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MINING

Philippine protests delay Xstrata mine project

Swiss mining giant Xstrata is delaying the commercial production of its $5.9-billion gold and copper mine in the Philippines to 2019 due to problems with security and the government, the company says.

Philippine protests delay Xstrata mine project
Photo: Xstrata

Sagittarius Mines Inc, Xstrata's local unit, which is developing the Tampakan copper-gold project in the southern Philippines, on Wednesday cited "challenges" that arose since it originally scheduled operation to begin in 2016.

The obstacles include the local government's 2010 ban on open pit mining and the national government's failure to issue an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) that would overturn the ban, the company said in a statement.

A company also referred to "security issues" with the project site, an apparent reference to armed groups that have attacked workers and contractors of the mine.

"If local government endorsement and final approvals from the national government are forthcoming . . . construction could potentially commence in 2015, enabling commercial production in 2019," the statement said.

Sagittarius has described the Tampakan project as one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits.

The project would be the Philippines' largest ever foreign investment but it has been opposed by leftist anti-mining activists, tribal groups and even church leaders.

The Philippines is believed to have some of the biggest mineral reserves in the world —  the government estimates the country has at least $840 billion in
gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore deposits.
 
 However, the minerals have been largely untapped, partly because of a strong anti-mining movement led by the influential Catholic Church, while poor infrastructure and security concerns have also kept investors away.

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GLENCORE

At least 19 illegal miners killed at subsidiary of Swiss-based Glencore

At least 19 illegal miners were killed on Thursday after part of a copper mine collapsed in southeastern DR Congo, Swiss-based mining giant Glencore said.

At least 19 illegal miners killed at subsidiary of Swiss-based Glencore
Photo: AFP

The incident happened when two galleries caved in at a mine in the Kolwezi area operated by Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), a subsidiary of Glencore.

“Tragically there were 19 fatalities today, with possible further unconfirmed fatalities,” Glencore said in a statement, which said there had been recurrent problems with illicit mining on its concessions.

Other reports suggest the death toll could be higher. 

The Congolese site Actualite.CD reported at least 36 deaths.

“The illegal artisanal miners were working two galleries in benches overlooking the extraction area. Two of these galleries caved in,” the company said.

Glencore said KCC had observed a “growing presence” of illegal miners, with on average 2,000 people a day intruding on its operating sites.

“KCC urges all illegal miners to cease from putting their lives at risk by trespassing on a major industrial site,” Glencore said.

Illegal mining is common and frequently deadly in Democratic Republic of Congo, where safety is often poor and risk-taking high.

Figures indicating the scale of the problem are sketchy, given that many mines are illegal and remote.

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