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Ongpin mining firm eyes Laos, Cambodia

Atok-Big Wedge Co. Inc., the mining arm of the group of former trade minister Roberto V. Ongpin, plans to deploy about P1 billion in idle cash by acquiring potential mining assets not just in the Philippines but also in Laos and Cambodia.

During the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting last week, company president Mario Locsin said the mining firm was now evaluating nickel, gold and copper opportunities to make the most out of P1 billion in unused paid-up capital.

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“Aside from the Philippines, there are opportunities overseas,” he told reporters.

Mining opportunities in Laos and Cambodia emerged as an offshoot of affiliate Philweb Corp.’s burgeoning gaming operations abroad, Locsin said. “Because of the Philweb gaming operations, the relationship was developed and so, why not take a look?”

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Locsin said Atok-Big Wedge was now spending on overseas exploration and, if lucky, would be able to identify commercially viable mining sites in these countries in seven years.

“We don’t have mining rights yet. You don’t pay for mining rights until you’re sure of the property’s potential,” he said. “The conservative approach is really to get into a good project.”

Laos and Cambodia were seen as good mining sites because of their proximity to China, a big market for mineral exports, Locsin said.

Atok-Big Wedge also hopes to acquire a good domestic mining project within the year.

The company is also studying its options to comply with the 10-percent minimum public float required by the Philippine Stock Exchange to remain listed on its bourse.

“We will address that,” he said. About 4.2 percent of AB’s stocks are held by the public.

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TAGS: Atok-Big Wedge, Cambodia, gold, Investments, Laos, mining
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