On August 16, the Diocese of Marbel in South Cotabato started a signature drive to keep the ban on copper and gold open-pit mining in the province and prevent Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) from resuming mining work in Tampakan. (Read: Caritas PH Condemns Duterte for Lifting the Mining Ban)
It also calls on the local government unit of South Cotabato to maintain and stand firm on their legislation that prohibits open-pit mining in the province.
Protecting the environment and its constituents
According to the diocese, the local government should always put its constituents and the environment first before anything else.
“This is the right thing to do and to ensure that the future generations inherit a better society enjoying the fruits of a sound environment,” the Diocese of Marbel said in a statement.
The diocese also previously said that the Tampakan project “failed to convince us that it will bring genuine development.” The US$ 5.9 billion project started in 1995 but has since been delayed by various factors, including the province’s mining ban which was approved in 2010 as part of the Provincial Environmental Code. (Read: Everything You Should Know About Mining Engineering)
Reconsiderations in July
In July, reports that the local government is considering the resumption of mining projects in the province amid the pandemic surfaced. South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. was quoted to have said that “the government wants to push through with the pending mining projects, including the one in Tampakan, to help our economy recover.”
In the same month, the LGU met with SMI officials, and they have said that they will no longer be pursuing the controversial mining method.
If the project were to be given the green light, it would be one of the largest copper mines in the world. An estimated 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” were claimed by the company.