Sagittarius Mines, the Philippines-based company and Xstrata Plc unit that will operate the Tampakan copper-gold project in southern Mindanao, says it aims to get a permit from the government this year to proceed with the giant project.1

Sagittarius general manager Mark Williams stated during the Asia Mining Congress in Singapore, “We would want to get the approval completed this year.”

The company later said in a statement that it expects to commence operation at Tampakan by the end of 2016. It is also hoping that the national government can assist in ensuring the project progresses.

Mark Williams said, “If developed, the Tampakan Project, will generate significant economic benefits that will stimulate the Philippine economy and will be potentially life changing for many Filipinos. With a required capital investment of US$5.9 billion, the Tampakan project would be the largest foreign direct investment in the Philippines.

“It is estimated that the project would contribute an average of 1% of the annual gross domestic product for the Philippines, and provide around 10,000 jobs during construction, and about 2000 during operation.

“Through facilitating local recruitment and training opportunities, local procurement, and the implementation of community development programs, SMI intends to maximize economic benefits for local communities,” said Williams.

A ban on open pit mining by the regional government area covering the Tampakan project has put a cloud over the development but the national government has told Sagittarius and its partner Indophil Resources that it is the country's interests for development of South East Asia's largest untapped gold and copper deposit to progress and the companies are hopeful the impasse can be resolved.

Xstrata has also been in talks with provincial officials on the prohibition because open-pit is the proposed extraction method for Tampakan. The $5.9-billion mine is estimated to produce an average 340,000 tonnes of copper and 350,000 ounces of gold a year for two decades from 2016.

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