Philex Mining suspends Silangan mine project

Chrisee Dela Paz
Philex Mining suspends Silangan mine project
This comes after Environment Secretary Gina Lopez banned the open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Philex Mining Corporation, the country’s biggest gold producer, will have to suspend its $1.2-billion Silangan project in Surigao del Norte, in light of an order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to ban prospective open-pit mining.

“She (DENR Secretary Gina Lopez) issued an order banning all open pits. So, in the meantime, we hold it first. We have to follow the government,” Philex chairman Manuel Pangilinan said on the sidelines of the ASEAN Prosperity For All Summit in Pasay City.

Tagged as Philex’s next key revenue generator once its Padcal mine closes in 2022, the Silangan mine has estimated reserves of 5 billion pounds of copper and 9 million ounces of gold in its 25-year mine life. (READ: DENR bans ‘prospective’ open-pit mines)

On top of the estimated commercial operations cost of approximately $1.2 billion, Pangilinan said his company has invested about P17 billion ($338.31 million) for the Silangan project’s exploration and related activities.

“There has been some initial development work. Remember, it was initially underground mining so there was work there and there was also some work in respect to open-pit but nothing significant,” Pangilinan explained.

But last Thursday, April 27, Lopez announced she is banning the open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores in the Philippines.

Lopez had said that open-pit mining, which is allowed under the Philippine Mining Act, is “too much of a risk” and “a financial liability for the government.”

In reaction, the Philex chief said his group has to put on hold its Silangan mine project. “If we are given all the relevant approvals, then we can proceed. But for now that’s put on hold.”

It was in May 2016 when the DENR, through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, issued its final approval of the amended mining project feasibility study for a surface mining method, in connection with the $1.2-billion project of Silangan Mindanao Mining Company.

Philex Mining had told the local bourse that its net income grew 2.8% to P432.27 million in the first quarter of 2017, from the P420.45 million registered in the same period last year.

This was attributed to higher metal prices, partly offset by lower metal output, according to Philex Mining. – Rappler.com

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