Sagittarius Mines, a unit of global mining major Xstrata, has received an environmental permit for its $5.9bn Tampakan mine in the Philippines.
The company estimates a production of 375,000t of copper and 360,000oz of gold from the mine over a period of 17 years.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the copper-gold project located in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
However, the Environment Secretary Ramon Paje stated that the recommendation for approval was subject to certain conditions.
"SMI should make public the feasibility of the project, ensure that the area does not cover those where mining is prohibited, and ensure social acceptability through consultation with stakeholders," Paje said in a statement.
The approval removes one of the obstacles that have been delaying work on the large undeveloped copper-gold deposit.
To begin development of the project, the company is still required to submit all other government permits and clearances.
In December 2012, Sagittarius Mines president Peter Forrestal said that construction at the mine could begin in 2015, allowing for commercial production in 2019.
The Philippine Chamber of Mines supported the environmental approval saying that the country needs at least $3bn in investments for employment generation.
Under the conditions included in the ECC, Sagittarius Mines is required to maintain strict compliance with environmental considerations, submit an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP) and also submit a Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) to the regional Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Image: The Tampakan copper gold mine is 62.5%-owned by Xstrata, while Indophil has a 37.5% share. Photo: Sagittarius Mines, Inc.