Southeast Asia’s largest known unexploited copper and gold deposit lies in a remote mountain area just east of Tampakan, about 60km north of General Santos, the Philippines’ southernmost city.
London-listed Xstrata, the fourth-largest copper producer in the world, through its local affiliate Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI), hopes Tampakan will produce an average of 340,000 metric tons of copper and 350,000 ounces of gold every year for 20 years from an open pit 3km long, 2.5km wide and eventually 800m deep.
But to get to that point Xstrata must first deal with a complex mosaic of local politics, tribal and village interests, landowners and farmers, opposition from the Church, NGOs, as well as a violent local culture where gunslinging is commonplace.
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