Philex Mining Corp., the country's biggest miner by market value, hopes to acquire at least one local or foreign mining company before the life of its Padcal mine in Benguet province ends.
Last year, Philex announced it was extending from 2011 to 2014 the life of its Padcal mine, the only operational copper-gold mine in the Philippines.
"We want to acquire something in the same business we're in, copper and gold... we want it as soon as possible within this year. We hope we can open one or two mines before we stop the Padcal mine," said company chairman and chief executive officer Walter Brown.
Brown said the company has set aside more than P150 million, or a fourth of its P650 million exploration budget this year for possible acquisitions. "But if we see something extraordinarily good, we will spend more. There is no real limit."
Philex is scouting for a mining company that is still in the exploration stage or that which is undertaking a feasibility study and looking for a partner. The company should have a yearly output of "at least 100,000 ounces of gold and a 10-year mine life," Brown said.
Concurrently, it started to embark on an aggressive exploration program within the vicinity of the mine. It completed drilling four holes at the Tapaya prospect, five kilometers southeast of the Padcal mine. Other prospect areas lined up for exploration are Diatreme, Southwest, Bumolo and Clifton.
Philex said it would continue exploration activities in its mine sites in Negros Occidental and Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte.
Meanwhile, Brown said the company, through subsidiary Philex Petroleum Corp., was eyeing to start operations of its coal exploration project in Diplahan, Zamboanga by the end of the year. The company owns a coal operating contract in the area, which has an estimated coal reserve of two million metric tons. Philex said the development of the coal project would cost between P175 million and P200 million.