Tampakan likely to yield more copper-gold deposits

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/01 November)—The Tampakan copper-gold project that straddles the provinces of South Cotabato and Davao del Sur likely contains more deposits than initially projected, according to a the Mine Project Feasibility Study by foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. recently made available to media.

Previously estimated at of 340,000 tons and 350,000 ounces of copper and gold, respectively, the annual average production rate of the Tampakan project could go as high as 370,000 tons of copper and 350,000 tons of gold, the study submitted in April to the government
said.

The initial life mine estimate for the Tampakan project was pegged at 17 years.

Given the discovery of higher resources construction works for the copper-gold project are slated to kick off in 2012, the company study showed.

Sagittarius Mines also revised the development cost for the Tampakan project to $5.9 billion from $5.5 billion, including the provision of
$900 million for a dedicated power station.

Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer, controls Sagittarius Mines through a 62.5% interest, with the rest held by Australian firm Indophil Resources NL.

Richard Laufmann, Indophil Resources chief executive officer, said the Tampakan deposit, discovered in 1992, now ranks as the fifth known undeveloped copper-gold deposit in the world.

Indophil has put its stake in the Tampakan project for sale, which lately drew the interest of Philippine diversifying conglomerate San
Miguel Corp.

Citing the MPFS, Laufmann said the Tampakan project is set to start construction works by 2012 and the first commercial production by
2016.

“The Tampakan project is expected to employ 10,000 people during the construction phase and 2,000 when [commercial] operations begin,” he
noted.

A controversial environment code in South Cotabato that bans open-pit mining, the method eyed by Sagittarius Mines to extract the Tampakan
deposits, is considered a regulatory risk for the mining project.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Y. Pingoy said the environment code took effect last October 18.

“The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) is being crafted by a technical working group that produced the environment code,” he added.

Indophil said the environment code requires the IRR to be completed before the end of the year, expressing hopes that a review requested
by sectors supportive of the mining venture be considered by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Studies have found that open pit mining is the most economic method of minerals extraction at Tampakan, Indophil said.

Moves for any review of the environment code were staunchly opposed by the local Catholic Church headed by Diocese of Marbel Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez.

Vice Gov. Elmo B. Tolosa, presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said the varying positions generated by the environment
code have been referred to the appropriate committees for action. (MindaNews)

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