Tampakan copper-gold mine may begin operations in 2026

August 4, 2023 - 6:40 PM
Satellite image shows Tampakan town in South Cotabato (Screengrab from Google Maps)
  • Mine development cost now seen at $1.1 billion
  • Tampakan has among world’s biggest copper deposits
  • Mine operator open to foreign investors

MANILA — The Philippines’ biggest mining project, the Tampakan copper-gold site in Mindanao, may begin commercial operations in the last quarter of 2026 at the earliest, project developer Sagittarius Mines Inc. said on Friday.

Regulatory concerns over the Tampakan project, which had been hampered by a 12-year provincial ban on open-pit mining that was lifted last year, have been “reduced to almost zero”, Sagittarius president and CEO Roy Deveraturda said in a speech at an industry forum.

“The most optimistic estimate is last quarter of 2026, but you know sometimes we experience delays because of supply chain issues,” he told Reuters after his speech.

Tampakan will have a life of more than 40 years, with development costs for what is believed to be one of the world’s largest copper deposits now seen at $1.1 billion. The costs may be financed by a combination of debt and equity, he said.

The project in the southern province of South Cotabato covers an area of about 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) and is estimated to contain 15 million tons of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold.

Sagittarius, fully owned by Filipino company Indophil Resources Phils. Inc., is open to new investors, including foreigners, Deveraturda said.

The lifting of the Southeast Asian country’s ban on open-pit mining and the moratorium on new mineral agreements has ushered in a new era for a sector hit by years of restrictive domestic policies that scared off foreign investors.

Bringing in foreign partners was “very important (because) if you have an international collaboration, you are telling the whole world that the Philippines is open or a good place for investment”, Deveraturda said.

Mining has been a contentious issue in the Philippines after past cases of environmental mismanagement fuelled a strong lobby against the industry and prompted the government to impose restrictions.

— Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor