MANILA, February 20, 2006
 (STAR) By Rocel C. Felix - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will pursue in the next five years, 24 medium and large-scale mining projects requiring new investments of $8 billion.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes said the primary minerals production will come from gold, copper and nickel mining projects.

"The DENR will continue to focus on the rehabilitation of abandoned mines and promote more investments in mining," Reyes said.

He added that the department will also take steps to minimize, if not totally avoid adverse impacts of natural calamities associated with geo-hazards by conducting geo-hazard mapping in 1,300 municipalities that are hosts to mining activities.

For 2006, the DENR will assess the mining sites of Basay Mining Corp. and Consolidated Mines in Negros and Surigao del Norte, respectively.

It will also start the rehabilitation of the Bagacay Mines in Western Samar.

The DENR, through the Mines and Geociences Bureau (MGB), will also conduct geo-hazard mapping in 314 municipalities and will update 122 topography-based maps.

A mining update by the MGB show that nine mining firms are still pursuing groundwork activities in preparation for subsequent full-scale mining operation.

Filminera Resources Corp. recently completed its $1.1 million infill drilling program in its Masbate Gold project. Its feasibility study is expected to be completed by early 2006 and construction of its processing plant is expected to start in June next year. Commercial operation is projected to start by July 2007. To date, the company has invested a total of $13.836 million.

On the other hand, Itogon Suyoc Resources Inc. raised its total accumulated investments to $2.599 million for its gold project in Benguet.

Philex Mining Corp. also advanced the development of the Sto. Tomas II Copper Expansion Project. The production area is now producing at the rate of 75 metric tons per day for each drawpoint. The company has drilled about four drawpoints to date.

TVI Resources Development Phils. is expected to invest an additional $2 million to $3 million to upgrade facilities and increase the capacity of its gold plant from 650 tons to 1,000 tons daily.

The DENR also approved the feasibility study on the Didipio Copper-Gold project in Nueva Vizcaya-Quirino provinces wherein construction is slated to commence anytime next year.

Also, DENR reinstated the mineral production sharing agreement of Aglubang Mining Corp last November so that it can resume its exploration of nickel and cobalt ore deposits.

Other activities include the recent approval of the feasibility proposal of Surigao Integrated Resource Corp; the ongoing confirmatory drilling activity of Colet Mining and Development Corp.; and, the ongoing feasibility project of Red 5 Limited for its proposed mining program in the Siana Gold Project in Surigao del Norte.

The DENR estimated that mining investments in the country will hit $2.5 billion from 2006 to 2007. To encourage investors, the DENR revised existing procedures by simplifying and limiting the documentary requirements to speed up approval of permits and contracts.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) said the implementation of the Mineral Action Program of the DENR has already led to the improvement in mining shares and facilitated the inflow of new investments from the capital markets.

The Philippines is among the more than 70 countries worldwide that have liberalized their mining industries following the passage of the Mining Act of 1995, whose constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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