QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya: A London-based mining company in the province is the first in the country to demonstrate a green technology in gold extraction and processing called BIOx or biological oxidation method.
Last month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) gave a go signal to FCF Minerals to commence commercial production of an estimated 1.3 million ounces (Moz) of gold within a mine life of 10 years.
Mario Ancheta, MGB Cagayan Valley 2 director, said his office has approved the commercial production of the company after it has complied with the mining standards set by the Philippine government.
Peter Storey, the operations manager of FCF’s Runruno Process Plant, said their method of extracting gold is a major step in transforming the negative stigma on mining.
“The process plant uses the proven BIOx method, a green technology which is the first in the country, to oxidize the ore and make the gold available for conventional recovery methods,” he said.
BIOx involves the use of a culture of naturally-occurring soil bacteria that promotes oxidation reactions in an aqueous environment and is a specialized feature of the Runruno Process Plant.
Coupled with this is the use of the ASTER process or the Activated Sludge Tailing Effluent Remediation that similarly uses different naturally occurring bacteria to detoxify or break down waste materials generated from the process to make it contamination-free, before it is pumped out to the residual storage impoundment (RSI) area for secure permanent storage.
“Uniquely, the process residue is treated through three discreet neutralization processes wholly within the process plant site before it is pumped out to the RSI for permanent secure storage,” Storey said.
He said the RSI is termed as such because of the distinct environmental control measures employed upstream of the facility, which render the residue stream chemically compliant before deposition.
“The RSI differs from a conventional tailings dam, in that the residual materials deposited in the facility are considered harmless to the environment and that monitoring of the water quality is undertaken on a regular basis by the company using external laboratories,” Storey said.
In addition, FCF retains a third party consultant to undertake independent sampling and verification of its environmental performance, while government and civil society representatives regularly verify the project’s performance to ensure water quality is within the Philippine standards and compliant with the project’s licensing conditions.
Owned 100 percent by the British Metals Exploration Plc, FCF operates the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project, one of the two large-scale mining projects in the province located 280 kilometers north of Manila.
FCF developed Runruno as a surface cut-and-fill mine with an adjacent processing plant to produce gold ore as the primary product.