GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A South Cotabato environment official has denied the circulating reports that a company out to mine copper and gold in Tampakan town in that province has begun its open-pit mining operations.
“Not true at all,” said Engr. Siegfred Flaviano, head of the South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), in an interview Friday.
Flaviano said the speculations among residents indicating that Sagittarius Mines, Inc.(SMI) has already started its Tampakan copper-gold project was “fake news.”
Per regulatory monitoring, Flaviano said the company’s current activities so far include getting water samples and monitoring the state of the area.
Despite this, the official said their office continues to monitor SMI’s activity through their activated multipartite monitoring team (MMT).
Both PEMO and MMT are also keeping a close watch on illegal small-scale miners in that area, he said.
Flaviano noted that the open-pit mining ban imposed by the South Cotabato provincial government still stands.
Pro-mining supporters, however, argued the ban only covers small-scale mining and not large-scale miners such as SMI, whose license to operate is granted by the national government.
The Tampakan project is described as the largest undeveloped copper-gold minefield in Southeast Asia and among the biggest of its kind in the world.
In December 2021, the national government lifted a nationwide ban on open-pit mining. (PNA)