Stakeholders likely to accept copper-gold mining sub-project
by Carina L. Cayon
Malalag, Davao del Sur (3 December) -- Various stakeholders in two towns of this province conveyed possibility of accepting an infrastructure component for a proposed big copper-gold mining project, despite early apprehensions due to the environmental impacts the project could bring into their areas.
More than 600 local government officials and residents of Kiblawan and Malalag towns aired out issues and concerns pertaining to the proposed construction of an off-lease linear infrastructure or OLLI project by the Sagittarius Mines, Inc., which would affect 15 barangays in said towns.
The stakeholder-participants including some tribal leaders who represented the towns and the affected barangays, raised concerns mostly on the environmental impacts, landownership and safety of the residents during the two-day separate public consultations held last week at the respective towns.
SMI officials addressed all issues and concerns assuring that "social and environmental impacts of the project are managed in order to enhance positive effects and mitigate unavoidable negative impacts."
SMI conducted the public consultations or public scoping in Kiblawan and Malalag, to present the conceptual plan of the Tampakan Copper-Gold project and the technical studies of the OLLI project, as well as to gather views, perceptions and concerns from the stakeholders.
The OLLI project is an integral component of the proposed Tampakan Copper-Gold project which will have its operation site in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
SMI Corporate Affairs Manager Roy Antonio explained that the Tampakan OLLI project would consist of a power transmission system and a concentrate pipeline system that transports the copper-gold concentrate from the mining site in Tampakan passing through Malungon in Sarangani province, Kiblawan, and a part of Sulop, also in Davao del Sur.
The end-tail of the system would be at Malalag where the power station, filter plant and port would be constructed.
Councilor Edmundito Rama of Kiblawan stated in the vernacular that "mining is dangerous if not well managed." He, however, considered the infrastructure project as a big opportunity of investments for the municipality.
Rama deemed it necessary that stakeholders in Kiblawan "should have knowledge on mining so as to be well informed about its pros and cons to have a better understanding and acceptability of the project."
Brgy. Captain Hernandez Suay of Bagong Negros in Kiblawan, said most of his constituents would likely accept the project following an assurance from SMI that nothing would be damaged in their farm produce and other livelihood activities.
Suay added that folks in the barangay have long desired of economic and social developments.
For councilors Elmie Ruelan and Celestino Ruelan, Jr., respectively of barangays Bonifacio and Bunot where 20-30 percent of residents comprise of the B'Laan tribe, expressed that their constituents still need additional explanation and information to understand well the infrastructure project of SMI.
B'Laan tribal leader Fernandez Masday of Kiblawan was positive of the project saying, "as long as it brings goodness to our tribe."
Masday told the Philippine Information Agency that his tribe has already benefited from a scholarship program from SMI even if the project has not yet started. He said seven B'Laan children are now taking 4-year courses in college courtesy of the scholarship.
For B'Laan chieftain Ernie Diangsa, the project might be welcome for his tribe, saying "all our worries have been addressed by the company." He added that SMI promised to grant them a scholarship program "for our children."
In Malalag, provincial Councilor Romy Madrio was thankful for the public consultation because it addressed the apprehensions of the affected stakeholders, adding that he saw the sincerity of the firm to handle well the project in his town.
Madrio assured his "positive attitude towards a future partnership with SMI," though he admitted that he was reluctant at first because he feared of the pollution that the project would cause.
He said he was only convinced that the project is environmental-friendly when he was able to visit SMI's mining project in Luzon.
According to Madrio, there is a big percentage that the town would accept the project considering the economic benefits it offers, adding that not only the town would gain from it, but also the whole province of Davao del Sur.
SMI's corporate community sustainability manager Bing Ganchero disclosed the socio-economic benefits of the OLLI project, citing particularly the 100-job generation for the local folks during construction of the transmission line system, while 200-300 jobs for the construction of the pipelines system for a period of 25 months.
She said business opportunities are also open for local suppliers of goods and services needed to support the construction works. (PIA-XI) [top]