PHILEX MINING Corp. will extend the lifespan of its Padcal mine in Benguet province until 2024 as the listed mining company seeks to optimize the mineral resources in the area, its top official said.

“Padcal will be extending its mine life beyond 2022 for [an] additional two years. This would mean more revenues for the government, more development for our host and neighboring communities, more employment and more benefit for shareholders and all other stakeholders,” Philex President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio B. Austin, Jr. said during the company’s annual general stockholders’ meeting on June 25.

The company will do “relentless operational and cost improvements to optimize the remaining mineral resources of the Sto. Tomas II ore body,” Mr. Austin said.

“We have completed the technical and financial studies supporting the extension of the life of Padcal for another two years. This was presented to the Philex board and was approved,” he added.

Padcal’s initial mine life was estimated up to 2014 and was originally expected to end by 2022.

According to Philex’s website, the mine has been operating since 1958 and produced copper concentrates, with gold and silver as by-products.

Meanwhile, Mr. Austin also confirmed that the mining company is still looking for financial investors for its Silangan copper and gold project in Surigao del Norte.

“If the $758-million capital investment will be a show-stopper, then a lower capital investment scenario will be recommended to expedite development of the Silangan project,” Mr. Austin said.

To recall, Philex’s Silangan project is one of the big-ticket mining projects seen to help the recovery of the Philippine economy after the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 130 that lifted the moratorium on new mineral deals.

The law is expected to generate P21 billion for the government’s coffers, with around 100 mining projects in the pipeline.

In the first quarter, Philex posted an attributable net income of P559.57 million, more than five times higher than the P102.3 million recorded in the same period last year, on the back of higher metal prices.

Realized gold prices for the period rose 11% to $1,781 per ounce while realized copper prices rose 68% to $3.95 per pound.

Philex is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave