Study for Tampakan project’s power plant underway

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 March) – The detailed design and engineering studies for the proposed $806-million coal-fired power plant that would supply the needs of the controversial Tampakan copper-gold project of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) has commenced, an industry executive said on Monday.

Oscar Benedict Contreras III, Alsons Power Business Unit manager for communications and stakeholder relations, revealed that Alsons Energy Development Corp. (AEDC) is already undertaking the preliminary development work for the prospective 400-megawatt (MW) power plant.

“They have conducted public scoping and will be holding a public consultation within the year,” he told MindaNews.

Contreras said that AEDC and SMI have reached an agreement for the construction of a new power plant dedicated solely for the planned mining operation of the latter.

Under the agreement, it shall be SMI that will secure the necessary community, government and shareholders approvals for the Tampakan power project, he said.

The Alsons Group, through Sarangani Energy Corp., is currently constructing a 210 MW coal-fired power plant that will serve the needs of consumers in this city, Sarangani province and neighboring areas.

The project is located in a world-class diving spot and is staunchly opposed by the local Catholic Church and environment group Greenpeace on concerns over human health and the environment.

The Alsons Group has a stake at the Tampakan copper-gold project through Australian firm Indophil Resources NL, where the Filipino conglomerate holds a 19.99 percent stake.

Indophil owns 37.5 percent of the 40 percent controlling equity at SMI, whose majority equity holder is Xstrata Copper (62.5 percent), the world’s fourth largest copper producer.

Indophil’s share in the Tampakan project is its flagship asset under its portfolio.

The Tampakan project was given a conditional environmental compliance certificate last month by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) despite the open-pit mining ban imposed by the South Cotabato provincial government.

Among the conditions cited in the ECC were the settlement of the question on social acceptability, protection of the rights of indigenous people, land access under the Department of Agrarian Reform and the willingness to assume continuing liability over any environmental damage.

Last year, the DENR thrashed the ECC application of SMI, as well as its ensuing appeal, on the basis of the provincial open-pit mining ban.

In an undated announcement at the website of Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc. the publicly-listed company of the Alcantara Group, Contreras said that SMI’s power plant project will be undertaken by A/S Power Development, Inc., a fully-owned subsidiary of ACR.

“The power station complex will have an area of around 35.4 hectares within the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Economic Zone administered by the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone Development Corp. (KAIEDC),” he said.

KAIEDC, another corporation of the Alcantara Group, aims to attract locators from various industries and sectors. This will galvanize the local and regional economy, provide jobs, and significantly boost livelihood opportunities in Sarangani Province, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and the rest of South Central Mindanao, the statement said.

Prospective locators include key players engaged in steel fabrication, ship repair, and other light-industrial and manufacturing concerns, he said.

Contreras said that construction of the power plant for SMI’s Tampakan project may commence in the second half of 2014. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)