KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/16 Aug) – Foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. is now considering Maasim town in Sarangani as a potential site for its coal-fired power plant and port facilities in support of its Tampakan copper-gold project, a company official confirmed on Wednesday.
John Arnaldo, Sagittarius Mines external communications and media relations manager, said they have commenced early this week the public consultation for its off lease infrastructure projects that also include the concentrate pipeline and the filter plant.
Sagittarius Mines earlier identified Malalag town in Davao del Sur province as the site of its power plant and port facilities.
“Maasim is now part of the option although we are not abandoning Malalag. What we are doing is assessing which is the best option,” he told MindaNews after the company’s launching of its interactive Community Information Resource Center here.
Maasim is also the site of the $450-million, 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant of the Alcantara-led Sarangani Energy Corp., which is now gearing for the construction phase.
The town hosts one of the country’s best scuba diving spots, and critics, including the local Catholic Church, have feared that a coal power plant would destroy the diverse marine ecosystem and will endanger human health.
MindaNews sources said that officials from Sagittarius Mines have been holding meetings in Maasim town in line with its planned infrastructure projects there.
Sagittarius Mines had disclosed that it needs some 500 MW to support its Tampakan copper-gold project. At least $900 million have been allotted for this dedicated power station.
The company plans to go on commercial stream in 2016 but the environment code of South Cotabato that bans open pit mining poses a hindrance to this target.
Sagittarius Mines’ application for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) had been trashed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as its ensuing appeal for reconsideration, on the basis of the open-pit ban.
The company has already appealed the DENR decision to the Office of the President.
Arnaldo said they have started the public scoping or consultation as part of the firm’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the firm’s off lease facilities.
Results of the EIA will form part of the document that will be submitted when the mining company applies for a separate ECC for its off lease infrastructure projects.
From the mining site in Tampakan, South Cotabato, Arnaldo said they will build an underground pipeline that would ferry the minerals towards Maasim for loading to the ships.
Alongside the pipeline, which will be one meter deep from the surface, will be the transmission lines of the power plant, he added.
This would span a length of 100 kilometers, Arnaldo said.
The Tampakan project is touted as the largest known undeveloped copper and gold reserve in Southeast Asia.
The estimated contained copper at Tampakan in total resources has risen from 13.9 million metric tons to 15 million MT while estimated contained gold has risen from 16.2 million ounces to 17.9 Moz, according to a company study. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)