51 mining applications trashed in SW Mindanao; 18 others endorsed for OK

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/19 October) — Fifty-one mining applications have been rejected in Southwestern Mindanao in line with the government’s “use it or lose it” policy to revive the mining industry, officials said. But 18 other applications were endorsed for approval,  Constancio Paye, Jr., Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional director, said.

Paye said a total of 69 mining applications were reviewed across the region comprising the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and the cities of  Koronadal, General Santos, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We denied their applications (the 51) for failure to submit the necessary requirements, mainly the FPIC (Free and Prior Informed Consent) from the tribal communities despite repeated reminders,” Paye said

An FPIC is required to ensure indigenous peoples give their consent for companies to operate in their ancestral lands.

Paye noted the disqualified mining companies are mostly based in Metro Manila and without any foreign support.

Based on the regional MGB records, these companies have applications ranging from 637 to 16,535 hectares in the different parts of the region.

Hernani Abdon, regional MGB licensing and records division chief, said the purged mining companies have pending applications since 2008 and earlier.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier directed the field offices to conduct a crackdown to cleanse non-moving mining applications as part of the government’s reforms in the mining sector.

MGB records earlier showed that there were at least 2,180 pending mining applications filed in various MGB regional offices.

Region 12 hosts the largest known undeveloped copper gold resources in Southeast Asia, a project pursued by Sagittarius Mines, Inc, which is controlled by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer.

Discovered in 1992, the Tampakan copper-gold deposit is a 2.4 billion ton mineral resource when measured at a 0.3% copper cut-off grade. It is estimated to contain 13.9 million tons of copper and 16.2 million ounces of gold, with potential for growth.

However, an open pit mining ban imposed by the provincial government of South Cotabato was seen as a barrier to the Tampakan project.

Investments for the commercial development of the Tampakan project was earlier pegged at $5.9 billion, including the provision of $900 million for a power station.

It is potentially the largest single foreign direct investment in the Philippines should the company proceed to commercial phase. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)