SAGITTARIUS MINES, Inc. (SMI) said it had obtained a business permit for its copper-gold project from the municipal government of Tampakan after a legal victory.

“SMI has and will always comply with the law and will continue to do the right thing in all of its activities,” said SMI’s Legal and Compliance Manager Stella Joy Segocio in a media release on Wednesday.

SMI said the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) granted a preliminary injunction in factor of the company after the “incorrect assessment” by the local government for alleged deficient taxes worth P400 million.

The mining company said it was issued a business permit after paying P24,579 in regulatory and other fees.

Meanwhile, SMI said the provincial board of South Cotabato declared the numerous provisions of Tampakan’s Revised Municipal Revenue Code of 2022 as ultra vires or acts beyond its power.

This includes imposing new or increased business taxes on companies operating in Tampakan.

In an e-mail response, Ms. Segocio said the company is on track for its target operations by 2026.

“The refusal of the [local government unit] to grant us a business permit did not affect the activities of SMI. We were able to get a (temporary restraining order) from the first level court and then a preliminary injunction from the CTA so for now, we are still looking at 2026 as our target date,” she said.

Under the terms of a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement, Sagittarius Mines’ project covers 25,371 hectares. The project was halted in 2010 after the provincial government’s ban on open-pit mining.

The Tampakan project in South Cotabato province is said to be among the largest untapped minefields in Southeast Asia. The site is estimated to contain 15 million tons of copper and 17.6 million tons of gold.

SMI said it has provided social investment projects such as high school and college scholarships, the establishment of health centers and health programs, the provision of water sources, emergency response, and livelihood assistance worth more than P24 million to its host communities. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera