Mining town seeks copy of mining license

Acting Vice Mayor Relly Leysa said the municipal government was seeking a copy of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agremeent (FTAA), the mining license granted to large-scale mining explorations and operations.

He said the local government only sought “to know the specific benefits that will be enjoyed by the locality”.

The original holder of the rights for the Tampakan project was Western Mining Corp, an Australian company. In 2001, then Environment secretary Heherson Alvarez approved the transfer of rights to Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI) after Western Mining decided to give up the project.

Sagittarius resumed the project in 2003.

An FTAA certificate gives a holder exclusive rights to conduct mineral exploration in a contract area.

Aside from the taxes and fees, the SMI has provided annual development assistance worth P1 million each to the three local government units, P1.5 million to each of the five host tribal communities and P1 million each to the five host barangays.

However, Leysa said that “after over a decade of mining exploration activities here, the local government unit has still no copy of the FTAA forged by the national government and the project proponents”.

"Based on the records of the Sangguniang Bayan, requests for a copy of the FTAA gained ground in 1995. But up to now, we still have no copy of the agreement," Leysa told a Thursday forum here dubbed "Talakayan 07: Mining and Mineral Industry in the Philippines."

Constancio Paye, Jr., regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, promised that his office would provide the local government unit a copy of the agreement.

Two foreign firms, Xstrata Copper and Indophil Resources NL, have acquired major shareholders rights into the SMI.

The SMI has continued the exploration of the Tampakan area, estimated to have one of the richest deposits of copper, with a prefeasibility study conducted in September last year showing mineral deposits of about two million tons, containing 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 ounces of gold at a 0.3% copper cut-off grade. 

The mining exploration was being opposed by the local Catholic Church expressing fear of an  environmental catastrophe. The mining area straddles the towns of Tampakan, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.