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Davao del Sur tapped for Tampakan infra support

September 27, 2010 01:47:00
Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) has picked Davao del Sur to host the supporting infrastructure for the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project.

“After thorough studies over the past year, a detailed analysis has identified Malalag in Davao del Sur as the preferred site for the PPFP (Port, Power Station and Filter Plant Project) development,” SMI general manager Mark Williams said in a statement.

Specialist environmental and social impact studies, as well as stakeholder engagement activities for the PPFP ESIA, are expected to be completed by the middle of 2011.

The power plant, to be built beside a port for concentrate handling, will have a capacity of 400 megawatts. The plant should be built before the project goes into production.

On June 3, SMI president Peter Forrestal said the PPFP “would be about 10 to 20 percent” of the project cost of Tampakan. SMI’s $74-million feasibility study on the Tampakan project, which was submitted to the government last April, estimated that the project would cost $5.9 billion, according to well-placed sources.

At the time, SMI was still weighing its options on two locations for the PPFP: Malalag in Davao del Sur and Bawing in General Santos City.

Depending on the completion of a positive final feasibility study for the Tampakan mine project and all necessary community, government and company approvals, SMI estimates production to start by 2016.

With the operation of the Tampakan project, copper production in the Philippines is expected to increase fivefold.

Swiss-led Xstrata Copper has a controlling 62.5-percent interest in Tampakan, which is considered the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Southeast Asia.

At a project cost of about $5.9 billion, it would also be the single largest foreign direct investment in the Philippines.

The Philippines is targeting to draw more than $13 billion in investments into the capital-intensive and politically charged mining sector by 2013.

As of early May 2010, mining investments hit $2.89 billion since 2004—the year when the Supreme Court allowed complete foreign ownership of large-scale mining projects.

The Mines Chamber of the Philippines said the industry remains hopeful that 2010 will be better for mining investments.

Investments in the mining industry have been slow, with $375 million in 2009, or almost half the downscaled $650-million target for the year, according to documents from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Mining investments in 2008 reached $577.25 million—less than the 2007 level of $679.65 million.

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