Gold in the Philippines

Gold in the Philippines The Philippines ranked 18th in the world for gold production as of 2011, according to Gold Facts. It produced 37.1 tonnes of gold that year. Its reserves are estimated to be around 3.77 million ounces, and the country accounts for 1.32 percent of the world's gold production.

Here's a look at some of the challenges of mining in the country, as well as which companies are currently doing so.

Conditions and challenges

Challenges to mining in the Philippines are largely political in nature. Very recently, the Asian Human Rights Commission states, an anti-mining activist was shot and killed in Compostela Valley, Mindanao. The victim had worked to demand compensation from Apex Mining (PSE: APX) for losses and damages sustained during the most recent typhoon as a result of the company's operations. That is not the first instance of its kind that has been recorded. Opposition to mining is fierce in some areas, and any producers that operate in the Philippines need to be aware of that reality and prepared to address local concerns.

Despite that opposition, the government of the Philippines is favorable to mining investment and activity. That may be part of why there are so many producers operating in the country. Here are a few:

Indophil Resources (ASX:IRN)

Indophil Resources, an Australia-based company, was founded in 1996 to acquire and develop gold and copper-gold opportunities in Southeast Asia. Indophil Resources' exploration portfolio in the Philippines is comprised of four projects in two different areas of the country. One area is Northern Luzon, and the other is Eastern Mindanao. The projects include licenses and tenement applications, and feature gold and copper-gold mineralization. The Balatoc operation, in Northern Luzon, was mined before in the 1980s as an underground block-caving operation. The Eastern Mindanao projects, Manat and Bunawan, are both still being explored and have never been operating mines before, though results of early exploration are promising.

Red Mountain Mining (ASX:RMX)

Red Mountain Mining is a gold explorer and project acquisition company based in Australia. The company seeks underdeveloped gold and polymetallic projects in Asia to exploit using Australian mining methods, according to its website. Recently, the company completed its acquisition of significant gold properties in the Philippines. These projects include the Batangas gold projects, Archangel, Lobo, El Paso, Calo and Talahib, as well as the Tapian San Francisco project and Canaga.

Apex Mining

Apex Mining is a gold mining company based in the Philippines. Its main project is the Maco mine in the island of Mindanao. The mine, formerly Masara, has been in production for more than 40 years. Apex itself has been a company for as long, though its management was transferred to a partnership between Crew Gold and Mapula Creek Gold in 2005. Mapula Creek Gold is also local to the Philippines. Apex aims to increase its production at all sites in the near future, according to its website. Should copper and zinc prices rise, the company will consider whether to recover the concentrates of these metals found at its mining projects.

United Paragon Mining (PSE:UPM)

United Paragon Mining is involved in the exploration, development, exploitation, recovery and sale of gold. The company arose as the result of a merger between United Asia, Geothermal Resources and Abcar Paragon Mining. Under the terms of the merger, Abcar Paragon Mining transferred all its assets and properties to United Asia and Geothermal Resources, which then changed its name. The main project United Paragon has is the Longos mine at Paracale, Camarines Norte. The mine was open pit until 1994, at which point production moved underground. Now not in production, the Longos mine will be the subject of rehabilitation and further development when United Paragon has the necessary capital for such a venture.

Benguet (PSE:BC)

Benguet is the first and oldest mining company in the Philippines, established in 1903. Its gold and nickel operations are extensive. They include the Acupan gold project, which began operation in 1927. Acupan consists of 223 mineral claims in Itogon, Benguet. Until 1992, it had produced 5.54 million ounces of gold. The project has a remaining resource potential of 113 million tonnes, averaging 2.41 grams per tonne. Some of this resource is contained in regular veins, and the rest in lower-grade breccias and quartz stockworks. Benguet also maintains the Balatoc tailings project, the country's first large-scale gold recovery project from mill tailings. The tailings project is managed by Balatoc Gold Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Benguet.

Philex Mining (PSE:PX)

Philex Mining was incorporated in the Philippines in 1955. It is involved in the metals business, while subsidiaries under Philex Petroleum are involved in the energy industry. The company owns several mines, including the gold producing projects Padcal and Silangan. Padcal Mining, in operation since 1958, is the first underground block cave operation in the far East. It produces copper concentrates that contain copper, gold and silver. These concentrates are sent to Japan for smelting. The Silangan mine, located in Surigao del Norte, lies on both the Boyongan and Bayugo deposits, which contain gold, copper and silver. This project, wholly owned by Philex since 2009, is still under exploration.

St. Augustine Gold & Copper (TSX:SAU)

St. Augustine is currently developing one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world, King-king. The project is a gold-rich copper porphyry located in the southeast of the Philippine island of Mindanao; it has a proven and probable mineral reserve that amounts to 617.9 million tonnes at 0.3-percent total copper and 0.395 grams per tonne gold. According to the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau, King-king is considered a top priority for development. The project has a pre-tax NPV of $2 billion at an 8-percent discount, an IRR of 24.8 percent and a 2.4-year payback period.

The company is currently in the feasibility stage of development (social, environmental and engineering phases) and is in the process of completing a bankable feasibility study on the project. Construction of King-king is expected to commence in 2015. Full production is expected in 2018.

Gold in the Philippines from Gold Investing News