A bishop in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao has called on the government to maintain a ban on open-pit mining. In a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez of Marbel said large-scale mining activities aggravate threats to the environment. The government plans to lift an open-pit mining ban
which will allow the development of some large-scale mining projects including a US$5.9 billion Tampakan copper and gold mine in the southern Philippine province of South Cotabato. "Lifting the ban on open-pit mining will not serve the common good and is also immoral in the wake of global water and food shortages and natural disasters," said the prelate. Marbel Diocese has been vocal in its opposition to the Tampakan mining project. The mine site has been touted as the largest known undeveloped copper and gold reserve in Southeast Asia. It has the potential to produce 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold annually for the next 17 years. The open-pit mining project is potentially the largest single foreign direct investment in the Philippines if allowed to operate. Bishop Gutierrez said thousands of hectares of forested and agricultural lands and the biodiversity in the area will be destroyed if the mines will be allowed to operate. "The cost will far outweigh the benefits to the government and the Filipino people," he said. Mining firm Sagittarius Mines Inc. has repeatedly allayed fears of critics, saying the company will employ "responsible mining" to minimize damage to the environment.