• MGB sees metals output value up 40% in 3 yrs

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    The value of mined metals in the Philippines is expected to go up by 40 percent over the next three years with the big ticket projects approved late last year, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said over the weekend.

    Boosting the metallic minerals sector are the King-king copper-gold and Silangan projects, MGB Director Leo Jasareno told reporters in a press conference.

    In a press conference, MGB Director Leo Jasareno announced that He said the Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje has approved the King-king and Silangan mines to operate, he said. “These are world class projects that were added to our existing mines,” Jasareno noted.

    The King-king mine was given the green light to operate in the last week of December, while Silangan was approved in the third quarter of 2015.

    “With these new operating mines, we are expecting about a 40-percent increase in the total value of metallic minerals output within the next three years,” the MGB official said.

    The value of metals output declined by 20 percent to P85.78 billion last year, compared with P107.24 billion in 2014, as metals prices in the world market remained depressed.

    Gold was selling at $1,180.13 per troy ounce (oz.) on average in the first nine months of 2015, down 8.43 percent. Silver was at $16.03 per troy oz., down 19.64 percent.

    Nickel was down 26.64 percent to $5.70 per pound (lb.), and copper was down 17.89 percent to $2.57 per lb.

    Low metals prices were a result of a listless global economic growth and a slowing China economy.

    Mine shutdowns also helped depress the value of metals output , particularly at the Lutopan site of Carmen Copper Corporation in Toledo City, Cebu starting March 2015.

    However, Paje said the King-king and Silangan projects helped lift mining investment to $750 million last year.

    “Part of the project costs of King-King and Silangan were already recorded last year… That’s why mining investment increased last year,” Paje said.

    The $2.2-billion King-king is a joint venture of Nationwide Development Corporation and the Villar-led St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. in Compostela Valley Province. The $850-million Silangan in Surigao Province is owned by Philex Mining Corporation.

    King-king is expected to produce 3.16 billion pounds of copper and 5.43 million ounces of gold over its 25-year mine life.

    Once King-king starts operating, it is expected to create 5,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect employment during its construction phase. Another 1,700 workers are also coming in once it starts commercial production in 2017.

    Silangan is projected to produce 5 billion lbs. of copper and 9 million ozs. of gold in its 25-year mine life. It is supposed to start commercial production in 2018.

    Last October, Philex said it was evaluating several techniques on waste materials handling and refining its mine design to enable the company to develop the Silangan project into an efficient and environment-friendly operation.

    “These initiatives will extend the completion of the project’s definitive feasibility study to the first quarter of 2016 from our original projection this year,” the company said.

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