SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 28, 2007) – Australian Embassy Minister and Deputy Head of Mission Stephen Scott visited the facilities of the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) in South Cotabato’s Tampakan town.
SMI presented Scott its social and environmental management programs and projects. SMI is the main proponent of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project.
Scott, who was welcomed by acting Mayor Pedro Cagas and acting Vice-Mayor Relly Leysa, toured the Maticura Field Trial Station where SMI personnel maintain a nursery of indigenous plant and tree species and a butterfly and insect farm.
Scott was also presented an update on the project at the SMI base camp in the village of Tablu. He was briefed on the project’s current technical and environmental activities and community engagement programs, said a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner on Wednesday.
He also inspected a drill rig and the SMI Competence Center where he was briefed on the community education and capability-building programs of the company.
While in Tampakan, Scott, accompanied by Mark Williams, SMI general manager, met with government officials and businessmen. Scott commended the socio-economic development initiatives of SMI at the pre-operating stage of the project.
“This is a good experience knowing the growing support of major stakeholders of the Tampakan project, which has a very significant potential to develop the community, the region and the country as a whole,” he said.
Williams, for his part, reiterated SMI’s commitment to invest in the sustainable development of the project’s in the area.
He said community projects being delivered by SMI to the host communities include education assistance to students at all levels, health care assistance to community members, and capability-building programs for residents.
SMI has also embarked on environmental protection initiatives, such as environmental baseline studies and reforestation and biodiversity programs, Williams said.
“We want to undertake every aspect of the project the right way, consistent with world’s best practices. Looking after the long-term welfare of our host communities and protecting the environment are fundamental to the way we do business,” he said, adding, “support to these community activities will be increasing as the project moves forward.”
Williams also reiterated SMI’s policy of giving preference to qualified local residents and companies in hiring project personnel and in sourcing supplies for operations. “No less than 90 percent of our work force is from the local communities,” he said.