PHILEX Mining Corp., the country’s biggest gold producer, is crafting a five-year work plan to maximize revenue flow for the remaining mine life of its Padcal copper-gold project in Benguet.
In an interview, Philex President and Chief Executive Eulalio Austin Jr. said that they are now reviewing their timelines since the August 2012 tailings spill, which rendered their previous long-term plan for Padcal no longer applicable.
“We are trying to review the current status and recover from the incident,” Austin said.
Austin explained that when a mine nears the end of its life or when resources are depleted, the quality of mineral grades extracted gets lower. With that, he said its price also goes down, which would affect revenues.
“As much as possible Philex wants to stabilize its revenues first, improve the operational efficiency of how things are done at Padcal and maximize its current tenements,” he said.
Under the new operational plan, Austin said that Padcal needs to increase tonnage to 27,000 tons of ore per day to produce enough gold and copper concentrates.
He said Philex is currently exploring other areas within its 14,000-hectare mining tenement at Padcal. The exploration is ongoing in three different sites adjacent to the Padcal mine.
“If we look at the tenement, we have a total of 14,000 hectares. We are just mining five percent of the total tenement,” he said.
According to Austin, they hope to find more copper and gold deposits in the three sites being explored. The drilling results are expected next year.
To recall, the company suspended operations in August 2012, following an accidental discharge of some 20.6 million tons of tailings to the Balog and Agno Rivers.
The incident occurred after two weeks of unprecedented rains brought about by typhoons “Ferdie” and “Gener,” which hit Benguet successively.
In August 2014, Philex resumed normal operations after clearing all regulatory requirements, including the payment of P1.034 billion to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as penalty for violating the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Philex also settled with the Pollution Adjudication Board its penalty of P188.6 million arising from the tailing spill incident.