Gen. Deveraturda’s Update on the Tampakan Project

By: Marcelle P. Villegas March 14, 2023

7 Nov. 2022 at Manila Elks Club, Retired Lieutenant General Roy O. Deveraturda of the Armed Forces of the Philippines was the keynote speaker for the PMEA Monthly Membership Meeting. He is now the President of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (Photo by Marcelle P. Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal)


Before the year ended, the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) invited Retired Lieutenant General Roy O. Deveraturda as the keynote speaker for the November PMEA Monthly Membership Meeting. As the newly appointed president of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. he reported some updates on the Tampakan Project”.

 Mr Roy Deveraturda is a former lieutenant general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). He started as an aviation cadet in 1978. Then, he was commissioned in the Philippine Air Force in 1980. With his Military Pilot Badge after graduating from the Aviation Cadet Program of the Philippine Air Force Flying School, he later became an attack pilot of the 15th Strike Wing. He had more than 50 combat missions. General Deveraturda held the highest aircrew qualifications as Test Pilot, Flight Commander, Instructor Pilot, and Flight Examiner for AT-28D Trojan “Tora Tora” and the OV-10A Bronco. [1]

He retired as a Lieutenant General in Philippine Air Force on August 17, 2014, after having commanded the AFP's entire Visayas area and then the Western Philippine Area, including the West Philippine Sea. He was one of AFP's most decorated officers. More notably, he was in charge of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for the Bohol earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Gen. Deveraturda became the Department of National Defense Assistant Secretary for the Plans and Programs in 2015. He joined the mining industry in 2018 when he was recruited to be the President of Carmen Copper Corp.

From there he now moved and have been appointed in May 2022 as President of Sagittarius Mines Inc. to bring the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project towards construction and development at the soonest possible time.

Looking back: A photo from 17 Nov. 2013 in Tacloban, with Former Australian Ambassador to the Philippines,
H.E. Bill Tweddell with General Deveraturda of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
(Photo credit and caption: Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Anne Orquiza)


School of Hard Knocks

Gen. Deveraturda started his speech with words of gratitude to the officers and members of PMEA, and all attendees for the evening. He gave recognition to the role of PMEA in the revival of the mining industry in the country despite all odds. 

He said, “I couldn't help but feel the overwhelming sense of gratitude and I am honoured and humbled.”

“I started in mining in 2016 when my employer talked to me and asked me, ‘Can you help? We have a problem in Cebu.’ We are referring here to Carmen Copper Corp. under Atlas Mining Corporation. I went there to Cebu with the decision right way, that whatever happens, I will say, ‘I will help.’ My job was to ensure that the company will pass the extracting audit procedures being undertaken by the then Secretary of DENR, the late Gina Lopez.”

Gen. Deveraturda is now on his 7th year in the mining industry. Many people would often ask him with his military background, what is he doing here in a mining company?

He would give a humble reply, “I always tell them, ‘Actually, I am the most unlikely choice for the job, and you are smarter than me.’ I will always admit that.”

“I learned about mining in Carmen Copper to the school of hard knocks. With that, I'd like to take this opportunity of course to always give thanks and express my gratitude to all the people who helped me learn the rudiments of mining.”

The key points of his speech contained an update on the Tampakan Project. Secondly, he gave his insights on the importance of mining in the country.


Update on the Tampakan Project

“The project, as you all know, is the one of the world's largest undeveloped copper and gold mining project. It is located in the southernmost portion of Mindanao and held under an FTAA agreement by Sagittarius Mines Inc.”

“The company is committed to responsible and sustainable development with ESG (environmental, social, and governance) at the core of managing the project. The project is a national priority considering that the mining industry is acknowledged by the government's economic team as an indispensable contributor to Philippine economic growth -- the greatest potential to be the key driver in economic recovery and long-term goals. At the moment, all regulatory approvals have been completed.”

He mentioned that the project obtained an FTAA that expires in 2038, and renewable for another 25 years.

“The community development initiatives have resulted to strong acceptance and support from the municipalities of South Cotabato and tribal councils in the area. The project is the endorsement of four municipalities, all of them, of course, and 10 barangays as host communities. Consent from 11 indigenous control communities was formalised to memorandum of agreement.

“More importantly, the regional development council for region 12 declared the project as the flagship project on mineral development. The project has a mine life of 40+ years using the PACE development approach starting with 15 million tonnes per annum for the first 10 years in the initial phase and it is expected the start of production in the 4th quarter of 2025.”

Then General Deveraturda later talked about the global demand for copper in relation to the worldwide need for the development of green technologies.

“I shared with you that demand for mineral-based products will intensify. Recent research showed that for a greener earth, more mining is needed rather than less. In short, if you are to achieve green emissions, you will be needing a lot of copper. I am confident that the demand will always be there. I am worried where the supply will come from.”

On the possible shortage of copper in the future, “This situation has potential to stall global growth and increase inflation, and the country will be affected. Trafigura, one of the largest commodity traders had recently warned that the world is running low on copper. They said, ‘The copper market is today running with inventories that cover 4.9 days of global consumption, and this is expected to finish this year at 2.7 days.’”

He clarified that inventory used to be measured in weeks, but now it is quantified in days, which means the supply is being consumed fast.

“Bloomberg News reported last November 1, 2022 that Saudi Arabia is seeking investments from Australian miners to support its 170-billion dollar plan to build a mining industry and diversify its oil-dependent economy this decade.”

“What are these revelations, among others, mean to all of us? It means that other governments are initiating actions to achieve a robust national mining industry.”

“For us, I would argue that the time has come for the national government or the Philippine government as well, to aggressively encourage and care for investment in mining sector and provide certainty and stability that the industry needs to operate and ensure its long-term success. We have to act now.”

“My prayer is that we finally see the change on how the industry sees itself, that this business is seen as solution to social problems rather than seen as a problem.”

“There is a need also to veer away from the simplistic views on mining and focus on the strict and mandatory conformance to our mining law based on its real intent and spirit. We are all aware that the law calls for a harmonious coordination of all actions and socio-cultural, economic and political realm. It is coordination of all these factors that could provide for the real meaning of what sustainable and responsible mining is all about… Mainly the government under the rule that they the enabler of shared value creation, the private sector providing investments that create this wealth for everyone, the market forces that act on incentives, the politics that exist for good governance, and the state with all its concentration of power renders justice for all regardless of social status and wealth.”

General Deveraturda mentioned that the mining industry has the potential to provide our national prosperity and could also propel our country high up to its rightful place in the world economic standing.

“As I am speaking to you now we are 38th among the 200 nations in terms of real GDP ranking. And mind you, I will always take the view that we could easily barge in the top 30.”

To conclude, the General mentioned that SMI reiterates their solemn commitment to contribute in the attainment of the company's economic objectives.

“How do we do this? By creating shared social, environmental, and economic values.”

“So in closing, let me site Salvador Lopez in his book ‘Isles of Gold: A History of Mining in the Philippines’. This book was published in 1992. He said, ‘There is of course the need to utilize and conserve the country's minerals as wisely and judiciously possible for the good of the greater number, including and especially generations yet unborn.’”

“We know that we have 1 to 1.4 pessimistic estimate of a trillion-dollars-worth of untapped resource laying underground of this archipelago, not to mention the minerals that can be found in our seabed. So Sagittarius Mines Inc. therefore echoes Lopez's assertion. Tampakan project and all our actions are directed to achieve the summoned goal for the ultimate good.”


Additional reference:

[1] The Manila Times (25 Nov. 2018). “Piloting Carmen Copper to Greater Heights”.

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