Mining firm exec shot dead

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 Sept) – An unidentified gunman shot dead the Malalag port superintendent of mining firm Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) outside his home in Davao City at around 6 a.m. Friday,  reports said.

PO3 Harold De Lima and Bryan Tejano, investigators of the Talomo police station are investigating the killing of Cris Bual, 53, Offsite Land Acquisition Superintendent of SMI. Bual was former regional manager of the Peace and Equity Foundation.

Authorities have not released information about the motive of the killing.

John Arnaldo, SMI corporate communications manager, said Bual was offsite superintendent for almost three years.

SMI sources said the firm is planning to build port facilities in Malalag town where copper and gold ores will be shipped out from its mines sites in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

The Tampakan project is being opposed by environment groups and at least three Catholic dioceses whose areas are covered by the company’s mining operations.

The communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) is also opposing the project.

Police and military sources said the NPA’s Front 71 guerilla command is active in the area where SMI will build its port facilities and power plant.

SMI is conducting public consultation as a requisite towards obtaining the necessary permits for its mining operations.

The company said it hopes to start commercial operations in 2016.

In October 2009, Xstrata Copper announced an upgraded mineral resource for the Tampakan project – up from 2.2 billion tonnes (Bt) to 2.4Bt.

On New Year’s Day in 2008, some 40 fully armed guerillas raided and burned down the main base camp of SMI in Tablu, Tampakan.

SMI would later abandon the camp and transfer it to Kiblawan in Davao del Sur for security reasons.

The NPA has warned the company it will target officials who are directly involved in the project.

In March 2009, anti-mining activist Boy Billanes was shot dead by unidentified armed men in what activists said was related to his anti-mining stand. (MindaNews)