Europe-PH News

Concerns Raised Over ECC Rejection

January 17, 2012

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

Europe-PH News

The environment department's decision to deny a permit for the Tampakan copper-gold project could end up discouraging mining investments, representatives of two foreign business chambers yesterday claimed.

"We are most concerned with the decision.  If it stands, it will certainly give a serious detrimental impact on the Philippines as a destination for direct investment, not just in mining but across the board," said lan Porter, vice-president of the Australia and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Several mining firms, Mr. Porter said in a phone interview, have already expressed concerns about the rejection of Sagittarius Mines, Inc.'s (SMI) application for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

"[We] have already had representations from mining companies about the decision.  I can't divulge who they are," he claimed.

Henry J. Schumacher, vice-president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said his organization was also concerned as the government's move had undermined the mining industry.

"It shakes investor confidence," he said in text message.

Mr. Schumacher said the Joint Foreign Chambers was preparing to issue a statement.  He declined, however to provide details as the document was still being circulated for approval.

SMI, the firm pursuing the $5.9-billion Tampakan project -- described as one of the largest undeveloped sites in Southeast Asia, last Friday announced the rejection of its ECC application and said it planned to appeal.

The Environment department said it was returning the ECC application since the issue of a South Cotabato open pit mining ban had yet to be resolved.

SMI's owners, Indophil Resources NL and Xstrata Copper, are based in Australia.

The foreign chambers' officials said investors would want to see the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 -- which does not prohibit open pit mining -- take precedence.

"We want to see a level playing field, certainty in the application of regular and established procedures.  That is what the mining community wants and what all foreign investors hope for," Mr. Porter said.

Mr. Schumacher, for his part, called for the government to detail a clear direction.

"[We] need long term national strategy that is not undermined by local governments.  We are talking about responsible mining," he said.


Source: Business World; Front Page; 17 January 2012

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