EconomyEditor's PickPhilex targets to acquire shares in Itogon miner

January 23, 2023

PHILEX Mining Corp. is targeting to expand its business and plans to acquire shares in a mineral exploration and production company in Itogon, Benguet province, the listed firm said on Monday.

In a regulatory filing, the mining company said it had signed a term sheet with Macawiwili Gold Mining and Development Co., Inc. outlining its intentions in preparation for a possible acquisition of shares.

“Our interest to pursue investments in the Macawiwili property is part of our business direction for this year to broaden interest in ‘green metals’ through mergers and acquisitions,” said Eulalio B. Austin Jr., president and chief executive officer of Philex.

Macawiwili has more than 800 hectares of contract area under its mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), it said. The term sheet covers the parties’ intentions “to explore commercial, financial, and technical avenues” ahead of an acquisition of shares.

Macawiwili also has interests in the exploration of various mineral deposits such as gold and copper. Philex is one of the oldest and largest copper and gold producers in Southeast Asia.

Philex said activities to start the partnership will include holding due diligence and scout drilling on the property of Macawiwili covered by an MPSA in Itogon, which is near its existing Padcal mine.

Mr. Austin said the planned acquisition would fulfill the company’s target for expansion and extension of the Padcal mine.

The term sheet was signed by Philex Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan and Mr. Austin. Macawiwili was represented by its shareholders Michael G. Escaler, Jose Ma. S. Lopez, and Felicisimo A. Feria.

Mr. Pangilinan said Macawiwili is a “good addition or extension” to the Padcal mine, adding that “any addition, expansion, or extension… would greatly benefit not just our employees and their families, but also our host and neighboring communities, and our nation as a whole.”

“I hope that this is the start of something good and that it would ride the wave of higher metal prices in gold and copper,” he said.

Padcal mine is an underground mine located in Tuba, Benguet province. Its operation started in 1958 but was scheduled for retirement by the end of 2024.

Last year, Philex said it was looking at extending the operation of the Padcal mine but depending on the study of the remaining mineable reserves as well as the favorable price of copper and gold.

On Monday, shares in the company closed unchanged at P3.17 apiece.

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. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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