But this positive development was not met as positively by residents in three villages in Tampakan who reportedly barricaded the route leading to the base camp of Sagittarius Mines, Inc.
Tony Robbins, Indophil Resources NL managing director, said the pre-feasibility study work program confirms that the Tampakan project is a world class, two billion ton deposit, containing 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold at a 0.3% copper cut-off grade.
“It (pre-feasibility study) also indicates potential to increase the mineral resource within the project area,” he added.
Results of the study have been delivered to Xstrata Queensland Limited or Xstrata Copper, which has an option to acquire or not 62.5% interest in the project.
Undertaken at a cost of approximately A$27 million, the pre-feasibility study work program indicates that the Tampakan project is robust and is potentially one of the world’s best new large-scale copper-gold mines, Robbins said.
The study is based on a mining rate of 30 metric tons per annum, producing an average of 210,000 tons of copper and 218,000 ounces of gold per year in its first 10 years of operation.
Despite this development, the firm seems to be facing a fresh opposition to the project from landowners.
Fr. Romeo Catedral, director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, said they heard that landowners would like to demand a payment of P3 million per hectare from the firm so they would not oppose the project.
“Diocesan workers are on their way (Monday) to validate the barricade by the landowners. The local Catholic Church has not organized such action although we have organized about 60 to 80 landowners (in line with our anti-mining advocacy),” the priest said.
Rolando Doria, Sagittarius project coordinator, confirmed the road blockades instigated by what he described as non-Lumad land claimants in the area.
In the village of Danlag, the barricades were removed after an hour due to negotiations between the residents and company representatives, he said.
In the villages of Pulabato an Tabu, he added the barricade remains but residents manning the blockades allow food and water to pass through.
"But they are banning vehicles known to be owned by Sagittarius from passing," he said.
In line with the option agreement, the report on the pre-feasibility work program has been delivered to Xstrata Copper for review.
Pursuant to the terms of the option, Xstrata Copper is required to elect on October 31 either to exercise its option; terminate its option; or solely fund any further work necessary to enable it to determine whether to exercise or terminate its option, plus all other ongoing project expenditures.
This determination must be made by Xstrata Copper as soon as possible and in any event no later than 31 December 2007.
When Xstrata Copper’s position on this option election is advised, Indophil will be in a position to report key project parameters and the likely next stage of the Tampakan project’s development, Robbins said.
Robbins noted that the Tampakan project, which straddles the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, has a high potential to be developed on a competitive basis.
He added that the timing of the move into a full feasibility study would be subject to further consultation and discussion between Indophil, Xstrata Copper and Alsons Corporation, the Filipino participant in the project.
The Tampakan Project is held through a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement in the name of Indophil’s Philippine-based associate company, Sagittarius Mines Inc.
Indophil has a 95% beneficial interest in the project through its holding in Sagittarius. Filipino company Alsons Corporation owns 5% of the project.
Robbins said that in the meantime, Indophil is continuing work in a number of areas to complete assessments that will be required as part of the definitive feasibility study, including metallurgical studies and resource definition, geo-technical and infrastructure site drilling.
“We know that the deposit itself is world class, by any measure. We are also confident that the project can be delivered in a way that incorporates sound environmental and social management,” he said.
Company officials claim the Tampakan project enjoys a high level of government and “community” support and involvement.
Robbins said that “with this continued support,” the project can deliver significant benefits to all stakeholders and in particular, the community.” (MindaNews)