By MARVYN N. BENANING
Manila, Philippines –The merger of commodities trader Glencore with Xstrata, which manages the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, would create an integrated operation by one of the world’s biggest mining companies.
In an interview, a top executive of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) said the merger, worth between $80 billion and $90 billion, means “business as usual,” noting that it is “actually a good match.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity since he is not authorized to dwell on the matter, the SMI ofﬁcial said “the merger actually pushed Xstrata to the No. 3 position in copper mining.“
This being the case, he stressed “Xstrata would act with more vigor in securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).“
SMI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Forrestal expressed dismay over the failure of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje to issue an ECC for the Tampakan project because issues on open pit mining that have yet to be resolved by SMI and the South Cotabato provincial government.
The crux of the matter is the opposition of the South Cotabato provincial board, which maintains the Environment Code of the province bans open pit mining, which the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 allows.
A Canadian mining company, TVI, also fought a legal battle in Zamboanga del Norte over its open pit operations and won a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against a ban imposed by local government units (LGUs).
Paje wants SMI to test the ban by going the same route to obtain a TRO from the courts but Forrestal said the company would rather seek a reversal of DENR’s decision to deny the issuance of the ECC at the moment.