Anglo American Plc , the world’s third biggest mining group, has joined the rush to discover new Philippine mines by seeking permits to explore in a dozen areas in the country, a source close to the firm said on Friday.
Anglo, which has a joint venture with local firm Philex Mining Corp. in the Boyongan copper project in the southern Philippines, is also in joint venture talks with Manila Mining Corp. to explore an adjacent property called Bayugo.
The company is also set to start exploration of its Manmanok copper-gold project in the northern Philippines next month, the source, who asked not to be identified, said.
“Anglo has 12 pending applications for exploration permits, 5 in the Cordillera region and 7 in Surigao and Agusan areas in Mindanao,” the source told Reuters.
The Cordillera region is in the northern Philippines, while Mindanao is in the mineral-rich south.
Anglo American has an existing two-year permit to explore the 7,802-hectare Manmanok copper-gold area in Cordillera and plans to spend 5 million pesos ($102,000), the source said.
He said the permit was approved on October 16 last year.
On Thursday, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes said Anglo American was one of five large firms joining the rush to dig up the country’s unexplored mineral wealth.
Reyes identified the four others as BHP Billiton Ltd./Plc. , Xstrata Plc. , Canada’s Chemical Vapour Metal Refining Inc. (CVMR) and Phelps Dodge Corp. .
The Philippine government has said the country has $1 trillion worth of unexplored gold, copper, nickel and zinc.
It launched a campaign in 2005 to lure foreign investors by identifying 24 priority projects that needed total investments of at least $6.5 billion to re-open old mines and bring into production new ones.
BOYONGAN COPPER LODE
One of the 24 priority projects is the Boyongan copper lode of Anglo American and its local partner Philex.
Silangan Mindanao Mining Co., Inc., which is 60-40 percent owned by Philex and Anglo, hopes to finish drilling in Boyongan in the first half of the year to confirm the mineral resources in the area, which was initially estimated to contain 219 million tonnes of ore, the source said.
After this, the company needed to do a feasibility study on Boyongan for two years, he said.
“Anglo has spent $45 million in Boyongan for exploration and drilling since 1999,” the source said.
In October 2005, Anglo said it was looking to explore next to its Boyongan copper deposit in Surigao del Norte province because developing a larger mine was more cost effective.
Reyes said on Thursday he had approved the exploration permit for the Bayugo-copper gold prospect, which is adjacent to Boyongan.
He said he approved the permit after being informed that the owner of project, Manila Mining, was in joint venture talks with Anglo.
The source close to Anglo said the company was likely to sign the joint venture agreement with Manila Mining by next week.
“With the bright opportunity of exploring the Bayugo copper-gold deposit, Anglo American would probably attain its target of 500 million tonnes of metal resource,” the source said.