CA: Copper mining in South Cotabato is permissible despite local ban
KORONADAL CITY – When the Court of Appeal (CA) decided that a provincial anti-mining ordinance cannot stop the extraction of copper in the ancestral domain of the Blaan tribe in Tampakan, South Cotabato, Blaan leaders receive the ruling as good news.
Domingo Collado, Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to the Tampakan municipal council, on Wednesday showed reporters a copy of the resolution from the Court of Appeals, dated August 22, 2022, stating that the South Cotabato Provincial Environmental Code that bans mining in the province cannot be applied on firms permitted by the national government, particularly the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI).
The Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) or R.A. 8371 has mandated the representation of indigenous people in their respective local legislative bodies by selecting among themselves their IPMR.
“We are happy with this stand of the Court of Appeals on the issue,” Collado said.
The CA ruling recognized the validity of the provincial ordinance banning open-pit mining in any town in the province but emphasized that it cannot be applied to large-scale mining operations.
“It is clarified that the ban on open-pit mining does not apply to large-scale mining operations of the said province, particularly the Tampakan Project,” the CA said in its ruling, copies of which were received by The Sun Monitor last Tuesday.
It was the Blaan tribal councils in South Cotabato and prominent members of local business communities that sought the position of the CA about the extent of the applicability of the provincial ordinance prohibiting open-pit mining in the province.
European experts and mining engineers in the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) placed the value of the copper deposits in Tampakan at no less than US$ 200 billion.
The Sun Monitor
John Unson / Tony Manaytay