PHILEX MINING Corp. said it is considering prolonging further the operation of its underground Padcal mine in Tuba, Benguet province beyond its original retirement of 2024.

In its statement on Monday, the copper and gold producer said the extension depends on a variety of factors.

“The extension of Padcal’s operation will be dependent on the study of the remaining mineable reserve, favorable price of copper and gold, as well as cost of producing the metals moving forward and obtaining the required government permits. If prices hold on to the levels where they are now, which we consider high, then there is a possibility of extension,” said Philex President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio B. Austin, Jr.

The Padcal mine has been in operation since 1958 and was scheduled to cease operation by the end of 2024.

If the extension is approved, it will potentially overlap with the 2025 start of commercial production of Philex’s Silangan copper-gold project in Surigao del Norte.

“[Silangan] will start commercial operation by early 2025, limiting any major impact to Philex’s income flow even if Padcal ceases operation as scheduled in 2024,” the company said in a statement. “An overlap in Padcal and Silangan’s operation could further bolster Philex income stream.”

The Silangan mine will need an initial investment of $224 million. It is expected produce around 2,000 metric tons (MT) of ore per day. By the twelfth year, this will be ramped up to 12,000 MT a day or 4 million MT a year.

Over its 28-year mine life, the mine’s estimated total investment will reach $1.5 billion.

“It is expected to generate thousands of jobs, particularly in Surigao del Norte towns of Placer, Tubod, Tagana-an, and Sison, and contribute billions of pesos in taxes to both the LGUs and the national government,” Philex added.

Last week, Philex said the first-phase deposit in its Silangan project could yield close to $7 billion in sales of metallic mineral over 28 years.

“The numbers for the Silangan Project are very compelling, pushing us to pursue the mine development even without a strategic partner or major investors as we originally envisioned,” said Philex Chief Finance Officer Romeo B. Bachoco said in a stock exchange disclosure last Thursday.

As of the third quarter of last year, Philex’s net income more than doubled to P1.88 billion from P918.26 million in the same period in 2020.

On Monday, Philex shares rose by two centavos or 0.37% to P5.45 per share.

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.

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