Philex eyes mining, gas investments in Myanmar

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Philex Mining has sent representatives to Myanmar to check opportunities and assess the investment climate

GOLD DIGGER. Philex Mining Corp, led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, is the Philippines' largest producer of gold. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The country’ largest gold miner said Wednesday it is keen to invest in Myanmar as the former military-ruled state makes tentative political reforms and tries to lure investors with tax breaks.

Philex Mining Corp. has sent representatives to Myanmar in recent weeks to look at opportunities and assess the investment climate, company senior vice-president Michael Toledo told AFP.

“Myanmar is opening up and a lot of businesses are really looking at that country. We do not want to be left behind,” he said.

He said Philex was eyeing metallic minerals and even natural gas in Myanmar, but did not disclose which local companies they were dealing with.

“We are looking at the regulatory framework, the political landscape, how business is run there, who are the people to talk to. This is the regular due diligence that companies do,” Toledo said.

The company, which posted a record net income of P5.8 billion ($136 million) in 2011, is also eyeing investments in gold and copper in Indonesia, Toledo said.

He stressed the talks were exploratory and that no commitments had been made.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has embarked on a course of political reform, including the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

It has also installed a quasi civilian government, and allowed Suu Kyi to run in parliamentary elections in April.

As a reward and to encourage further opening up, the United States and Europe have began easing economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar for its rights abuses.

The Philippines has called for the sanctions to be lifted entirely.

Myanmar is rich in oil, gas, timber, minerals and gems, and investors are lining up to enter the country as it prepares to further liberalise, officials said.

In January, Myanmar said it planned to offer 8-year tax exemptions to foreign investors to encourage them to enter the country. – Agence France-Presse

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