Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mining business is the next big thing in RP

ebu, Philippines (12 June) -- Based on greater investors' interest and confidence in the mining industry and if production of minerals continue to grow at its current pace, the Philippines can become a "mining country" by 2010.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Angelo Reyes sees a very bright and robust prospect for the mining industry this year as he projected the investments in the sector to reach $348-million. "With the continuing increase in production value, we are optimistic on achieving a projected 8.6-percent mining exports share to total exports by 2010," Reyes said.

Secretary Reyes revealed that the expansion of the Palawan HPP Project of Coral Bay Nickel Corp. would bring in $154-million while the rehabilitation of Carmen copper project of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. in Toledo City would also bring in $97million and the Masbate Gold Project of Filminera Resources Inc. is expected to bring in $36-million.

The DENR secretary further said that other $23-million and $21-million investments are expected from the Canatuan Gold project of TVI Resources Development in Zamboanga de Norte and from the Didippio copper-gold project in Nueva Vizcaya respectively.

With the vigorous development of the mining sector in 2004, investments generated reached a total of $694-million and these are expected to rise between 2007 and 2010 as DENR noted an increasing production from existing mines and because of the influx of investments into the mining sector, its contribution to exports went up to 4.5% in 2006.

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) the mining sector's contribution to exports is expected to hit only 2.8% in 2008 and 2.9% in 2009 but at the pace the sector is going, DENR officials are confident that mining industry exports contribution would increase to 8.6% by 2010 when all the 24 priority minerals development projects start production.

The growth of the mining sector has generated more than 6,500 new jobs since 2004 with an additional 3,000 jobs projected for this year and 30,000 more jobs are expected until 2010. Taxes, fees and royalties from mining totaled P3.1 billion and employment from the industry already rose to 141,000.

Atlas Mining gets new loans for its rehabilitation

The Carmen Copper Corp., a subsidiary of the Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. (ACMDC) base in Toledo City has secured a $5.4-million from the Manchester Securities Corp. for its rehabilitation and purchase of more equipment for its Toledo City Mines operations.

In press statement from the ACMDC, it said that the fresh loan is on top of the $10.2-million worth of equipment that Carmen ordered earlier from Komatsu and "this combined equipment inventory will already be sufficient to begin its open pit operations."

According to a report to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) last April, Atlas will also secure another $100-million loan facility from Deutsche Bank to jumpstart the Toledo operation that was closed in 1994 due to the drop of world copper prices and labor strikes.

The report further stated that the re-opening of the Toledo Copper mine is estimated to produce about 42,000 tons of copper per day. It can be recalled that ACMDC operated three large open pits and three underground block-caving lifts at the Toledo Copper mine from 1955 to 1994 and it has a total production of approximately 667 million tons of ore that produced concentrates containing 2.56 million tons of copper; 1.96 million ounces of gold and 7.2 million ounces of silver.

The re-opening of the Atlas Mining is expected to pour in social and economic benefits to Toledo City. In 2006, ACMDC turned-over to the Toledo City local government unit a check worth P1M representing the balance of the cash component of the company's real estate taxes and another P1M shares of stocks that is worth P8-million at present market value.

These represented the compromise agreement reached between ACMDC and Toledo City LGU that reduced the company's tax payables from P280-million to P100-million. Of the P100-million, P10-million was in cash while the rest are in shares of stocks and some of Atlas' properties. According to Toledo City Mayor Arlene Zambo, the company will also start paying the retirement benefits of its legitimate employees.

The mayor said, the Toledo City government welcomes the re-opening of the copper mine as it is expected to boost the city's economy. (PIA-Cebu/mbcn)

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