BAGUIO CITY — Philex Mining Corp. said the initial stages of development of its Silangan gold and copper project in Surigao del Norte could be delayed if it canot raise $350 million in financing by the first half of 2020.

“Depende pa din sa availability of funds pero for sure if by 2020 wala pa yung initial money for early works, the timetable will move (It depends on the availability of funds but for sure if by 2020 there is still no initial money for early works, the timetable will move),” Philex Mining President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio B. Austin, Jr. said on the sidelines of an event here.

“Supposedly, in our timetable, we need $350 million to come in the first half of 2020. That’s why we need to talk to our investors,” he noted.

The company is targeting to finalize its list of possible investors by December.

Mr. Austin said that the search for investors is challenging due to the regulatory climate, including the ban on open pit mining, and a moratorium on the issuance of new mining permits.

“For us, we can only talk about the track record of Philex Mining. For more than 60 years in operation, we have been advocates of principled mining and we have the full trust of the community in Surigao,” he said.

Philex appointed J.P. Morgan to advise on equity investment and Mizuho Finanical Group for project financing.

“Our financial advisor is looking into companies that have already some investment in mining so that during due diligence, medyo madali lang (it will be easier),” Mr. Austin said, adding that the company is open to any party that can help get the project going before its Padcal mine in Benguet ceases operations.

The Silangan mine has three deposit areas, Boyongan, Bayugo, and Kalayaan, with the latter a joint venture with Manila Mining Corp. This might be Philex Mining’s biggest source of revenue after the 61-year-old Padcal project closs in 2022.

The total estimated capital expenditure for the development of the first phase of the project, Boyongan, is $750 million. It has an estimated mine life of 22 years and is designed to produce four million tons per year. Target date for commercial operations is July 2022.

The operation of the Silangan mine was originally set to begin in 2018, but has been moved to 2022 due to the ban on new open-pit mining introduced in 2017. It has since shifted to underground sub-level cave mining, which was approved by the Environment department through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as announced by the company on Oct. 10.

Philex Mining is one of the three local units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the two other being PLDT, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc. — a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. — maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which is controls. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang