Philex hopeful on lifting ban on open pit mining
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp. is scouting for potential investors for its $2 billion Silangan copper and gold project as it is optimistic that the government will lift the ban on open pit mining this quarter.

“We are hoping that the ban will be lifted in the  first quarter. Secretary (Roy Cimatu) said they would be studying it,” Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. chief operating officer Mike Toledo said in a recent interview with The STAR.

The lifting of the open pit ban is expected to fasttrack the entry of possible investors for Philex’s next big prospective mine in Surigao del Norte.

“Once it is lifted, we will immediately proceed with our pre-development works, “ said Toledo, who also sits as senior vice president at Philex Public and Regulatory Affairs.

“Investors are looking at legal and regulatory framework and I could sense that they are more inclined to invest but they are just waiting for the right announcement. Once that it is lifted, we can actually proceed,” he said.

“We are now talking to banks and others. There are already interested people who are just waiting for the government to lift the ban on open pit mining,” Toledo added.

The Silangan project, which may start production by late next year or early-2020, will conduct open pit mining for the first 10 years followed by the underground method.

“This is safer, environmentally and financially sound. While we are doing underground, we can already do rehabilitation (in the open pit). This is what we presented  to the MICC (Mining Industry Coordinating Council) and they saw why open pit is the most viable option,” Toledo said.

The Silangan project is seen to replace the Padcal copper-gold mine in Benguet, whose mine life is expected to end by December 2022.

The company has invested over P13 billion for the initial exploration and related works on the site as of the end of 2014, on top of the estimated project cost of about $1.2 billion.

By 2020, the Silangan project is forecast to generate P170 billion in revenues, P31 billion in national and local taxes and at least 8,000 employment opportunities for the first 10 years of operation.

Silangan is also expected to spend P6 billion over the same period for social development and infrastructure programs that will benefit Mindanao.

It is among the biggest prospective open-pit mines in the country.

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