Xstrata unit wins environmental approval for $5.9 billion Philippine mine
By Erik dela Cruz
MANILA (Reuters) - Global miner Xstrata Plc's $5.9 billion Tampakan mine in the Philippines has been granted an environmental compliance certificate by the government, the company said on Tuesday, removing one of the hurdles delaying work on Southeast Asia's biggest copper-gold prospect.
The Tampakan project, the Philippines' single largest foreign direct investment and seen as a bellwether for overseas investors, has been held up by a 2010 ban on open-pit mining imposed by the provincial government of South Cotabato because of its harmful effects on the environment.
Governor Arthur Pingoy told Reuters there were no plans to revoke the ban, but the central government's environmental compliance certificate, or ECC, puts Xstrata a step closer to actual construction of the project if the ban is at all lifted.
The company, however, still needs at least three more local permits before construction work can begin.
"We received an official notification that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has signed the ECC for our Tampakan mine project," Sagittarius Mines Inc, the local unit of Xstrata, said in a statement.
The Tampakan mine, predicted to have a 17-year lifespan, is expected to contain 15 million metric tons (16.5 million tons) of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold. Australian miner Indophil Resources N.L. has a 37.5 percent interest in the project.
The ban by the South Cotabato government on open-pit mining runs counter to the national mining law, which does not restrict exploration methods. Continued...