THE country’s biggest gold producer Philex Mining Corp. on Friday said it has pushed back mining operations in one of its prospective mineral reserves in Padcal mine in Benguet.
In a telephone interview, Philex President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio Austin Jr. said the start of mining at the 800-600 meter levels (ML) of Padcal has been moved to 2018 instead of 2017 as earlier scheduled.
Austin, however, clarified that there was no delay in their mining operations, saying that the decision was aimed at lessening capital expenditures for 2016 while they await the final exploration results for the Bumolo Project.
“There’s no delay. We just want to maximize our operations, which is being undertaken in three different levels,” the executive said.
Philex is currently mining at 908 ML with 61.2 million metric tons (MT) of ore at .22 percent copper grade and 0.349 gram of gold per ton; at 798 ML with 46.2 million MT of ore at 0.20 percent copper and 0.357 gram of gold per ton; and at 782 ML with 40 million MT of ore at 0.22 percent copper and 0.368 grams of gold per ton.
The 908 ML should have been mined out at the end of 2015. However, the broken reserves of some collapsed draw points at the level, which were not included in the
October 2015 disclosure, will now be mined at 890 ML, providing a remaining reserve of 0.7 million tons, Philex said.
The mineral reserves at 800-600 ML are seen extending Padcal’s mine life by two more years from 2020 to 2022, while the Bumolo project is currently under study.
Philex earlier announced “encouraging” results from its ongoing drilling at the Bumolo porphyry copper-gold project in Benguet, which could potentially further extend mining operations at the adjacent Padcal mine beyond 2022.
Philex said that the maiden inferred resource was estimated at 21.7 million MT at 0.2 percent copper, and 0.3 grams of gold per MT at 0.274 percent copper equivalent cut-off grade.
The Bumolo deposit lies within the MPSA 156-2000-CAR of Philex. MPSA refers to mineral production sharing agreement and CAR refers to the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Located in Baguio’s mineral district, the Bumolo deposit is only 1.5 kms to the east of the Sto. Tomas II deposit of the Padcal Mine, which has been in active operation for the past 58 years and has produced over 378 million tons of ore to date, primarily using the underground block caving method.
The maiden inferred mineral resource represents the first phase of the ongoing resource definition-drilling program to advance the project and provide additional ore to Padcal Mine.
Meanwhile, Philex said that copper price is seen to reach $2.73-$2.80 per pound in 2017 to 2022 as forecast by the World Bank and the UK-based Economic Intelligence Unit-The Economist Group.
On the other hand, the price of gold is forecast to reach $1275-$1290 per ounce in 2017 to 2019 as noted by Deutsche Bank and Economic Intelligence Unit-The Economist Group.