THE province of Surigao del Norte welcomes the start of development of the $224-million Silangan copper-gold mine project of Philex Mining Corp., which is one of the biggest investments in Mindanao.

Philex’s wholly owned unit, Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. (SMMCI), will begin development of the copper and gold mine in the second quarter of 2022 and expects it to begin commercial operation in early 2025. Throughout its 28-year mine life, Philex estimates that total investments reaching $1.7 billion, with $1.5 billion coming from funds to be generated by Silangan mine.

Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco Matugas said he is pleased that the long-delayed development of the Silangan mine will soon commence to help generate jobs and spur economic activity in the province.

‘This is another milestone in the minerals industry that is geared toward building a prosperous nation by way of responsible mining,’ said Matugas in a letter to Eulalio Austin Jr., Philex and SMMCI president and chief executive officer.

‘Similarly, this is also a welcome development for our province and constituents who have been immensely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and, just recently, the Super Typhoon ‘Odette,” he added.

Surigao del Norte Second District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the forthcoming development of Silangan should generate the employment, local expenditures and taxes needed to fuel economic recovery from the pandemic and the damage caused by Odette.

Tubod Mayor Richelle Romarate also welcomed the coming development of Silangan mine and called Philex an ‘able partner’ in economic activities of the town.

Philex was awarded by the government a Minerals Production and Sharing Agreement in 1999 for the Silangan mining claims that cover 2,880 hectares and straddles the towns of Placer, Tagana-an, Tubod and Sison — all in Surigao del Norte.

‘Since its exploration stage, the Silangan project has always been an able partner of our town and my administration toward progress and economic development while consistently demonstrating its responsible stewardship of environmental and social concerns,’ Romarate said.

Meanwhile, Placer Mayor Jovymarie Villazon recalled how Philex and its unit SMMCI had displayed good practices toward the community and the environment. ‘With that, we look forward to the realization of their plans and programs with the same sense of professionalism during the development and operating stages,’ he said.

Tagana-an Mayor Cesar Diaz Jr. said the imminent development of Silangan is most welcome coming in the wake of the pandemic and Odette. ‘With this development comes new employment opportunities for the residents and helps the local economy to generate additional income through the generated taxes from this project,’ he said.

The Silangan mining project will generate direct and indirect employment for around 8,000 people, raise about P86.7 billion in investments and contribute an estimated P38.0 billion in government receipts throughout its 28-year mine life in Surigao del Norte, which is home to more than half a million Filipinos.