MANILA, Philippines — The province of Surigao del Norte and other local government units welcome the development of the Silangan copper-gold project, according to Philex Mining Corp.

In a letter to Philex and Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. (SMMCI) president and CEO Eulalio Austin Jr., Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco Matugas said he is pleased that the long-delayed development of Silangan mine would soon commence to help generate jobs and spur economic activity in the province.

“This is another milestone in the minerals industry that is geared towards building a prosperous nation by way of responsible mining,” Matugas said.

SMMCI will begin development of the copper and gold mine in the second quarter and expects it to begin commercial operation in early 2025.

The company earlier said it would need an initial capital of $224 million to develop a starter mine for the Silangan project, which would be funded by proceeds from a stock rights offer, cash reserves and possibly some debt.

Throughout its 28-year mine life, Philex estimates that total investments will reach $1.7 billion, with $1.5 billion coming from funds to be generated by the Silangan mine.

Apart from Matugas, Surigao del Norte Second Congressional District Congressman 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 Typhoon Odette.

Philex was awarded by the government a Minerals Production and Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in 1999 for the Silangan mining claims that cover 2,880 hectares that straddle 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 towards progress and economic development while consistently demonstrating its responsible stewardship of environmental and social concerns,” Romarate said.

Noting the hardships brought by the pandemic and Typhoon Odette, Romarate said it is “very timely indeed for the project to finally take-off and start generating anticipated job opportunities and incremental economic activities.”

For her part, Placer Mayor Jovymarie Villazon recalled how Philex and SMMCI had displayed good practices towards 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,”Villazon said.

SMMCI chief operating officer Mike Toledo said the mining project would generate direct and indirect employment for around 8,000 people, raise about P86.7 billion in investments, and contribute an estimated P38 billion in government receipts throughout its 28-year mine life in Surigao del Norte, which is home to more than half a million Filipinos.

Aside from LGU approval and support, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has also extended the MPSA grantedto SMMCI to 2049.