna to discuss the status of the mining project. “The government wants to push through with the pending mining projects, including the one in Tampakan, to help our economy recover,” he said in his weekly radio program. Also present in the meeting were Assistant Secretary Nonita Caguioa, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) acting director Wilfredo Moncano, MGB-Mining Tenements Management Division chief Danilo Deleña, and MGB-Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division head Marcial Mateo. Tamayo said he has no problem with mining as long as it is done responsibly, and that the people and the environment are protected in the process. He said that has been his long-time stance and those of the previous top officials of the province, which has a standing ban on open-pit mining as set in the Provincial Environment Code approved in 2010. But he said SMI officials declared in a recent meeting that they are no longer pursuing the controversial mining method. Tamayo said he asked them to make another formal presentation to the provincial government, especially to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board, regarding their proposed mining operation. “We want to see all the angles of what they are planning to do in Tampakan,” he said. The Tampakan project, which started in 1995, failed to take off as planned due to various problems, among them the ban on open-pit mining in the province. The Regional Trial Court Branch 24 in Koronadal City dismissed in October last year a petition for declaratory relief and injunction filed by pro-mining groups against the provincial government over the open-pit ban. The mining project, once approved, “would be the largest in the Philippines and among the largest copper mines in the world,” a company briefer said. It estimated an average yield of 375,000 tons per annum of copper and 360,000 ounces per annum of gold in concentrate over a 17-year period of mining and ore production. The proposed mine site covers around 10,000 hectares situated in the boundaries of Tampakan, South Cotabato, and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur. Article Courtesy of Allen Estabillo - Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - May 20, 2022
Tampakan copper-gold project to benefit locals: solon
Photo credit: Sagittarius Mines Inc. Senator Francis Tolentino said the Tampakan copper-gold project being pushed to resume by Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, South Cotabato will be beneficial to local residents. Tolentino said on Thursday the Tampakan copper-gold project will be "cost-effective" and safe. "Cost effective yung extraction ng open-pit mining kasi mababaw lang ang paghuhukay niyan eh, makukuha agad yung mina (The open-pit mining extraction is cost effective because the excavation will be shallow and the mine will be easily extracted)," he said in "Sa Ganang Mamamayan" program of Net25. Tolentino, however, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should see to it that the rehabilitation plan will be properly implemented. "Ang nakikita ko lang dito, ganon din siguro sa mga outlying communities, sundin yung rehabilitation plan kung meron man yung DENR. I-monitor naman ng DENR, huwag pabayaan ng DENR. Dapat nakatutok lagi sila. (What I can see here, just like maybe the outlying communities, follow the rehabilitation plan if DENR has. DENR should monitor, DENR must not ignore. They should always focus)," he said. After the Tampakan copper-gold project halted four years ago, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed in April 2021 the lifting of the moratorium on open-pit mining. The South Cotabato Provincial Board also lifted its ban on open-pit mining giving the SMI a go-signal to proceed with its stalled USD5.9-billion project. DENR Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna vowed they will ensure that SMI will comply with its rehabilitation obligations and environmental protection, assuring that the environment will not be sacrificed. "We will also require SMI to invest in equipment and manpower to ensure mitigation in case of any adverse impacts from the mining operation,” Sampulna said. According to SMI, the Tampakan project is noted as one of the largest untapped copper and gold minefields in Southeast Asia. The mining company expects the project to yield an average of 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per year. By Wilnard Bacelonia Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - May 23, 2022
Body formed to study revision that lifted SoCot mining ban
Photo: South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. Photo from the South Cotabato provincial government Facebook page The South Cotabato government has created a Technical Working Group (TWG) to study the Sangguniang Panlalawigan's (SP) amendment to the province's environment code that lifted the open-pit mining ban. In an interview Friday, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said his decision on whether to veto or not the lifting of the open-pit mining ban will depend on the TWG’S recommendations Tamayo said he has yet to receive the amended ordinance. Within 15 days, the governor can veto or approve the amendments to the province’s environmental code before it lapses into law. “An Ordinance Providing for the Environment Code of the Province of South Cotabato” was passed on June 9, 2010. “For now, I cannot say because I don’t want to preempt the decision and findings of the TWG, but I assure you that we are looking at what is good for everybody,” Tamayo said. In a meeting Thursday with Bishop Cerilo Alan Casicas of the Diocese of Marbel, who supported the open-pit mining ban, the governor said the provincial government must consider several issues and concerns before arriving at a decision. “Quarrying is part of an open pit, and what the SP approved in Lake Sebu is also an open pit. It will be contradicting if the open-pit mining ban will not be lifted,” Tamayo said. “We will sit again together with the Bishop and Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) to talk about what is right or wrong, and it is important that I can come up with the decision two days before the deadline,” he noted. Meanwhile, Casicas said he hopes the governor will decide "based on the wisdom of the majority" of South Cotabato residents. During Thursday's meeting with the governor, the bishop led a group of some 3,000 protesters to the provincial grounds. “The most important factor is the wisdom of the people more than our voices and SMI,” Casicas said. Meanwhile, Board Member Ester Marin Catorce, an anti-mining advocate, denied the amended ordinance was recalled by the SP majority group. On Monday, 11 of 15 SP members approved the measure to lift the 12-year-old open-pit mining ban in the province. The SMI has been pursuing the Tampakan gold project in the province for years amid stiff opposition, primarily from the local Catholic diocese. By Roel Osano Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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Philippine Resources - July 01, 2022
Sampulna cites need for more mineral processing plants to boost PH production
Photo credit: DENR - Mr. Jim O. Sampulna Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna pushed for the establishment of more mineral processing plants and utilization of rare earth deposits to help increase the country’s mineral production and revenue generation. “Mineral processing plants make the mined mineral ready to use for application. For example, limestone, if processed, will become cement, which is ready to use for construction,” Sampulna cited. “If we have more of these plants and more minerals will be processed in the country, then its value will increase even more than 100 percent, and lesser raw materials will be shipped out to other countries, like Japan or China,” he said. The DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau has so far issued 108 mineral processing permits, most of which are for construction materials. Likewise, Sampulna proposed the identification of rare earth elements (REEs), such as scandium and yttrium, in operating mines. Sampulna, who was the former DENR undersecretary for mining, said that these metals are essential parts for many high-technology devices. “The Philippines is conducive to these minerals. It could contribute to the national government through the identification and utilization of these commodities. To date, there are only a few operating mines which have identified REEs,” he said. Sampulna cited that a proposed iron mineral processing plant in Zamboanga had its groundbreaking ceremony on June 18, to support the DENR’s initiatives toward self-utilization of mineral commodities in the country. “We hope that investors will push for the opening of more processing plants in the Philippines,” he said. He also assured Filipinos that the DENR will continue to strengthen its regulation and monitoring of mining operations to ensure sustainable and responsible mineral production in the country. Article courtesy of Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Philippine Resources - June 29, 2022
DENR Awards MGB with Plaque of Appreciation for the Success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation
Photo: The MGB Boracay Island Rehabilitation Team together with former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu Four years after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the rehabilitation of the Boracay Island, the DENR Acting Secretary and Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Chair Jim O. Sampulna CESO I awarded the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) a Plaque of Appreciation for its valuable contribution to the success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation during the BIATF’s culminating event on June 16, 2022. Boracay Island is one of the most developed and densely populated karstic islands in the Philippines. The extensive alteration of its natural landscape, as well as the alleged discharge of wastewater into the sea, posed a major environmental concern, prompting its temporary closure on April 26, 2018. The BIATF then launched the rehabilitation of Boracay island to safeguard its sustainable development. As part of the BIATF, the MGB team, led by Lands Geological Survey Division (LGSD) Chief Liza Socorro J. Manzano, was composed of technical personnel from the LGSD of MGB Central Office and the Geosciences Division of MGB Regional Office No. VI. The team conducted studies on hydrogeology, coastal geohazards, karst subsidence hazard, and geophysical investigations using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and georesistivity. The highly specialized studies sought to provide a holistic understanding of the island’s karstology and the impacts of tourism development to ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the government are predicated on the ecological sustainability of the small island karst. Ultimately, the results of the GPR investigation on pipes discreetly disposing wastewater and polluting the seawater of Boracay which resulted in the discovery of their existence and eventual dismantling of the same is a "game-changer" relative to the implementation of science-based strategies and crafting of policies for appropriate wastewater and solid waste management in the island. Article courtesy of the MGB
Philippine Resources - June 28, 2022
The Fault with Cobalt: Overcoming the Challenges of Battery Metal Exploration
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