GENERAL SANTOS CITY (15 June) — Indophil Resources NL has requested the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) LTD to halt trading of its shares in the stock market late last week after it received reports that the Provincial Board of South Cotabato passed an environment code that banned open pit mining in the province.
Indophil, which owns 37.5 percent of the shares of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), did not cite any reason for the request but it was apparently trying to ward off market fallout from the ordinance passed by the provincial board.
“Media reports overnight have suggested that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of South Cotabato may pass in the coming week the South Cotabato Environment Code, seeking to ban open pit mining. Indophil Resources NL knows of no reason why this trading halt should not be granted,” Indophil said in a letter to the ASX.
SMI is holder of the Columbio Financial Technical Assisance Agreement which owns the Tampakan Gold and Copper Project in South Cotabato.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes said she will sign the ordinance before she ends her term on June 30.
Indophil shares closed at AUSD 1.10 per share at Thursday’s trading deadline last week.
The Australia-based exploration company requested ASX to suspend trading its shares until Wednesday, June 16.
Indophil is currently negotiating for the sale of its stakes at SMI to Zijin Mining Group of China at a pegged price of AUSD 1.28 per share.
Indophil has a total of 455 million shares at SMI. The rest of the SMI shares are owned by Xstrata Copper, a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Xstrata Plc.
Initial results of the feasibility study launched by Indophil suggest that it will employ open pit method in extracting copper and gold ore at the quad boundaries of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Malungon in Sarangani – all in southcentral Mindanao.
The Catholic Church has been opposing the exploration activities of Indophil and described the passage of the code as “divine intervention.”
The ordinance took almost six years of debates within the provincial government.
Indophil said it will issue a statement within the week.
The Tampakan Copper and gold Project is the largest untapped copper deposit in Southeast Asia with ore reserves pegged at 13.5 million tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold.
SMI is reportedly investing US$ 5.2 billion to extract world-class high-grade copper and gold ore in the area. (Edwin G. Espejo, MindaNews contributor, writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com)