DENR: Review of Tampakan open-pit mine on 'final stage'
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is already in the final stage of reviewing the proposed Tampakan open-pit mining project in South Cotabato.
"Based on the review, DENR will be asking Tampakan to show cause why [its environmental compliance certificate] should not be revoked," Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno said in a press conference on Thursday, August 11.
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez cited the $5.9-billion mining project of Sagittarius Mines Incorporated on Thursday, as she proposed to change her department's processes when it comes to the issuance of ECCs.
"From my point of view, that project should not have been given an ECC," Lopez said. (READ: Gina Lopez: I really don't like Tampakan open-pit mine at all)
She explained that the DENR did not want to issue an ECC to the mining company to begin with.
"The issue was brought up to the Office of the President, and then they mandated the ECC. That's that administration, and now I'm DENR secretary, I'm reviewing why they ever gave it at all," she said, referring to the Aquino administration.
"Since I'm DENR secretary, it is my conscience. How can I even let that happen?" added Lopez, who has repeatedly and openly expressed her dislike for the Tampakan project. (READ: DENR's Lopez: 'I won't allow people to suffer')
The proposed open-pit mine has not yet started its operations despite securing an ECC on February 19, 2013.
When it was issued the certificate, the mining company was required to secure permit from the local government to legally mine.
In a project brief, the DENR said that to date, the mining company has not yet complied with the following conditions:
- Proponent has not submitted proof of compliance to permits and clearances duly required by other government agencies
- Proponent has not yet resolved pending issues with Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
- Proponent has not yet secured favorable endorsement from the local government of Sultan Kudarat
Other unresolved issues include the liability to maintain post-mining facilities perpetually, and the impact on downstream agricultural land.
Jasareno explained that in Tampakan, the DAR has actually issued certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) to 3,000 families.
"Unless this is resolved, the position of the DENR is that the ECC should not have been issued," he added.
Lopez reiterated: "The land has been given to 3,000 farmers by the Department of Agrarian Reform. That place should never be the place for open pit because the lives of 3,000 farmers are much more important than any copper."
She also lamented the fact that the country will not get any profit from Tampakan "unless there's a windfall profit."
"We're [going to] jeopardize the food basket of Mindanao for what? It's grossly unfair. Windfall profit is a dream that might not even happen," Lopez added. (READ: Gina Lopez: Philippine Mining Act an 'unfair' law)
The review of the proposed project will be done by the 3rd week of August, Jasareno said. The department will decide by then whether or not to cancel Tampakan's ECC.
Jasareno said if DENR cancels the ECC, there are other reliefs available to the company – it can file a motion for reconsideration, go to the President, or go to court.