The Padcal Mine has been in operation since 1958 and is the first underground block cave operation in the Far East. Since the mine started commercial operations, it has been producing copper concentrates, with gold and silver as by-products.
It is also home to almost 2,000 employees and 15,000 people in a community of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, from within the host and nearby towns, who rely largely on the mining operations as the engine of socio-economic activities. Padcal also houses the Sto. Nino Hospital and Sto. Nino Chapel as well as private educational institutions Philex Mines Elementary School and St. Louis High School-Philex.
Employees and their dependents living within the mine camp also enjoy free water and a host of other amenities not typically offered in most urban settings, most especially in remote town like Padcal. This includes free health and medical services, free elementary and heavily subsidized high school education, and access to livelihood opportunities.
Exploration activities in 2016 focused on three major projects around the vicinity of the current ore body – the Bumolo Project, which has been undergoing intensive drilling; Desert Storm, which is submitted for surface assessment and porphyry copper-gold targeting; and Tapsan, which undergoes surface mapping for gold in veins. All three projects are located within Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA)-156, although a significant area of possible resources in Tapsan occurs within MPSA-157.
The Bumolo project is a porphyry copper-gold deposit approximately 1.5 kms northeast of the Sto. Tomas II mine. Resource definition drilling was completed in August 2016. A total of 11,075 meters from 46 holes were drilled for the year raising the total meters drilled to 17,782 meters from March 2015 when it started. Mineral Resource Estimation at Indicated classification will be completed in 2017 that will be based on the geological interpretation as of December 2016.
Metallurgical testing of mineralized drill core samples and environmental rehabilitation of Bumolo were also completed by the end of December 2016.
The accessibility of the near-surface Bumolo ore to the existing mine and mill infrastructures makes it attractive to pursue mining feasibility study.
Desert Storm 156 (DS 156) Project
The project is a bold exploration and drilling program designed to discover a new porphyry copper deposits within the vicinity of Philex’s Sto. Tomas II deposit, specifically within MPSA 156 to extend the life of Padcal operation beyond 2022. The exploration is based on the observed clustering of porphyry copper deposits in the Baguio Mineral District and in other local and foreign analogues.
The Desert Storm Project consists of four prospects in MPSA 156, namely Southwest, North Midway, Oliva, and Tapsan , where potentials for buried porphyry copper-gold mineralizations are currently being investigated. Social access to the prospect areas was vigorously pursued in the last quarter of 2016 to initiate exploration. As of this writing, diamond drilling is actively on-going in three out of the four prospects: Southwest, North Midway and Oliva.
Tapsan Gold Prospect
Tapsan is a gold-silver vein prospect located 5kms south-southeast of the Sto. Tomas II ore body. Investigations of the prospect commenced in the second quarter of 2016. Geologic mapping of outcrops and pocket miners’ tunnel identified possible targets for drilling. A 2-kilometer long tramline system is being constructed to convey drill equipment over the rugged terrain in the area to enable scout drilling within this year.