MANILA, Philippines?The government has approved the work program for the Kingking copper-gold project in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, according to new operator Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR).
NADECOR, which has taken over operational duties from publicly listed Benguet Corp., said it could now move forward with the completion of the Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility as required under the program.
But Benguet Corp. is still a partner in the project since its operating agreement with estranged partner NADECOR has not been formally terminated.
In a statement, NADECOR's financial consultant Raymond H. Ricafort said that on May 6, 2010, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) approved the work program submitted by NADECOR. The bureau also instructed both Benguet Corp. and NADECOR to implement the work program immediately.
According to NADECOR, Benguet Corp. remains technically involved in the mineral production sharing agreement with NADECOR and the government. However, NADECOR filed in February an arbitration case aimed at terminating Benguet Corp. from the operating agreement.
In case Benguet Corp. is terminated from the operating agreement, NADECOR expects this to be "a basis for terminating (Benguet Corp.) from the MPSA as well, especially given that the DENR has already removed BC as operator."
Benguet Corp. disclosed on May 12 that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) denied its bid to regain control of the exploration work program of Kingking.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Benguet Corp. said the government denied its request for reconsideration of a January order directing the miner's estranged partner, NADECOR, to implement the two-year extension of the exploration work program of the Kinging project.
Benguet Corp. said it would submit a fresh appeal to the DENR. The DENR wrote on May 12 that it would not revise its January 15 decision giving NADECOR control of KingKing.
In January, Environment Acting Secretary Eleazar P. Quinto said in an order that Benguet Corp. was unable to develop Kingking as promised.
However, Quinto said Benguet Corp. was still considered a co-contractor of the copper-gold project.
At the time, Nadecor financial consultant Raymond Ricafort welcomed DENR's decision despite the provision saying that Nadecor and Benguet Corp. remained partners.
Ricafort said it was about time someone else took over the project after 12 years of Benguet's failure to bring Kingking into operation.
Benguet Corp. and Nadecor have separately announced deals with third parties to finance the exploration program for Kingking. Nadecor has also accused Benguet Corp. of not having the financial capability to see the project through since it has yet to pay off its P1.56-billion in principal debt.
Trustee Philippine National Bank has issued Benguet Corp. a default notice.