Philex Mining Corp has found additional ore reserves at its Padcal Copper-Gold Project in northern Philippines that will extend the mine’s life by two more years to 2022. The company says the additional reserves are estimated at 20 million tonnes.

Philex exports most of its Padcal copper concentrate to Japan for smelting by Pan Pacific Copper Co Ltd, which is part of JX Holdings Inc and partly owned by Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co Ltd. Philex said the extra reserves should enhance the company’s value.

The additional ore reserves found at Padcal provide the company with more flexibility before the Silangan Copper-Gold Project comes on-stream, Philex said in a statement. Philex is owned by Hong Kong-listed conglomerate First Pacific Co Ltd.

The $1.2 billion Silangan project in Surigao del Norte province in the southern Philippines represents Philex’s biggest prospective revenue driver when the Padcal mine closes after operating for several decades.

Philex has been cleared by the government to proceed with the development of Silangan, paving the way for production to potentially begin in 2018, four years before Padcal closes.

Earlier this year Philex chairman Manuel V Pangilinan said the company was looking at 2018 or early 2019 for initial Silangan production. He said the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the project was slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“The completion of the DFS will be the basis for the funding program of the mine,” he said. Philex is looking to fund 70% of the project through borrowing, with the remaining 30% to be financed by equity.

The Silangan project involves the development of the Boyongan and Bayugo gold, copper and silver deposits. It has estimated reserves of 5 billion pounds of copper and 9 million ounces of gold in its 25-year mine life.

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