SMI relocation plan still in the works

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/19 March) – Foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. has yet to firm up its relocation plan to those that will be dislodged by its Tampakan copper-gold project, a project partner admitted on Monday.

“The current work program at Tampakan continues to focus… on reaching agreement with the community and [national and local] governments on a range of social impacts, including the need to undertake a substantial resettlement program,” the 2011 annual directors’ report of Indophil Resources NL showed.

Indophil owns a 37.5% stake at Sagittarius Mines, which is controlled by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer.

The Tampakan project has suffered a setback after the Philippine government rejected last January Sagittarius Mines’ application for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), without prejudice to reapplication.

It cited as reason the unresolved open-pit mining ban imposed by South Cotabato, where the Tampakan project is located.

Sagittarius Mines had filed a motion for reconsideration of the national government’s decision last January 27.

As of Monday, there was still no decision on the petition and that the open-pit mining ban remains in place, Indophil said.

The Tampakan project is feared to dislocate an estimated 2,600 families, mostly belonging to the B’laan in the mines development site, which would span some 4,000 hectares.

In an undated statement from the local government unit of Tupi in South Cotabato, it said that Sagittarius Mines is eyeing the village of Miasong as relocation site.

Miasong is Tupi’s farthest barangay known for its cool climate and vegetable production.

The statement said the multi-national mining company is eyeing Miasong for its resettlement and housing project

Sagittarius Mines has commenced the study of the suitability of Barangay Miasong for its housing project. They are now into data gathering and validation activities, it said.

Bella Lechonsito, superintendent and engagement and partnership stakeholder of Sagittarius Mines, had requested Julgen Dajay, the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator, to furnish Tupi’s data.

Sagittarius Mines reportedly commissioned Parsons Brinckerhoof to conduct a feasibility study for the resettlement program. Parsons Brinckerhoff is a global consulting firm assisting public and private clients to plan, develop, design, construct, operate and maintain critical infrastructure, its website said.

Parsons Brinckerhoff needs ample data to prepare a due diligence of the identified host community, the Tupi LGU’s statement said.

The data requested includes an updated municipal profile; baseline information (population, population growth rate, population forecast by age/gender, student population by grade/year level, morbidity and mortality rate); existing community infrastructure facilities; social and cultural activities or practices of the community; peace and order situation; and transportation means to the Tupi poblacion, it said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)