Robredo's death stalls efforts to solve Tampakan mining woes
MANILA, Philippines - The recent death of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo will have an impact on the ongoing efforts to address issues that involve Tampakan mining, the project poised to receive US$5.9 billion, one of the biggest investments in the country.
In a briefing on Thursday, August 30, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said Robredo was working with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. in finding a solution to the conflicting rules of the national and local governments regarding open pit mining, the mode of extraction of contractors at Tampakan mine.
"Secretary Jesse Robredo was involved in helping find a resolution to that and his untimely death may necessitate a little bit more time because you need to put someone in place," Carandang said.
"We're hoping to find a solution to that in due course. That is being studied by the MICC (mining industry coordinating council)," added Carandang, referring to the body tasked to draft the rules and regulations of a recently issued mining policy of the Aquino government.
Robredo died in a plane crash off Masbate on August 18.
Ban on open pit mining
Sagittarius Mining Inc (SMI) and Swiss global miner Xstrata Plc suffered a setback with its Tampakan mining investments following its local government host's passage of the South Cotabato Provincial Environment Code, which bans open-pit mining.
The mine site sits atop the mountainous village of Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
In turn, the national government, through the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), cited the local ordinance in rejecting the SMI-Xstrata's bid for an environmental clearance certificate (ECC), a government requirement before it can proceed with its mining operations.
SMI was hoping Executive Order No. 79 signed by President Benigno Aquino last July would have reconciled national mining policies with conflicting local ordinances.
The EO-79, however, imposed a status quo on pending issues. SMI has a pending appeal before Malacanang for the provision of the ECC.
The MICC is set to submit the latest draft of the rules and regulations in September.
Recently, SMI and Xstrata admitted they have pushed forward their target for commercial operations to 2018 following the delays on its application for an environmental permit and changes in the location of its infrastructure facilities.
SMI earlier announced it would start commercial operations in one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in 2016. - Rappler.com
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