SMI secures NCIP green light for Tampakan mine

Published November 3, 2020, 1:31 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) has secured the green light from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to extract minerals in ancestral domain areas covered by the Tampakan gold and copper mine project.

During an Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) summit, Bae Dalena Samling, chieftain of the Danlag Tribal Council, showed the Certification Precondition (CP) given by NCIP to SMI, allowing the company to extract the untapped copper and gold found in ancestral lands of the B’laan people.

CP refers to the certification issued by the NCIP that the site covered and affected by any application for concession, license or lease, or production-sharing agreement does not overlap with any ancestral domain area of any indigenous cultural community or indigenous peoples.

That, or if the site is found to be within an ancestral domain area, that the required Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was already properly obtained.

FPIC, on the other hand, is the consensus of all members of the IP communities in a particular project within their ancestral lands.

This is issued in accordance with IP’s respective customary laws and practices that is supposedly free from any external manipulation, interference, and coercion and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the project in a language and process understandable to the community.

Samling lauded the NCIP issuance, saying that it took 10 years for SMI and the B`laan tribal community to negotiate the terms for the Tampakan mine project.

Under their deal, the IP group allowed SMI to pursue the project in condition that it will recognize and treat the B`laan people with utmost respect, and that it will employ responsible and sustainable mining practices within their ancestral lands.

The Tampakan project – which lies at the intersection of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and Davao del Sur – is now the largest stalled mining venture in the country.

It has been put on hold since 2010 after the local government unit (LGU) of South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in the province.

The said ban is now one of the remaining obstacles for the project. In August, Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of the Municipality of Tampakan also decided to terminate its municipal principal agreement (MPA) with SMI.
If developed, the Tampakan project “has the potential to make a significant contribution to the economic prosperity of the Philippines and enable a better future for the people of southern Mindanao,” SMI said on its website.