Philex Mining Corporation, one of the oldest and largest gold and copper producers in Southeast Asia, reported a 73 percent fall in core net income to P105 million in the first quarter of 2024 from the P388 million earned in the same period last year due to lower output.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the firm said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) also dropped to P295 million from the P635 million registered in the first quarter of 2023 despite higher metal prices.

Average gold prices in the first quarter of 2024 were higher at $2,061 per ounce compared with the $1,889 per ounce in the same period last year.

Copper for the first quarter was at $4.00 per pound, equal to the price in 2023. Operating costs were slightly higher at P1.64 billion.

Tonnage milled for the first quarter of 2024 was at 1.59 million tons, lower than the 1.71 million tons in the same period of 2023. 

Gold output for the first quarter 2024 stood at 7,803 ounces versus the 10,062 ounces in comparative period of 2023. 

On the other hand, copper output for the first quarter of the year was at 4.67 million pounds compared with 5.53 million pounds in the same quarter of 2023.

Philex said the continued development works at its Silangan Project would provide positive prospects for Philex, as its commercial operation is now scheduled to commence by the last quarter of 2025. 

The latest Silangan timeline is affected by the delayed conclusion of the loan facility and the unexpected longer delivery lead time of critical process plant equipment.

Philex was able to secure an additional $70 million loan for its Surigao del Norte mine, which completes the total loan facility of $170 million needed to bring the Silangan Project into commercial operation.

“Despite the current challenges, we remain focused on the development of our Silangan Project. The current price of gold remains high, and this provides both Silangan and Padcal some tailwinds,” said Philex President and CEO Eulalio Austin Jr.

He added that, “Our drive in the main decline of the ore body of Silangan continues, as well as the start of construction of our process plant, tailings storage facility, and other surface infrastructure.” – JAMES A. LOYOLA