Mining firm Benguet Corp. said Friday it had been selected as the joint venture partner in the reopening and development of the Batong Buhay mines in Pasil town in the northern province of Kalinga.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Benguet said it received on Thursday the results of the bidding for the Batong Buhay project, held on Dec. 15. It said it was selected to be the partner of the Balatoc Sub-Tribe of Kalinga, the tribal community holding ancestral-domain rights to the property.
The community was represented by Balatoc Kalinga Tribe Inc. and Balatoc Tribe Exploration and Mining Corp.
Government documents show the Batong Buhay property is a copper-gold area with reserves estimated at 86.9 million metric tons with 0.599 percent copper and 0.253 grams of gold per metric ton.
The mine is believed to lie within a tight cluster of copper-gold deposits along the 250-kilometer long Baguio mineral district. Two other copper-gold ore bodies known as the Dickson and Malina also lie along the district and are believed to have high-grade ore.
Since 2006, the Batong Buhay mine has been held under state-owned Natural Resources Mining Development Corp.
The mine, along with a processing plant, was first operated by Batong Buhay Gold Mines Inc. in 1934. It was closed when World War II broke out.
From 1969 to 1970, Japan-based Nippon Mining Co. took over the exploration for copper. From 1977 to 1978, Batong Buhay itself drilled 17 exploration holes, after which the company decided to develop the area?s copper deposit.
In December 1979, the government, through Development Bank of the Philippines, took over management, control and operation of Batong Buhay and appointed Philex Mining Corp. as operator. For two years until 1984, the mine produced 926,478 dry metric tons with 1.25 percent copper. Philex had to stop operations because of insurgency problems.
In June 1986, the Batong Buhay mine was turned over to the now-defunct Asset Privatization Trust. Since then, the Batong Buhay property has been under the receivership of the government through its Privatization and Management Office (PMO) until it was transferred to Natural Resources Mining Development Corp. for proper disposal. With editing by INQUIRER.net