The Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it is set to intervene on behalf of Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN) to help convince the South Cotabato provincial government to allow open-pit mining in the area, DENR Secretary Jose Atienza said Friday.
“We’re working that out. We’re trying to get the provincial government to allow responsible mining. We will definitely be supporting responsible mining all the way,” Atienza said, referring to a pending proposal at the government’s provincial legislative body to ban open-pit mining in the area. The proposed ban is part of South Cotabato’s proposed provincial environmental code.
If approved, the ban may adversely affect Xstrata’s Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, located in the province.
Atienza said he will call for a dialogue with local officials concerned to thresh out the issue of open mining in the province.
“We’ll have to explain to them what is open mining technically and the benefits in their local economies from these mining concerns,” Atienza said, adding he has also urged Xstrata to coordinate with local communities. “It has to be both ways, they can’t always be running to us,” he added.
Initial studies have shown that Xstrata is likely to use open pit mining to extract deposits, said an official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
“The type or method of mining is dictated by the deposit, it’s not by choice of the company. In the case of Tampakan, the initial indication of research is to do open pit mining,” the official said.
Xstrata owns 62.5% of Tampakan, which is currently in an extended pre-feasibility stage. A pre-feasibility study, completed in September 2006, confirmed that the project is a 2 billion-metric tonne resource containing 11.6 million tonnes of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold at a 0.3% copper cut-off grade.
Development cost for the Tampakan project is estimated to reach up to US$2 billion. It is expected to have a mine life of around 50 years.