With the funding and development of its estimated $244 million Silangan gold mine underway, Philex Mining Corporation is now planning to venture into nickel mining while eyeing the possible acquisition of two gold prospects: the old Dizon copper silver mine and the Macawiwili property beside its Padcal mine.

In an interview at the sidelines of the 2023 Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibition, Philex President and CEO Eulalio B. Austin Jr. said they have already raised the $244 million funding – roughly P13.9 billion – needed for the development of the Silangan mine which is expected to produce its first ton of ore in the first quarter of 2025.

“While we are doing the Silangan project, we are looking into some business opportunities also. You have heard about the Macawiwili project which is beside the Padcal mine,” he said.

He noted that the exploratory drillings they are doing in Macawiwili “is in preparation for the eventual closure of the Padcal mine if we can no longer find resources to mine.”

Austin said Philex is “a contractor of Macawiwili to do scout drilling of their property. After we have the results of drilling, that’s the time we sit down and discuss (possible investment or acquisition).

He said the prospect of Macawiwili is attractive for Philex since they can use the existing infrastructure and equipment of the Padcal mine where resources are already being depleted.

“We are also looking into the nickel space considering that the transition to this green energy is a global issue right now and we also want to develop a nickel property we have in Zambales,” Austin said.

He added that the Zambales nickel mine “was not put into operations for so long and we are trying to review that now that we have raised the amount for the Silangan project.”

“Aside from nickel, we are also looking at the former Dizon mine, this is now the Lumiere property in Zambales that they are offering to us… the Dizon mine is a copper-gold mine in San Marcelino, Zambales which I think, during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, it stopped operations,” said Austin.

Philex has started confirmatory drilling to see if there are remaining resources or reserves to mine before deciding whether to acquire it or not.

For its nickel mine, Austin said Philex may get a partner that has expertise in the extraction of nickel ore since “it’s our first time in nickel, we’re a neophyte. For sure we will be asking some guidance or having a partner to develop that property since we are not experts.” – JAMES A. LOYOLA