Secretary Regina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regina Lopez stood firmon Wednesday that she won't allow gold and copper mining operation in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
"I will not allow the Tampakan project as long as it is planned as an open-pit mine," said Lopez in a press conference.
The DENR chief said she would stand against any move to lift South Cotabato’s ban on open pit mining, which is Tampakan’s preferred extraction method, describing it as "horrible".
"Tampakan is on top of hundreds of hectares of agricultural land, the food basket of Mindanao, and you want to put a 700-hectare open-pit mine? I don’t care how much money they give us. It’s not worth it. Who is making the money here and who is taking the risk?" she lamented.
Lopez, however, said all permits given to the project will be reviewed "but we will observe due process."
Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI) has a pending proposal to spend USD 5.9 billion to dig into one of Southeast Asia’s largest untapped resources with an estimated yield of 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.
The project, which would also encompass Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, has been opposed by residents because of its massive impact on their water source Lake Buluan.
Lopez, in an earlier dialogue with the Lumad or indigenous peoples of Mindanao, assured that mining operations in the region found in violation of mining and environmental laws and regulations would be suspended.
The Lumad also appealed to Lopez to halt illegal logging and encroachment in watershed areas, and stop militarization in their areas which they claimed was related to the plan of large-scale mining companies to setup new businesses.
Lopez has been an anti-mining advocate. However, she emphasized on Tuesday that she is not against mining and has nothing against the mining industry. What she is against is the suffering felt by the people in these mining communities.
Sources : PNA
Image credit : Gina Lopez / Kami.com.ph ; Slides/ no2miningph