A rehabilitated tailings pond, in Bulawan, Negros Occidental, is now a sanctuary for wild ducks | RENZI JUAREZ (May 2012)


The Bulawan project, in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, is a gold operation that was mothballed in 2002, and has since been kept under care and maintenance. The mine was decommissioned because of low metal prices prevailing at the time. But with gold prices becoming significantly higher since then, Philex Mining Corp. started looking into the possibility of reopening the mine for operation, and is currently undertaking a drilling program to establish if its current resource--23.9 million tons containing 1.91 grams of gold per ton--could be increased before committing further funds for the project.

In preparation for the upcoming prefeasibility study of Bulawan mine, a scout drilling campaign was conducted in the vicinity of Bulawan. The main purpose of this drilling is to test the last remaining exploration plays, in the hope of augmenting the remnant resources. A total of 4,944 meters were drilled in 17 holes. The drillings focused on testing deep root systems in the North Block, the Central Block, and in between the South Block and Korokan. Shallow drillings were also conducted to test remote extensions of the North Block as recognized from new induced polarization surveys, and from rapid computer modeling of Bulawan deposit using the Leapfrog software.

Bulog Project

Further studies and drillings in the Bulog Project for both Parcels 1 and 2 were put on hold for the whole 2011. Poor security conditions were very pronounced in 2011 in both parcels while accessibility issues continued to hound the proposed drilling areas in Parcel 2. Small-scale mining issues also cropped up in Parcel 2. Philex Mining's Community Relations Department rose to seek resolutions to these issues, so that exploration work may be continued on the second half of 2012.

Cayas Project
The reconnaissance geologic mapping and stream sediment sampling work in Cayas identified two major areas with high potential for porphyry copper mineralization. Both were delineated on the basis of strong gold, copper, and molybdenum anomalies with favorable lithologies and alteration suites. To follow up on these anomalies, detailed grid mapping were undertaken simultaneously with soil geochemical sampling. The geologic mapping confirmed an episodic intrusion event contrary to previous works done in the mid 1990s. An analysis of the rock samples also showed that the rock alteration observed in Cayas is typical of mid-level alteration mineral assemblages, indicating that the core of the mineralization zone is to be expected at depth. The same areas will be subjected to in-house electrical and magnetic surveys prior to scout drilling by the last quarter of 2012.

Vista Alegre Project
The whole Vista Alegre exploration permit area was subjected to high density stream sediment survey, in order to detect hidden dacite breccias bodies within the andesite host rocks. Several gold and zinc anomalies in Skid 8 were highlighted with this method, and these were subjected to induced polarization (IP) and resistivity surveys. Prior to this, the Nagtalay gold deposit and the Laburan and Skid 9 deposits were subjected to the same tests, in ordrer to obtain the geophysical signatures of these known gold areas. More than eight line kilometres of IP and resistivity surveys were laid out and tested from Nagtalay to Skid 8. The results of geochemistry and geophysics will be verified through scout drilling in early 2012 upon completion of the Bulawan geotechnical studies. Simultaneous with this is the planned discovery drilling of Laburan and Skid 9 to augment the Nagtalay gold resource.