Corporate News

Top Frontier mines 4 years away

Posted on July 10, 2014

TOP FRONTIER Investments Holdings, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang yesterday said exploration activities are ongoing for the company’s gold, copper and nickel projects under subsidiary Clariden Holdings, Inc., with full operations at the mines expected to take at least four more years.

Mr. Ang said at properties such as North Davao Gold and Copper Mining, the Nonoc nickel project in Surigao del Norte and the Mt. Cadig Nickel Project in Camarines Norte, it will take about one more year to obtain results from exploratory drilling. “You need a year to get a conclusive deposit volume… before you can design the plant. And once you have the information, you need at least three years to build the plant,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Top Frontier’s annual shareholders’ meeting at the San Miguel Corp. head office in Ortigas district.

Clariden, through its subsidiaries, holds mineral production sharing agreements for Nonoc, Mt. Cadig, and the Lo-oc limestone project, as well as exploration permits for certain areas under the Bango Gold Project.

A subsidiary of Clariden, Asia-Alliance Mining Resources Corp., was also chosen as the contractor under a joint operating agreement to be executed for the North Davao Project.

Mr. Ang’s group is also open to the possibility of acquiring operating mines.

“Kung meron… So far wala tayong nakikita. Meron [overseas], pero puro high risk,” he said when asked about acquisitions.

He also said that Top Frontier, which listed by way of introduction on Jan. 13, may not conduct a follow-on offering this year, citing the company’s “very strong” balance sheet.

Mr. Ang, who is also the president and chief operating officer of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., said his companies are interested in the P123-billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike project.

The biggest public-private partnership (PPP) project under the Aquino administration to date has also drawn interest from Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and AlloyMTD Philippines, Inc.

“Basta public bidding, always kasali ang San Miguel,” he said, adding that he is still bullish about PPP projects.

“Basta siguruhin mo pwera na dayaan ha,” Mr. Ang said, an apparent reference to San Miguel’s disqualification from the bidding for the P35.4-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) Project, which is currently being reconsidered by the Office of the President.

The Department of Public Works and Highways special bids and awards committee on June 11 disqualified San Miguel’s infrastructure arm, Optimal Infrastructure Development, Inc. (OIDI), after finding out that the conglomerate’s bid security was four days short of the 180-day requirement.

When asked about the timetable for their CALAX bid, Mr. Ang said: “I’m not allowed to say anything about that,” because the issue is under appeal.

OIDI filed on July 3 a motion of appeal before the Office of the President regarding the disqualification, seeking reconsideration of OIDI’s financial bid of a P20.1-billion premium.

Top Frontier was incorporated in 2008 primarily as a holding company. It owns 66.1% of San Miguel.

In August, 2013, Top Frontier acquired 100% of Clariden.

Shares in Top Frontier on Wednesday lost P4.70 or 3.34% to close at P136. -- Daphne J. Magturo