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South Cotabato firmly against open-pit mining

/ 04:14 PM November 24, 2014

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato – The provincial government of South Cotabato has shut the door to a review of the 2010 provincial legislation that bans destructive mining practices from the province.

Among the banned mining practices is open-pit mining, the same system that Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) wants to use in its $5.9 billion copper and gold mining project in Tampakan town.

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South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Fuentes said the provincial government was standing firm on the ban and would not tinker with the province’s environmental code just to accommodate SMI.

She made the statement on Saturday last week, shortly after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) endorsed for further review and evaluation SMI’s project feasibility study.

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The feasibility study, covering the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, focused on the economic, social and environmental viability of the planned large-scale copper and gold mining project.

“The firm spends huge amounts of money to operate its business but it is not spending to mitigate the effects. If not for the water issues, we might have allowed them and I myself will have the courage to lift the ban,” Fuentes told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

She said that while the provincial government wanted to help SMI realize its business, it could not allow farmers to suffer.

“I got the documents from the DENR, including a study they commissioned. It confirms that anything, whether on the ground or below ground, that flows to Lake Buluan will be affected,” she added.

Fuentes said President Aquino had also asked her about the provincial government’s stand on a review of the code.

“I told him that it’s impossible to reverse,” she said.

Fuentes said SMI had been insisting that its operation would not affect the province’s watershed.

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“But if you look at the map, they are going to dig from the top. How can you say it will not affect the (water sources)?” she asked.

Fuentes said she would not mind facing legal battles over the ban.

“I will not feel bad if they bring to court the matter to once and for all determine if we have a stand on this issue,” she added.

SMI is exploring gold and copper deposits on the boundaries of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao Del Sur.

The Tampakan mine is considered one of Southeast Asia’s largest untapped resources with an estimated yield of 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.

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TAGS: DENR, Gov. Daisy Fuentes, Lake Buluan, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Mining, Sagittarius Mines, South Cotabato, Tampakan
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