Philippine town revokes permit for Tampakan copper-gold project

Camp at Tampakan copper-gold project on Mindanao Island, southern Philippines. ( Image: Sagittarius Mines.)

A local government in the Philippines has cancelled Sagittarius Mines’ permit for the Tampakan copper-gold project in the country’s South Cotabato province, citing concerns about the survival of hundreds of indigenous peoples that live nearby.

Tampakan, considered the Southeast Asian country’s biggest untapped copper-gold reserve, was stalled for over a decade following a 2010 ban on mining, which was extended to open-pit operations in 2017.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte, who ended his six-year term in June, lifted the nationwide ban late last year to revitalise the mining industry.

The move paved the way for Sagittarius Mines to reopen the $5.9 billion project, in which commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) used to have a controlling stake, but abandoned it amid regulatory uncertainties.

Mayor Leonard Escobillo of Tampakan told local press the permit had been revoked due the company’s “fraud, erroneous classification and misrepresentation of its business status.”

“There’s nothing personal in this case. We are just doing our job,” Escobillo told reporters.
The asset, which has estimated resources of 15 million tonnes of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold, was one of at least 12 metallic mines expected to begin commercial operations this year.

Most of the mines awaiting permits are nickel projects, one of the metals in highest demand these days due to its use electric vehicles batteries and other devices that can help the world transition to cleaner technologies.

Tampakan was expected to have an average annual production capacity of 375,000 tonnes of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold in concentrate.