South Cotabato not opposed to mining, only to open-pit operations
KORONADAL, South Cotabato, Philippines—Gov. Arthur Pingoy of South Cotabato said Saturday the withholding of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the Tampakan gold and copper project of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. was not the end of the world for the mining company.
“If they want to still go on with their project, we ask them to use other methods except open pit,” Pingoy told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
SMI president Peter Forrestal said earlier they were extremely disappointed by the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to withhold the issuance of an ECC to the project.
He said SMI intended seek a reconsideration.
Pingoy said that if SMI could not get an ECC for its planned open-pit mining, then it can always try other methods of extracting the gold and copper deposits in Tampakan.
He said the provincial government was not against SMI’s mining plan itself but the method it intended to use.
Last year, the provincial board approved a ban on open-pit and other dangerous mining practices, including sluice mining, in the province.
“We don’t want them to stop,” he said.
But Fr. Gillarme Joy Pelino, director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, said the government should not stop at the non-issuance of an ECC to SMI.
He said anti-mining advocates want the government to declare Tampakan’s mineral-rich mountains as protected areas.
“The source of water of the people in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur is in the town. If SMI finally operates, the water will get contaminated,” Pelino said.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the denial of an ECC to SMI was a victory against wide-scale deforestation and destructive intrusions of large-scale mining in the country.
SMI had repeatedly denied its mining plan would result in massive environmental damage.
“Our Mine Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which fully complies with the requirements of the DENR’s own ECC process is backed by a world-class environmental impact assessment study,” Forrestal said.
“Our EIS is one of the most comprehensive environmental impact assessment studies ever undertaken in the Philippines, which was prepared in line with international standards and further strengthened by the feedback gained from a two-year consultation process that involved more than 9,000 stakeholders,” he added.