PHILEX Mining Corp. is close to raising the needed funding for its Silangan copper-gold project in Surigao del Norte, which it aims to start commercial operations by 2025, its top official said on Thursday.

“We are now almost done securing the whole funding of the project which includes financing from the Philex SRO (stock rights offering), project financing debt syndication of Silangan, and from additional cash infusion from [Philex] cash reserves,” Philex Mining Chief Executive Officer Eulalio B. Austin said during the listed mining company’s virtual annual stockholders meeting.

“Everybody is excited with the start of the Silangan project,” he said.

Mr. Austin said the company is in the final stage of negotiation for the debt syndication component of the funding plan, which is expected to be completed “in due time.”

“In the meantime, we are proceeding with the major development works of the project on the ground that includes the completion of the box cut portal and commencement of tunneling works,” he said.

In 2021, the company announced its plan for the project, placing its development cost at $224 million for an estimated 571 tons worth of mineral resources.

The Silangan project will initially process 2,000 tons of ore in a day until this reaches 12,000 tons or four million tons annually upon its completion.

Meanwhile, Mr. Austin said the operations of Philex Mining’s underground mine in Padcal, Benguet may still go beyond 2027 after it identified mineable reserves.

“Its extension to 2027 is the sixth time and there’s always a possibility of another extension given that there are remaining mineral resources at Pagcal, Sto. Tomas that can still be declared as reserves, subject to the further studies and reassessment of the existing mine facilities,” he said.

The underground Padcal mine is located in Tuba, Benguet province. Its operation started in 1958 and was scheduled to cease operation by the end of 2024 after several extensions.

Earlier this year, the company signed a nonbinding term sheet with Macawiwili Gold Mining and Development Co., Inc. in a bid to acquire the latter’s gold mine in Itogon, Benguet.

Mr. Austin said Philex Mining would “relentlessly pursue” its engagement with Macawiwili. He also cited the same for the exploration of the company’s nickel property in Zambales.

In 2022, the company posted an attributable income of P1.8 billion, down 27% from P2.43 billion in 2021. Its core net income reached P1.73 billion, down 32% from P2.53 billion in 2021, which it attributed to lower revenues and higher operating costs.

Gross revenues dropped 4% last year to P10.09 billion from P10.49 billion previously brought about by the decline in metal output and prices of gold and copper.

“While global uncertainty will continue to persist in 2023 and the years to come, we have more reasons to be optimistic that the best years have yet to come for Philex Mining,” said Mr. Austin.

Philex Mining 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.

Shares in Philex Mining closed Thursday at P2.62 apiece, down by four centavos or 1.5%. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera