General Santos City Councilor Jose Edmar Yumang during Tuesday's (May 24, 2022) regular session. The City Council passes a resolution opposing the Tampkan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (Photo courtesy of Councilor Jose Edmar Yumang)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Citing potential adverse environmental impact, the City Council passed a resolution Tuesday opposing the Tampakan copper-gold project.

In a unanimous vote, the City Council described the open-pit mining method as “historically disastrous” and poses "more risks, especially to the environment, than generating supposed economic benefits."

“While the mining industry is vital to the economy, the economic benefits of open-pit mining cannot outweigh its long-term degrading impact on the environment. When the gains and risks are placed on a scale, the State must always err on the side of caution,” the resolution said.

The City Council passed the resolution following the lifting last week by the South Cotabato Provincial Board of the province’s 12-year ban on open-pit mining, as provided in Section 22 of its Environment Code.

Although primarily located in the South Cotabato town of Tampakan, the controversial copper-gold project straddles four provinces—South Cotabato, Sarangani, Davao del Sur, and Sultan Kudarat. It is touted as the largest in Southeast Asia and among the biggest of its kind in the world.

City Councilor Jose Edmar Yumang, the resolution's author, said the history of mining in the Philippines showed that open pits are “perpetual liabilities” and have cause heavy adverse environmental impacts.

Yumang said cited the case of Boac River in Marinduque, which was destroyed by a catastrophic mine waste disaster over 20 years ago.

“The Sangguniang Panlungsod of General Santos City strongly calls for sustainable and responsible mining where the Philippines may generate wealth without degrading the environment and without compromising the health and safety of its people, thus preserving the environment for the benefit of the next generation,” the City Council resolution said.

Tampakan copper-gold project proponents have said the open-pit mining remains the most viable method in extracting the area’s mineral resources.

Project advocates have also noted that open-pit is a widely-accepted mining method all over the world, and that latest technological advancements have made it safer and friendlier to the environment.

In March, the City Council invited resource persons from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region and anti-mining advocacy groups to shed light on the planned open-pit mining operation of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan.

Yumang said the City Council also invited SMI four times to clarify issues and concerns about the project, but the company did not send representatives. (PNA)