The Philippines’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has put the mining permit for the King-king copper-gold project in the Compostella Valley of Mindanao on hold until the people behind tenement owner Nationwide Development Corporation (Nadecor) are able to resolve differences that have festered into an intra-corporate dispute.

The MGB in Region XI stopped evaluating the Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF) for King-king until the legal tussle between two groups fighting for control of the company resolve their problems, says MGB director Leo Jasareno.

As the final step in securing government approval for a mining company to start operations, a DMPF cites the commercial viability of mineral deposits within a particular tenement.

“Technically, (the King-king) project is a very attractive mining project because it has a world-class deposit and a large investment ... but then, it is mired in an intra-corporate dispute,” says Leo Jasareno.

King-king, which is owned by Nadecor and US-based St Augustine Gold & Copper, is estimated to contain 3.1 billion pounds of copper and 5.43 million ounces of gold in its 22-year mine life.

“The DMPF of Nadecor is still pending with the MGB regional office but we have suspended the processing until the intra-corporate dispute is resolved,” says Leo Jasareno. “If we approve the DMPF, they can begin mining but then, who will mine the deposits? So they should first resolve the dispute.”

Nadecor’s president Conrado T Calalang last week told reporters the intra-corporate dispute would be resolved in the favour of his group. “We are confident the issue will be resolved soon since we already obtained a very favourable resolution from the Court of Appeals.

“The Court of Appeals decision, dated February 18, 2013, is legally binding and immediately effective, and removes any doubt as to who is authorized to represent Nadecor as its board of directors. The CA decision is now on appeal at Supreme Court,” he said.

A group of Nadecor shareholders, headed by Jose Ricafort, is challenging the legitimacy of the Conrado Calalang-led board.

In a February 18 decision, the appellate court recognized the legality board made up of chairman Roberto R Romulo, president Calalang, COO and general counsel Leocadio Nitorreda, and directors Alfredo I Ayala, Juan Kevin G Belmonte, John Engle and Peter Mutuc. St Augustine is represented on the board by Tom Henderson and Kee Ming Chi.

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