Balabag mining project just a step away from full-scale gold, silver production

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By Jonathan L. Mayuga

Government regulators have flashed the green light for the development of the Balabag Gold-Silver Project of TVI Resource Development (Philippines) Inc. in Zamboanga del Sur, following the approval of the project’s Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF).

The announcement was made through a news statement issued by the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific Inc., which has a 30.66-percent equity interest in TVIRD.

TVIRD, in turn, has a 100-percent stake in Balabag Gold-Silver Project, and is currently seeking public listing in the Philippine Stocks Exchange (PSE).

TVIRD’s operation of the gold-silver mine in Zamboanga del Sur is expected to boost the country’s annual gold output—as well as investment in mining—despite the moratorium on the processing of new mining-project proposals pending the enactment of a new mining revenue-sharing scheme by Congress.

The DMPF was the last major hurdle for TVIRD to initiate the development, construction and operation of the Balabag mine, the TVI statement released on Wednesday added.

The DMPF for the Balabag project, which was approved by the DENR on April 29 this year, authorizes TVIRD to proceed with the development and operation phase, initially over a 180-hectare portion of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) area, which is covered an approved environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

The 180-hectare area covers all currently defined resources at the project, as well as proposed mining and processing-facility sites. TVIRD has the option of submitting an amended ECC that would allow exploration and mining to cover the entire 4,779-hectare MPSA area.

The statement said TVIRD intends to submit an amended ECC with the DENR, in order to access areas with future resource-development potential.

“Balabag is the fourth mining project to be successfully permitted by TVIRD in the Philippines over the past 11 years, and I am confident that TVIRD will secure the necessary funds to move the project forward prior [to] its listing [in] the PSE later this year,” said Clifford James, chairman and CEO of TVI and concurrent chairman of TVIRD.

James said securing the DMPF for the Balabag project will greatly support TVIRD’s efforts to list in the PSE, and that the listing could provide TVI with both a short and long-term source of funding for the company’s resource acquisition and development activities

TVIRD’s MPSA with the government for the Balabag project covers 4,779 hectares in the town of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, approximately 75 kilometers east-northeast of TVIRD’s Canatuan mine.

According to TVIRD, a total of 296 holes have been drilled for a total of 34,156 meters at the Balabag project up to mid-2013. Based on results of drilling completed to the end of June 2011, the project has estimated an indicated mineral resources of 1.78 million tons, averaging 2.34 grams per ton (g/t) gold and 72.3 g/t silver, containing 134,262 ounces of gold and 4,148,196 ounces of silver.

While exploration and development work have been put on hold at the Balabag project since the mid-2013 pending the approval of permits from the government, work on the engineering design for a gold-silver processing plant to process ore on-site continued.

So far, TVIRD has also constructed and maintained 16 km of access roads to the project in anticipation of the commencement of construction.

TVIRD secured its ECC on the project from the DENR in October 2013. TVIRD also got an approval of its Social Development Management Program in May 2014. It also entered into a memorandum of agreement with Subanen leaders in August 2014, as part of the DMPF process and a prerequisite for a certification precondition to be issued by the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, another requisite for the operation of the Balabag project