The province of Surigao del Norte and other local government units welcomed the start of development of the Silangan copper-gold mine project of Philex Mining Corp., which at a cost of $224 million (about P11.2 billion), is one of the biggest investments in Mindanao.

Philex’s wholly-owned unit Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. will begin the development of the copper and gold mine in the second quarter of 2022 and expects it to begin commercial operation by early 2025. Throughout its 28-year mine life, Philex estimates that total investments would reach $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 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,” said Matugas in a letter to Philex and SMMCI president and chief executive Eulalio Austin Jr.

“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 said.

Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the forthcoming development of Silangan should generate employment, local expenditures and taxes needed to fuel economic recovery from the pandemic and the damage caused by Typhoon 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 government a minerals production and sharing agreement in 1999 for the Silangan mining claims that cover 2,880 hectares straddling the towns of Placer, Tagana-an, Tubod and Sison 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.”

Placer Mayor Jovymarie Villazon recalled how Philex and unit Silangan Mindanao Mining 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.

Tagana-an Mayor Cesar Diaz Jr. said the imminent development of Silangan is most welcome coming in the wake of the pandemic and Typhoon 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.

SMMCI chief operating officer Mike Toledo said that among others, 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 P38.0 billion in government receipts throughout its 28-year mine life in Surigao del Norte, which is home to more than half a million Filipinos.

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

The Silangan Project also secured tax holidays from the Board of Investments.