The Mine Environmental Compliance Certificate for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project has been denied by the Philippine Government’s Environmental Management Bureau and returned to project operator Sagittarius Mines for resubmission once the issue of an open pit mining ban by the Provincial Government is clarified and resolved.
Tampakan, which is in southern Mindanao, is among the most attractive undeveloped long-life, large-scale and low-cost copper deposits in the world. Australia’s Indophil Resources has a 37.5% interest in the project with 62.5% partner Xstrata Copper as project manager and Sagittarius being the venture’s Philippines operating company.
In a statement Indophil says it supports the view that the Tampakan Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process was, by any measure, robust and comprehensive, and the Philippines Government confirmed this during the EIA evaluation period under the auspices of the government’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee. The EIA was completed to the highest international standard which in many respects went beyond legislative requirement in the Philippines.
Indophil’s CEO Richard Laufman identified the key stumbling block to moving forward to approvals and commitment to proceed with development of the deposit as resolution of the provincial open pit ban, a method approved under national law.
In the statement Indophil said it has become more active in seeking local Philippine shareholders and together have made recommendations to improve the operating structure and effectiveness of Sagittarius Mines. Richard Laufman says, “We believe that this delay can be overcome in the near term with the support of our Philippine corporate shareholders, and a committed and aligned response from Xstrata and Indophil.”
Indophil says it will also accelerate moves to seek listing of Indophil on the Philippine Stock Exchange which would make it the first dual Australian-Philippines publicly-listed company, and provide more direct involvement and access to Philippine investors.
Sagittarius says it is ‘extremely disappointed’ with the bureau’s decision and that it will immediately file an appeal for a reconsideration.
Tampakan was discovered, and is being developed, under formal agreement with the Philippine Government, on behalf of the people of the Philippines.
It is estimated to require a US$5.9 billion capital investment, with first production expected in 2016. The deposit contains a 2.4 billion tonne resource with an estimated 13.9 million tonnes of copper and 16.2 million ounces of gold. It is projected to annually produce 375,000 tonnes of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold in the initial mine life of 17 years, with considerable and realistic potential for mine life extension.